Reviewed: Nissan Qashqai

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Model tested: Nissan Qashqai 1.3 Mild Hybrid SVE

Price as tested €47,600
Power 156hp
CO2 Emissions 145g/km
Stated fuel consumption 6.4l/100km (44,1MPG)

 

Like many former renegades, these days the Nissan Qashqai is very much part of the establishment. Back when it was launched in 2007 it was something of an enfant terrible, the original crossover upsetting the cosy dominance of mid-sized hatchbacks, saloons and estates with its elevated driving position and rugged looks. If Nissan itself had reservations prior to launch, the buying public took to it at once, with over 3 million of the first two generations sold in Europe, including 50,000 examples in Ireland.

Fifteen years on it’s a lot harder for the third generation Qashqai to stand out in a crowded marketplace where every rival brand is offering at least one direct rival. Understandably perhaps, Nissan hasn’t been too adventurous with the styling, with the latest model bearing considerable resemblance to the car it replaces. The crossover segment has hardly been known for styling originality, but recent new models like the Hyundai Tucson and Kia Sportage have shown that being a little daring can and does work.

A bigger challenge to the traditional Qashqai customer is the lack of diesel engines – traditionally the most popular choice for Irish buyers. Neither is there a full hybrid version yet (an e-Power version where a 1.5 petrol engine provides charge to an electric motor that drives the wheels is due fairly imminently), or an electric model – the all new Ariya, due this summer, will be the brand’s larger EV offering. 

Instead there’s a 1.3 litre DiG-T petrol engine with two outputs of 138hp and 156hp which come with 12V mild-hybrid technology.

Available in five trim levels of XE, SV, SV Premium, SV Tech and SVE, there’s a choice of a 6 speed manual transmission or a new Xtronic (CVT) gearbox. The SVE trim also can be had with all wheel drive.

Prices start from €32,000 up to a rather eye-watering €53,500 for the SVE 4×4 CVT. The car tested here, a 156hp SVE with CVT is priced at €47,600.

For that you do get a car that is very decently specced. 20” alloy wheels, Nappa Quilted Leather seats, a handsfree powered tailgate, heated front seats with massage function, ProPilot with Navi Link (Nissan’s version of cruise control), a Heads Up Display (HUD), Automatic Tilt Reversing Mirrors and a Bose sound system with 10 speakers are the extras added to the already generous SV Premium trim.

Standard safety equipment on all models includes rear parking sensors, blind spot intervention, traffic sign recognition, Intelligent Cruise Control, Intelligent Forward Collision Warning, and Intelligent Forward Emergency Braking (Pedestrian & Cyclist Recognition, Junction Assist) and Rear Automatic Cross Traffic Alert and Braking.

Cabin fit and finish is a strong point, though at the higher model prices, it doesn’t feel as luxurious as interiors found in premium brands. The driving display is clear and easy to read, while the 9” infotainment screen (models below SV Premium do with an 8” version) is relatively simple to operate. Thankfully there are physical buttons for the heating controls instead of having to dive into menus as is often the case these days.

Rear passenger space is generous enough to accommodate most individuals, aided by the fact that the doors open to 85 degrees – particularly useful for loading and unloading child seat mounted children. Plenty of storage room in the 504 litre boot too, which comes with a false floor.

Performance from this higher powered 1.3 petrol is more than zippy enough for most needs. You might notice a slightly stronger than normal retardation when lifting off, but generally the mild hybrid technology is pretty unobtrusive.

The test car was brand new so we’d need to allow time for it to be run in properly, but fuel consumption figures of 6.7l/100km (42.1mpg) are nothing to write home about considering most of that was on cross-country runs.

We found the Qashqai pleasantly quiet and comfortable on the move, with the engine hardly audible, and a lot less road noise than many rivals. The CVT transmission works well, only hard acceleration giving the game away that it is not a conventional automatic. As is typical of the crossover breed, it’s not a car for push-on driving, but light steering and good visibility make it ideal for urban manoeuvring.

Summary

The third generation Nissan Qashqai is a decent evolution of a best seller, more refined, spacious and capable than its predecessor. The lack of a diesel option might be a challenge for some existing customers, and for now there’s only the mild hybrid option until the e-Power version arrives. It’s pricey at the higher end, but most buyers will appreciate the strong equipment levels, loads of safety features and easy to operate, refined driving experience.

Rating: 8/10