Wonderful news – VW hasn’t given up on the estate car just yet
You are here
The Top Gear car review:Nissan Qashqai
What is it like on the road?
Nissan reckons more than half of Qashqais sold will now have that 1.3-litre petrol, a further nail in the coffin of diesel. It’s a strong engine, too, making far lighter work of pulling an SUV around than the old 1.2, while being uncommonly refined, too. Unless you work it hard – we’re talking well past 4,000rpm – it just murmurs away in the background. It’s so hushed on a motorway cruise that you’ll end up tuning into the wind noise blustering around the mirrors.
It’s easy going, too, with much of its torque nice and low down, the Qashqai’s pretty effortless to accelerate in and you needn’t change down a gear to overtake on the motorway. ‘Effortless’ rarely means ‘exciting’, and thus this isn’t a performance car, but it’s more than sprightly enough when you find yourself in the car by yourself and able to push on a bit. The 138bhp tune has ample performance, and if you rarely travel with a car-full, it’ll be more than enough.
The advantages of going for the 158bhp version are an extra 200kg of carrying capacity (it’ll tow 1.5 tonnes) and the option of that twin-clutch auto. It’s not as snappy as a GT-R’s transmission – naturally – but it’s smooth enough. It needs a firm prod of throttle to kick down, and there are no manual paddleshifters, so it’s absolutely not for anyone who occasionally enjoys going quickly. But Nissan reckons 45 per cent of British crossover buyers go auto, and this is a much nicer solution than the clunky CVTs of some rivals (and older Qashqais).
We’re yet to drive the 1.7-litre diesel, but that’ll come with a CVT as an option, as well as four-wheel drive. But it doesn’t have a hard job on its hands, replacing a 1.6 diesel that was never especially inspiring. Given you’d buy diesel to save money, the smaller 1.5 might still be the one to have.
Engines out the way, how does it handle? Well, it’s actually surprisingly game. If it wasn’t so top-heavy you could almost call it fun, with loads of grip and good balance. The Qashqai isn’t as enjoyable to drive as a Seat Ateca or Mazda CX-5, but it’s without serious flaw and those quiet engines and some comfy ride quality ensure it’ll be an easy place to spend time.
Not least if you spend a few hundred quid extra on ProPilot, a combination of lane-keep assist and active cruise control that allows the Qashqai to effectively drive itself on the motorway. Such systems aren’t unique nowadays, but the Qashqai is one of the most family-friendly cars to offer such a facility, and it’s all wrapped up in one button press.