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.
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