Nissan Qashqai (2017 - ) SUV review
The Nissan Qashqai is Europe’s best-selling SUV. Can a mid-life facelift ensure it keeps pace with its myriad competitors?
Interested in buying a Nissan Qashqai?
How good does it look?
Qashqais from 2017 onwards aren’t radically different to the previous model, but they do add some chunkier styling, with a more prominent grille and revised bumpers, as well as tweaks to the headlights. The entry-level Visia has some chrome bits, body coloured bumpers, handles and mirrors and a roof spoiler as well as LED daytime running lights, and rides on 16-inch steel wheels. Upgrade to the Acenta include 17-inch alloy wheels and front fog lights, while the N-Connecta gets 18-inch alloys, privacy glass, front and rear parking sensors and roof rails, striking a nice balance between price and features. The Tekna model gets big 19-inch alloy wheels and clever LED headlights, while the Tekna+ has silver side mirrors and a panoramic sunroof.
What's the interior like?
Inside, changes for 2017 included some styling tweaks and a thicker, flat-bottomed steering wheel. Build quality is very good, and the quality of materials is decent, although some of the newer competitors, such as the Skoda Karoq, feel more solid and contemporary. The infotainment system was completely overhauled in late 2018, which was needed as the old one felt dated. The new one takes the iPad as its benchmark for operation and performance, and it's quick to respond and has plenty of personalisation options, as well as Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. However, the amount of features can prove a bit overwhelming at first, and the pinch-and-pull touch controls are hard to pull off while driving.
The seating position is just what you expect in an SUV, being slightly elevated, and there’s good seat and steering wheel adjustment to help you find your most comfortable position, but the compromised rear visibility of the pre-facelifted Qashqai remains; it’s not the easiest car to see out the back of.
How practical is it?
The rear seats have plenty of headroom and legroom, making life very comfortable for four gangly adults, and five will fit in at a push. The boot is slightly bigger than the previous Qashqai, at 430 litres, and it also has some clever features. We particularly like the two movable boards, which help give you a perfectly level load floor when the back seats are folded, and which can be slotted in vertically as well as horizontally, to stop small items sliding around. These boards are standard on all trims except the entry-level Visia. You can fold the rear seats down to give up to 1598 litres of space, which is a decent size, but there’s considerably more space with the seats up in rivals like the Peugeot 3008 and Seat Ateca.
What's it like to drive?
Nissan has tweaked the steering and suspension for the revised Qashqai, which seems unnecessary as the 2013 model drove well. Luckily, nothing’s been ruined. The driving experience is set up more for comfort than sportiness, and the suspension does well in taking the sting out of bumpy roads, but at the same time, the car is commendably composed through the corners. The steering feels on the heavy side, which adds a sense of solidity to the experience, but some may find it rather weighty around town. Overall, it’s a very comfortable experience, but there’s more pep and excitement to be found behind the wheel of the 3008 and Ateca.
How powerful is it?
Engine-wise, you get a choice of two diesel engines and two petrol engines. Our pick is the 110 horsepower 1.5-litre diesel, which comes with front wheel drive and a very decent six-speed manual gearbox. A new 1.7-litre diesel engine is due be introduced in 2019, replacing a 1.6-litre diesel that's no longer available.
Petrol buyers of cars from 2017 to late 2018 had two turbocharged engines to choose from, a 1.2 with 115 horsepower and a 1.6 with 163 horsepower. The 1.2 is impressively smooth and quiet, even when you work it hard, but that’s just as well because you’ll need to quite a lot of the time if you want to make decent progress. It lacks the inherent low-down torque of the diesels, and the engine takes time to build revs, so you’ll often need a downshift to keep up with the ebb and flow of main-road traffic. The 1.6 feels pretty flat at the bottom of the rev range, too, which isn’t helped by rather lazy throttle responses, but push the needle past the mid-range, and the acceleration you feel becomes surprisingly strong. This gives the engine a rather all-or-nothing nature which doesn’t really suit the Qashqai’s otherwise easy-going character.
From late 2018, Nissan replaced the petrol engine line-up with two new 1.3-litre, turbocharged units. One version has 140 horsepower and comes with a six-speed manual gearbox, and will be absolutely fine for 90% of buyers with enough pull and poke to make for decent progress. However, if you're often going to have a fully loaded car, or need to tow things, then you might be more interested in the 160-horsepower version, which comes with either the manual or an seven-speed, dual-clutch automatic gearbox. 20 horsepower might not seem like much on paper, but it does add noticeably more pep.
How much will it cost me?
The Qashqai’s purchase prices are broadly in line with much of the competition, but it doesn’t perform particularly well when it comes to residual values. However, its engines are economical and emit less CO2 than many of its rivals. For example, comparing the Qashqai’s 1.5 dCi engine to the Peugeot 3008’s 1.6 BlueHDi and Seat’s 1.6 TDI in the Ateca shows Nissan on top for both emissions and fuel economy, and by some way. Servicing costs are likely to be affordable, too. Overall, when considering costs over the whole life of the vehicle, the Qashqai looks strong.
How reliable is it?
We don’t have any firm data for the latest generation of Qashqai, but the previous, pre-2013 version had a reasonable, if not stellar reputation for reliability according to Warranty Direct’s Reliability Index. Nissan as a brand fares very well, sitting in the Top 10 of manufacturer ratings overall. That's echoed by JD Power's 2018 Vehicle Dependability Study, which places it fifth overall. However, owners that have left reviews on Auto Trader have mixed responses, with several complaining of electrical trouble in their cars.
How safe is it?
The Qashqai received a five-star crash test report from safety organisation Euro NCAP back in 2014, and while safety technology has moved on since then, that still represents a decent safety performance. The 2017-onwards models includes six airbags as standard, along with cruise control, speed limiter and two Isofix child seat fixing points in the back. N-Connecta models and up get a Smart Vision Pack, which includes a traffic sign recognition system, automatic emergency braking and a lane departure warning system, while the Tekna model has even more features, including a blind spot warning system and sensors that detect oncoming traffic when reversing out of a parking space. The very top trims can also be specified with an optional system called ProPILOT, which takes care of steering, acceleration and braking for you when you're following other traffic, which makes life easier on the motorway and when trundling through jams.
How much equipment do I get?
Even the entry-level Visia grade comes with a DAB radio, USB port and Bluetooth connectivity, as well as manual air-conditioning, while the Acenta introduces the excellent luggage board system, along with automatic headlights and wipers, a leather-wrapped steering wheel and a climate control system. Our pick is the mid-level N-Connecta, which adds a seven-inch touchscreen navigation and infotainment system, a raft of safety features and keyless start. If you’re feeling flush, the Tekna model includes an upgraded Bose sound system, more safety kit and part-leather upholstery with an electrically adjustable driver’s seat. The top-of-the-range Tekna+ includes upgraded, heated front seats, clad in leather and a panoramic sunroof.
The Qashqai puts in a strong performance in almost every area, making it a cracking all-rounder. It sits nicely in the middle of the comfort vs sportiness spectrum of small SUVs, it’s well equipped, efficient, stylish and practical, and that’s why it’s proved so popular thus far. The facelift does nothing to dent its wide appeal.