TopGear.com07 November 2013

Nissan reinvents the Qashqai crossover

Can it repeat the success of the all-conquering original?

What was the most-read car review on TopGear.com in 2011? Nope. Nope. Wrong again. It was the best-selling, British-built Nissan Qashqai, arguably the first car to properly nail the crossover sector. And Nissan has just unveiled this, the second-gen version.

So, the difficult second album. Headline news here is that it's more premium and more efficient. The cabin is bigger, and of far better quality. There are lots of new specs available, and there'll be a version that emits less than 100g/km of CO2. Finally, prices are only up a shade over the previous model - you'll still be able to pick one up from £17,000, rising to around £27,000.

Nissan also claims to have addressed one of our biggest gripes with the first car: interior comfort and tactility. The seats have been properly overhauled using "techniques inspired by NASA to analyse pressure and blood flow in the lower back of seated passengers."

Because it's 49mm longer and a fraction wider, there's more space inside. Passengers get more head, leg, and shoulder room. There's also a bigger boot, which has 430 litres of space with the rear seats set in position - an improvement of 20 litres over the outgoing Qashqai.

There are a few neat, common-sense touches inside, too. The central storage box has a little channel, so you can plug in your USB device in without having to force the lid shut. And don't forget the all-important cupholder: the cavities are a bit deeper, so drinks bottles don't get in the way when you're changing gear.

Engines, you say? The launch menu includes a basic-spec 113bhp 1.2-litre turbocharged petrol that will do 50.4mpg and emit 129g/km of CO2, a 108bhp 1.5-litre dCi turbodiesel returning 74.3mpg that emits 99 carbons, and a 128bhp 1.6-litre dCi turbodiesel returning 64.2mpg that 115 carbons.

You get a six-speed manual gearbox as standard on all engines, but you can spec the dreaded CVT auto on the 1.6 dCi. Nissan's calling it the CVT Xtronic. And promises there won't be that fiendishly irritating rubber band feeling when you floor it: it's building in a ‘step shift' feel to the transmission so it feels more like a normal auto.

Safety and infotainment tech has been beefed up as well. You can spec the Nissan Connect 2 infotainment system is offered (the one with sat-nav and raft of connectivity options) and all the latest Nissan Safety Shield offerings are available, including traffic sign recognition, automatic braking, moving object detection for parking, and park assist.

Bad news is that there's no longer a seven-seat Qashqai+2 version - you'll have to get the new X-Trail for that. Or, alternatively, one of the five other crossovers Nissan's planning to launch in the next 18 months.

So, the difficult second album. How has Nissan done? Nirvana's Nevermind, or Right Said Fred's Sex and Travel?

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