Fearsomely competent, the Qashqai continues to dominate

Introduction

The Nissan Qashqai is a car that, in 2006, began the crossover craze in the UK, after ill-fated attempts by Honda and Suzuki in the early 2000s proved to be ahead of their time. The Qashqai combined hatchback-like driving dynamics and inoffensiveness with a higher SUV-like driving position. It seems a simple or even an obvious idea now, but at the time it began a buying habit revolution.

 

Body Style: 5dr Crossover Seats: 5  MRP from £18,795 - £29,715

 

Did you know? The Qashqai peoples are a group of tribes of Turkic origin, stretching from western to central Asia

Verdict | Design | Interior | Technology | Performance | Safety | Specs | Running Costs | Pricing

Verdict:★★★★★★★★☆☆ (7.9/10)

The Qashqai is the Volkswagen Golf for those people who want to sit higher up. It does everything very well, perhaps apart from performance. It’s smooth, it handles and rides well, isn’t too big and is pretty comfortable for five. Buyers expecting something better to drive will be disappointed; there’s a general lack of excitement throughout the range, but the Nissan is nonetheless a fearsomely competent everyday car that ticks a lot of boxes for a lot of lifestyles.

Design & Exterior

★★★★★★★★☆☆ (8/10)

Interior & Comfort

★★★★★★★★☆☆ (8/10)

Technology & Connectivity

★★★★★★★★★☆ (9/10)

Performance & Handling

★★★★★★☆☆☆☆ (6/10)

Safety Features

★★★★★★★★☆☆ (8/10)

Spec & Trim Levels

★★★★★★★★☆☆ (8/10)

Running Costs & Fuel Economy

★★★★★★★★☆☆ (8/10)

Pricing

★★★★★★★★☆☆ (8/10)

 

2017 Nissan Qashqai

We Like

Versatile, do-anything feel

Practical cabin

Amazing technology

We Don't Like

Sterile driving experience

Weak-feeling engines

Poor rearward visibility

 

Verdict | Design | Interior | Technology | Performance | Safety | Specs | Running Costs | Pricing

Design & Exterior: ★★★★★★★★☆☆ (8/10)

2017 Nissan Qashqai

Nissan’s family styling has reached just about every corner of its range of cars by now, but none wears it better than the Qashqai. The proportions are just right, the large wheel options fill the arches well and there’s a pleasant mix of curves and angles that means the car seems neither curvy nor angular. It’s a great piece of design.

The Qashqai’s image is one of popularity and familiarity. It has no specific face other than each individual one given to it by every buyer who has taken the plunge. It’s almost everyone’s best friend, and those on the outside often look at it with envy, like seeing a group of your friends eating ice cream without you.

Emphasising the 4x4-inspired styling is unpainted trim surrounding the wheel arches, running the length of the sides and around the bottoms of the bumpers.

 

Verdict | Design | Interior | Technology | Performance | Safety | Specs | Running Costs | Pricing

Interior & Comfort: ★★★★★★★★☆☆ (8/10)

2017 Nissan Qashqai

Most of the broad surface areas are covered with soft-touch materials or, in the top-spec models, leather. There is a bit of a difference between the cheapest and most expensive versions’ interiors, with the former seeming a bit lacklustre and cheap versus the latter’s busy but organised and logical array of buttons and screens surrounded by classy trim designs. All boast the same deep-down solid build quality, though.

Nissan hasn’t tried to reinvent the wheel here. When the NissanConnect seven-inch touch-screen arrives at N-Connecta level the interior takes a definite step up, but still it keeps the climate control dials, as well as the buttons for demist, heated windscreens and the like separate, for easy and fast access. It’s a fairly ideal combination of features quantity and the right amount of streamlining.

The interior isn’t particularly exciting at any trim level. It’s intuitive and unchallenging, both in its ease of use and its deviation from the status quo. That’s a good thing for everyday usability and for forging a quick and lasting bond with the car on your first drive.

Practicality

At 430 litres, the boot beats a typical compact hatchback’s by 50 litres. The body height also means more room to lower the floor for better rear passenger comfort and to accommodate 60:40 split rear seats that fold completely flat. In the boot there’s a false floor that can be taken apart and arranged in more than a dozen different ways to segregate shopping or other bits and bobs that might be damaged if given too much space to roll around.

Four-wheel drive is an expensive option that most people don’t take up, but anyone living in the countryside or who are afraid of harsh winters might appreciate the extra practicality the system offers.

Boot space

Min: 430 litres
Max: 1585 litres

 

Verdict | Design | Interior | Technology | Performance | Safety | Specs | Running Costs | Pricing

Technology & Connectivity:★★★★★★★★★☆ (9/10)

2017 Nissan Qashqai

Nissan has turned the Qashqai into one of the real-world car market’s outstanding stars when it comes to technology. Some of its advanced features are specifically safety-related but others are both for safety and practicality - or maybe even just because they’re cool.

