A familiar model, but with some new tricks, wheelworldreviews Editor DAVID HOOPER finds lots to like in Nissan’s revised Qashqai line-up.
SOME vehicles find their way into the public’s affections, while others seem to miss the mark almost completely.
The Sunderland-built Qashqai falls into the first category and has been a massive hit with customers, many of whom still struggle to pronounce its name. So if you feel you should know, but don’t, to save you the embarassment, it’s pronounced “Cash Kai”.
It’s a family car combined with the practicality of an SUV, and if you choose its slightly longer sister, the Qashqai+2 will accommodate seven people, thanks to its extra pair of seats which fold out of the boot floor.
Available with either two or four-wheel-drive, the car is good to drive and of course, being a Nissan, very reliable, which explains why since it was launched in March 2007, it has become the fastest selling model in the history of Nissan Europe, with over 500,000 Qashqais and Qashqai+2s having been delivered to customers by the end of last year.
To keep it fresh, Nissan has given this top seller a make-over for this year, with improvements in the car’s perceived quality, improvements in its ride and handling and more internal storage spaces, which are all designed to help it retain the good second-hand values the model has enjoyed so far.
Although you would never mistake the revised models for anything other than a Qashqai, the latest version has a completely new front end, with lights, bumpers, bonnet and wings all getting a new look, while at the back, the tail lights now feature LEDs for faster activation, while the cars sit on either 16 or 17in alloys. There are also two new colours – red and grey. All models now come with an electronic stability programme and a Bose sound system features in the top of the range model.
With prices for the range starting from £16,995, the changes are more than skin deep. Open the doors and you are met by a smarter interior, with redesigned instruments which are clear and easy to read. There are also more storage bins around the cabin, good sized door pockets, and smart net map pockets on the back of the front seats. The boot is a good size, and the rear seats will fold down to create even more space if it’s needed.
The engine line-up has also been revised and improved to provide better fuel consumption and lower C02 emissions, and Nissan is aiming to attract more company buyers with a tax friendly version of the car which emits just 129g/km C02 emissions, which now qualifies for zero VED, which should tempt fleet buyers and family customers on a budget in almost equal measure.
To help customers choose a reasonably “green” car, all models with a C02 output of 140g/km or less wear a Pure Drive badge on their boot lids.
There are four trim grades available in the Qashqai, Visia, Acenta, n-tec and Tekna. The most recent addition is the n-tec grade, which comes most notably with the excellent Nissan Connect integrated audio, navigation and communication system. It’s easy to use and you can even play music stored on your phone over the car’s stereo via its Bluetooth connection. Brilliant! The dash-mounted 5in touch screen also doubles as a colour reversing camera.
Having spent a few days driving the Qashqai, I have to say I can understand why it has proved so popular with Nissan’s customers. The car is comfortable, well equipped, easy to drive and park, impressively well built and very refined on the road. On the motorway, the interior of the car is quiet with very little noise from the engine finding its way into the passenger compartment. The power plant in my test car was the 1.5 dCi engine, allied to a six-speed manual gearbox, and during my test, it averaged 48.5mpg, but on a motorway trip to Birmingham and back, it approached 51mpg overall, so no complaints there.
The revised Qashqai has built on the strengths of the first model, and I can’t think of anything to criticise about the car. It looks good, is easy to live with, is well equipped and competitively priced. There is no doubt Nissan is going to enjoy continued success with this car – it’s definitely worth looking at next time you are considering a change.
FACTS AT A GLANCE
MODEL: Nissan Qashqai 1.5D n-tec 2wd.
QASHQAI RANGE: From 1.6 Visia (£15,395) to Tekna 2.0 dCi (£25,895).
ENGINE: 1461cc, 106PS four-cylinder engine, driving front wheels through 6-speed manual gearbox.
CO2 EMISSIONS: 135g/km.
PERFORMANCE: Top speed 110mph. 0-62mph in 12.2 secs.
ECONOMY: City: 47.9mpg.
Fuel tank: 65 litres.
WARRANTY: 3 years/60,000 miles.