The Nissan Qashqai 1.2 DIG-T has a refined powertrain that deserves its predicted status as the top seller, but demanding roads may get the better of it

What is it?

The sole petrol-powered version in the Nissan Qashqai range at launch. The Qashqai 1.2 DIG-T produces marginally more power and significantly more torque than the 1.6-litre petrol engine that was featured in the original model. Unsurprisingly then that at launch, it is expected to be the biggest-selling engine, accounting for some 42 per cent of sales.

The new car also records improved fuel economy and CO2 emissions than the model it replaces: 50.4mpg and 129g/km plays 45.6mpg and 144g/km. 

As with the rest of the range, the Qashqai 1.2 DIG-T features start-stop as standard as well as a regenerative alternator, but is only offered with a six-speed manual gearbox. Those seeking automatic or four-wheel-drive versions will be fulfilled only by variants of the 1.6-litre diesel. 

Like all two-wheel-drive versions of the 2014 Nissan Qashqai, it employs MacPherson strut front suspension and a twist beam rear. And like the rest of the Mk2 Qashqai range, double-piston shock absorbers, which are intended to be capable of producing both a good ride over both low- and high-frequency bumps and a completely reengineered power-steering system.

The second-generation Nissan Qashqai is some 47mm longer, 20mm wider and 15mm lower than the model it replaces. It is undeniably more attractive than the last car, but loses little of the practicality that saw 250,000 units sold in the UK over seven years – even if a seven-seat model won’t be offered.

Boot space grows by 20 litres to 430 litres, and is accompanied by a bewildering number of positions for the adjustable boot floor to be located in. The cabin feels decidedly more upmarket than before, and our range-topping test car in Tekna trim wants for few optional extras, justifying its £23k price tag.

What's it like?

The powertrain is refined and relaxed. Some may (still) scoff at the idea of a big-ish crossover powered by a 1.2-litre engine, but it is more than a worthy replacement for the old atmospheric 1.6-litre petrol engine.

Performance isn’t what you’d call scintillating: Nissan claims it’ll take 11.3sec to reach 62mph, but for a car like this, its 115mph top speed is largely academic. There’s decent performance from step off and it feels nippy enough around town. That's thanks to torque peaking at a usefully low 2000rpm, and not tailing off until 4000rpm.

Where the 1.2 DIG-T engine really impresses is at a steady-state motorway cruise. At around the UK limit, the engine is remarkably hushed. And even though there’s a small amount of wind and road noise, it is more peaceful than many models from the class above.

The relative paucity of power and – more importantly – of torque comes into play when preparing for an overtake. Although the engine is far from thrashy at higher engine speeds, commitment and plenty of planning is required to make reasonable progress, even if few buyers will push that particular envelope.

The Qashqai employs clever double-piston dampers which endow the car with first-rate body control, yet are supple enough to largely eradicate both low- and high-frequency imperfections. 

Through bends, the Qashqai, which has a standard-fit Chassis Control system, feels sure-footed. Chassis Control’s constituent parts aid this ‘safe’ feeling further: Active Trace Control brakes the inside wheel and Active Ride Control monitors for bumps which could upset the car’s pitch and brakes the wheels accordingly.

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Elsewhere the Qashqai is identical to the rest of the range: a spacious cabin that has a much-improved quality look and feel, a good-sized boot and, entry-level Visia model apart, a comprehensive roster of equipment.

Should I buy one?

That largely depends on where you plan to drive the car most of the time. The new Nissan Qashqai is undeniably an excellent car in all of the pragmatic areas that matter for most drivers, and the model’s smallest engine fitted here is both refined and claims low-running costs.

Nissan claims the new Qashqai is some 2 to 5 per cent cheaper than the equivalent Golf, but represents 2 to 5 per cent better value. Bosses also predict lower servicing, insurance, fuel and tax bills, and say that residual values will also increase.

For urban drivers then, the 1.2 DIG-T model could just represent the sweet spot in the range, with perky performance in the stop-start grind. And it’s plenty capable of holding a high-speed motorway cruise. But those who regularly have the need to make progress on give-and-take roads, or regularly encounter steep inclines, might be left wanting.

Nissan Qashqai 1.2 DIG-T 2WD Tekna

Price £23,145; 0-62mph 11.3sec; Top speed 114mph; Economy 50.4mpg(combined); CO2 129g/km; Kerb weight 1318kg; Engine 4 cyls turbocharged petrol, 1197cc; Power 113bhp at 5000rpm; Torque 140lb ft at 2000-4000rpm; Gearbox 6-spd manual

Steve Cropley

Steve Cropley Autocar
Title: Editor-in-chief

Steve Cropley is the oldest of Autocar’s editorial team, or the most experienced if you want to be polite about it. He joined over 30 years ago, and has driven many cars and interviewed many people in half a century in the business. 

Cropley, who regards himself as the magazine’s “long stop”, has seen many changes since Autocar was a print-only affair, but claims that in such a fast moving environment he has little appetite for looking back. 

He has been surprised and delighted by the generous reception afforded the My Week In Cars podcast he makes with long suffering colleague Matt Prior, and calls it the most enjoyable part of his working week.

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Dave Smith 13 January 2014

Nissan Qashqai

A fine effort from Nissan and from my experience the purchasers of these vehicles do not look for performance. Just one problem. I beleive that some 90% of Qashai sales go to Motability. Its a pity but I know of people who wont buy one because of this.
GeToD 11 January 2014

Another Paper Tiger?

I would like to see real world economy figures with three people on board. I am afraid that this is another paper tiger that produces great economy figures in a lab/on paper but suffers when faced with any sort of load. Mazda had a better approach to this and seeing the pricing of the higher end Qashqai models, is probably better value also.
paul896 10 January 2014


Is this the same 1.2 from the Micra? If I remember well that is supercharged (possibly the only interesting thing about that Micra!)

Why turbo this one? Is this from under the bonnet of a Clio by any chance?

bomb 10 January 2014

paul896 wrote: Is this the

paul896 wrote:

Is this the same 1.2 from the Micra?

No. As you say, that's supercharged and this is turbocharged but they're different engines as the Micra is only a 3 cylinder. That's too light on torque to lug a Qashqai around.