The Around View Monitor is a prime example, using front-, rear- and side-mounted cameras to create a bird’s eye view of the car from above. It’s a remarkable, almost computer-gamey display that can even let you manoeuvre the car with fully black-out windows, although it’s not recommended…

NissanConnect can hook up to smartphones and display apps like Facebook and Twitter on the main screen. There is, of course, a USB port on all cars along with Bluetooth connectivity. It’s worth noting that even basic Visia Qashqais can be optioned-up with front and rear parking sensors, among other things.

 

Verdict | Design | Interior | Technology | Performance | Safety | Specs | Running Costs | Pricing

Performance & Handling: ★★★★★★☆☆☆☆ (6/10)

2017 Nissan Qashqai

The Qashqai is entirely vanilla in the handling department. There’s nothing wrong with it and some of the time it’s just what you want, but ultimately it’s not especially interesting, either. But the important thing about vanilla is that if we all had to live with just one ice cream flavour for the rest of our lives, most people would choose it. Frozen dessert analogies aside, the car really does do an excellent job of managing the vast majority of life’s everyday situations.

The ride is generally very good, even on the larger 19in wheels where a degree of harshness starts to interrupt the composure on rough roads. It’s a well-judged mix of stability and softness, absorbing the worst of the bumps and smoothing out deteriorating surfaces while controlling body roll. As such the Qashqai doesn’t corner like an SUV; it belongs to the crossover crowd, where hatchback handling dynamics are just about maintained.

On a more disappointing note, the engines leave a little to be desired for straight-line speed. The diesels are tuned to give most of the torque within the first short space of pedal travel, making them feel eager and powerful, but when you press the pedal all the way, the engines have little extra to give. Meanwhile, all too often on fast country roads, the downsized 1.2-litre petrol engine need to be strained to its maximum. The 1.6-litre is a better bet - still hardly fast, but more relaxing.

Recommended engine: 1.6 dCi 130 2WD

0-62 MPH

11.1 seconds

Fuel economy

57.6-60.1 mpg

Emissions

122-128g/km

 

Verdict | Design | Interior | Technology | Performance | Safety | Specs | Running Costs | Pricing

Safety Features: ★★★★★★★★☆☆ (8/10)

2017 Nissan Qashqai

There’s an impressive selection of safety equipment in the Qashqai, albeit not always standard. Nissan calls the suite of active technologies its Safety Shield. From traffic sign recognition and automatic main beam activation, to lane departure warning and autonomous emergency braking, there are no better-specified compact crossovers on the market when it comes to safety.

Blind Spot Vision shows a warning light by the door mirrors if an object is in your blind spot, and Driver Attention Alert can take a reasonable guess at when a driver is tired. Around View Monitor is especially clever, giving you a great overall picture of how clear the area around the car is. No more reversing over hidden kids’ toys that have been left lying around.

The two cheapest trim grades don’t get any of this without adding options, which has cost the car marks in this section. They do have advanced stability control, but only mid-range models start to benefit. Some features are reserved for the pricey Tekna only.

 

Verdict | Design | Interior | Technology | Performance | Safety | Specs | Running Costs | Pricing

Specs and Trim Levels:★★★★★★★★☆☆ (8/10)

2017 Nissan Qashqai

Colours

Unusually for brown shades, Nissan has given this car a metallic colour called Bronze that actually looks quite good. Flame Red is the solid, free colour, and it’s a good one, but even better is Magnetic Red, one of the seven metallics. The others are Gun Metallic, Blade Silver, Pearl Black - which is metallic rather than pearlescent, Nightshade - a stunning dark purple that looks superb in direct sunlight, and beautiful Ink Blue.

There’s also a Storm White pearlescent, but it’s easily the least flattering of the nine choices. Darker, metallic colours work best on the carefully-designed shape, making Pearl Black, Magnetic Red, Bronze, Ink Blue and Nightshade the ones to choose.

Trim Levels

Visia, Nissan’s traditional range-opening trim, is the entry point. It has a fairly typical spread of features at this price, including four electric windows, a 5.0in screen, an admirable passive and semi-active safety suite and cruise control. It has an AM/FM radio with a CD player, USB port and Bluetooth, but no DAB reception.

Acenta adds larger alloy wheels, leather trim for the steering wheel and gear knob, the false boot floor, dual-zone climate control and, impressively, automatic headlights and windscreen wipers. Things get more interesting with the N-Connecta grade, with keyless entry and start, the larger part of the Nissan Safety Shield active safety technology list and the larger touch-screen. DAB radio finally arrives here, too.

