What is it?
Nissan’s popular British-built Qashqai crossover received a makeover in early 2010 with subtly refreshed styling, interior quality upgrades and under-the-skin changes to boost ride quality and reduce interior noise.
This was followed up later in the year with tweaks to the engine range. So this is our first chance to test the newly Euro5-compliant 1.6-litre petrol engine, which gets a small 2bhp boost to 115bhp and a similar rise in torque to 117lb ft. And the addition of stop-start, the first Nissan to benefit from the technology, drops CO2 emissions from 144g/km to 139g/km.
What’s it like?
The Qashqai is Nissan’s biggest seller in the UK, and it’s easy to see why. We noted in our earlier test of the chassis and interior upgrades that the Qashqai is a comfortable, refined and accomplished performer, with an airy cabin and an excellent driving position. None of these traits are lost in this round of engine upgrades.
While the Qashqai range remains an extremely competitive proposition overall, this engine would not be our default choice. Its real-life economy is impressive at around 40mpg, but it lacks the necessary power and torque for swift, smooth and quiet progress.
The engine, although smoother and quieter around town, also feels strained on the motorway and would benefit from a sixth gear to improve refinement and economy.
But there are no such problems with the stop-start system, which operates in the background without intrusion and delivers noticeable benefits to the headline economy and CO2 figures.
Should I buy one?
We’d have no hesitation in recommending a Qashqai, which remains an interesting and well-executed crossover alternative to mainstream rivals such as the Ford Focus and Volkswagen Golf.
If you’re prepared to sacrifice a few of the toys fitted to this generously equipped n-tec model, a 1.5 diesel Qashqai can be had for the same money, and that model offers even better economy and CO2 emissions and enough torque to provide a more rewarding drive.