Nissan Qashqai gets new engines and infotainment in bid to keep edge over rivals such as the Seat Ateca and Kia Sportage

What is it?

There are few greater success stories in the automotive industry than the Nissan Qashqai. Nissan might not have invented the compact SUV segment, but it’s certainly the one responsible for launching it into the stratosphere.

But as always with trailblazers, others follow – and in the case of compact SUVs, many, many others have followed – which means it’s imperative to hold your advantage.

So far, the Qashqai is still doing brilliantly. It’s on its second-generation, had a facelift last year and, year-to-date, is the fourth biggest selling car in the UK. Its closest SUV contenders, the Ford Kuga and Kia Sportage, are in eighth and tenth place respectively.

A third-generation Qashqai is on its way in 2020, but in the meantime, the car maker has introduced another update to keep things fresh. This time it’s a new 1.3-litre petrol engine with 138bhp or 158bhp outputs, replacing the existing petrol engines, and promising reduced fuel consumption and lower CO2 emissions.

A seven-speed dual clutch transmission also makes it debut on the 158bhp version.

Despite the focus on refreshing petrol engines, Nissan is not giving up on diesel. A 1.5-litre 113bhp diesel launched in September and a 1.7-litre 158bhp diesel will arrive early next year. Qashqai’s sales mix is slightly biased towards petrol currently, but less so than the overall trend in the compact SUV segment.

The other update is an all-important new infotainment system, Nissan Connect which the car maker says offers “seamless and intuitive integration of driver and vehicle”. The current Qashqai’s system is one of the most outdated features compared to rivals, so this a crucial area for Nissan to address. 

What's it like?

The outgoing petrol Qashqai was well-received by Autocar with our only criticism being that the entry-level 1.2 113bhp didn’t have much pulling power below 1750rpm. The same claim doesn’t ring true here: in the new equivalent, the turbocharged 138bhp 1.3-litre, has a far smoother and quicker response at low revs and beyond than previously.

Before, the benchmark sprint was achieved in 11.3secs; now it’s 10.5secs. All in all, acceleration is more spirited and there’s ample pull for any desired overtaking maneouvres. The engine is also admirably quiet. 

Jumping into the higher-powered 158bhp Qashqai briefly, we noticed only a little difference between the two engines. The 158bhp is naturally more sprightly but when you consider the 138bhp unit’s flexible, willing performance, plus its £1500 cheaper list price, it’s the clear winner of the two unless you expect to carry a full load regularly.

That said, if you’re all about more power, there’s an unexpected similarity between the two 1.3-litre engines: they both offer the same CO2 emissions and fuel economy, 121g/km and 53.3mpg respectively on 17in wheels, meaning it will cost you little more in running costs. That rises to 130g/km and 49.6mpg if you have 18in or 19in wheels.

The introduction of petrol engines has had no effect on the Qashqai’s excellent driving credentials. It has long been considered a driver’s car for the compact SUV segment, and it still is. Ride is excellent, though the Seat Ateca has the edge on handling and enjoyment behind the wheel. It’s just that little bit more lively. 

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The second major change is the infotainment system. The second-generation Qashqai moved the game on plenty on this front. But in a fast-moving technology-led age, there’s more to be done. 

Now, NissanConnect offers Apple Carplay or Android Auto compatibility on all but entry-level trim, over-the-air updates and an all-new app, called Door-to-Door navigation. It introduces an increasingly common function in car connectivity of allowing user to plan a route before leaving home, sending the destination to the car to start route guidance. There’s also a better search function in the sat nav which prompts destinations called ‘Single line search’, something requested by customers, said Nissan.

There are fewer hard buttons around than before, and more can be done via the 7-inch touchscreen, with Nissan saying it was benchmarked against an Apple iPad.

In reality, the screen seems very small compared to rivals, and the ‘pinch and pull’ functionality as found an iPad doesn’t respond very well. It’s guilty of what many modern touchscreens are: promising instant feedback and not being able to deliver, something that can be very distracting when driving versus a good old-fashioned button. The map, which can now be viewed in 3D, also has an archaic design, but its functionality is as good as a better-looking equivalent.

Essentially, the system now has more to offer than some rivals in terms of features, but the overall system and design of that system still needs an overhaul to match up to the aesthetics and intuitiveness of, well let’s be frank, German-based equivalents, the Skoda Karoq and Seat Ateca. 

The rest of the interior remains unchanged, offering good-quality materials, ample space for passengers and decent boot space at 430 litres, alhough that is 80 litres less than the Seat Ateca.

The penultimate top-of-the-range trim, Tekna, as driven, gets everything you’d expect plus Bose sound system, 19-inch alloys, heated front seats and panoramic glass roof.


Should I buy one?

The Nissan Qashqai remains wildly popular and rightly so. It manages to be fun and comfortable behind the wheel while having all of the sensible practicality and features expected of a family SUV. 

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The new petrol engines and infotainment only bolster that reputation further, demonstrating Nissan’s adaptability in a fast-changing market. The Ateca still has the edge, but it’s a very very close call.

Nissan Qashqai Tekna 1.3 DIG-T 138bhp specification

Where Barcelona Price £25,895 On sale November Engine turbocharged 1.3-litre petrol  Power 138bhp at 5000rpm Torque 170lb ft at 1600rpm Gearbox six-speed manual Kerb weight 1300kg Top speed 119mph 0-62mph 10.5sec Fuel economy 53.3mpg CO2 121g/km Rivals Seat Ateca, Kia Sportage, Volkswagen Tiguan 

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mars2k 19 October 2018

Rear suspension for 1.3 DIG-T

The model with 1.6 DIG-T (now extinct) used to have an independent rear suspension (the only 4x2 version of Qashqai with an independent suspension, AFAIK).

Does anybody know, please, how is the rear suspension of the 1.3 DIG-T models ?

jer 12 October 2018

Amazed how good a car

These were when I hired one the article highlights all the strengths and weakness .would like to have known if the diesel is available as an auto and how refined it is. Android auto and Apple helps with nav llack of poke addressed also. 

xxxx 12 October 2018

1.2 to 1.3

On bigger cars it's good to see downsizing has become upsizing. Wonder how the Modeo 1.0 triple is selling these days