N-Vision is a special model that’s focused on style, taking the N-Connecta and adding Alcantara seats, a panoramic roof, heated front seats and electric seat adjustment for the driver’s chair.

Tekna is the top dog, fitted with the rest of the Nissan Safety Shield, 19in alloy wheels, full-LED headlights, a heated windscreen and semi-automated parking.

Size and Dimensions

Although it looks big, partly due to the bulging wheel arches and high roof, it’s really not such a large beast. A little over two metres wide including mirrors means a tight squeeze for some garages, but in general the Qashqai feels a lot bigger than it is.

Length

4377 mm

Width

1806 mm (2070 mm)

Height

1590 mm

Max towing weight without brake

From 675kg (1.2 DiG-T) to 750kg (1.6 dCi 4WD)

 

Verdict | Design | Interior | Technology | Performance | Safety | Specs | Running Costs | Pricing

Running Costs & Fuel Economy: ★★★★★★★★☆☆ (8/10)

2017 Nissan Qashqai

The Qashqai doesn’t claim to set the standard for fuel economy, and it doesn’t. Its engines are all in the middle of the pack for efficiency, with the exception of the dCi 110 diesel, which hit 74mpg in official tests on up to 18in wheels. There’s even a sub-100g/km CO2 variant. It’s underpowered, though, and needs to be worked hard a lot of the time, which shatters any dreams of fuel economy beginning with a six, let alone a seven.

The petrols are officially capable of high-40s on average, but about 40mpg is the best to hope for without serious dedication.

Residual values aren’t bad, but are starting to be hurt by the car’s sheer popularity. There is always so much choice on the used market and prices drop as a result. Ownership should be affordable thanks to modest insurance premiums and good-value servicing.

Reliability and servicing

The Qashqai, for all its popularity, leaves owners wanting for reliability. It isn’t far from the bottom of the table in the 2016 Driver Power ownership satisfaction survey, with people citing a wide range of small but troublesome issues, including electrical gremlins that prevent the car starting at all. Electrical issues are all too common. Nissan lags well behind the reliability records of its Japanese compatriots Toyota, Lexus and Honda.

Minor

12 months or 12,500 miles - £160 est

Major

24 months or 25,000 miles - £250 est

 

Verdict | Design | Interior | Technology | Performance | Safety | Specs | Running Costs | Pricing

Pricing: ★★★★★★★★☆☆ (8/10)

2017 Nissan Qashqai

At £18,795 the Qashqai Visia looks like decent value, but that model is a loss-leader that makes do with the substandard petrol engine. For the entry-level diesel it’s £20,625, although this is still broadly comparable with a Ford Focus hatch. The diesel Acenta is more than £2000 more expensive again, at £22,685.

For the best-value model, the N-Connecta, it’s a minimum of £22,785, but for the cheapest diesel you’re looking at £24,535, or £25,785 for the better dCi 130. Adding four-wheel drive catapults the cost to £27,485, while upgrading to N-Vision costs £1200. At this point the Qashqai starts to look expensive, despite the wealth of standard kit.

At the top of the range, Tekna starts at £25,015 with the entry-level petrol, £26,635 to net the basic diesel and £27,885 for the more powerful one. If petrol power is good enough, the cheapest Tekna offers a brilliantly luxurious crossover for the money.

 

Verdict | Design | Interior | Technology | Performance | Safety | Specs | Running Costs | Pricing

Recommendations

Tech Junkie

1.5 dCi 110 Black Edition – includes a panoramic glass roof on top of myriad safety tech and automated parking

New Parents

1.5 dCi 110 N-Connecta – a tempting list of desirable equipment including sat-nav and Around-View Monitor

Luxury Seeker

1.6 dCi 130 Tekna – outstanding luxury plus usefulness all year round thanks to a heated windscreen

Rivals

Ford Kuga

Belies its age with a responsive drive and variety of available technology, and is great to look at

Suzuki SX4 S-Cross

Bargain compact crossover has bags of useful equipment and a strong, efficient diesel engine

Peugeot 3008

Superb refinement, efficiency and comfort means Peugeot’s alternative is among the class best

Jeep Renegade

More rugged, SUV-like styling with options for extremely capable four-wheel drive options

Volkswagen Tiguan

The class leader for outright quality is expensive, but feels a cut above most of the rest

What others say

Auto Trader

“The Nissan Qashqai is a truly brilliant car, and for us it’s the best of the small SUVs. No rival can offer such a stunning mix of style, quality, practicality, refinement, comfort, efficiency and affordability.”

What Car?

You may not expect an SUV to handle particularly well, but the Qashqai’s suspension setup allows it to control its body movements nicely through corners.”

 

Be part of something big

2017 Nissan Qashqai