What's it like?
A scan of the specifications sheet shows what close competition it poses for the similar-performance, somewhat more conventional 1.5-litre diesel (which we tested at the start of the year).
The 1.2-litre petrol, which comes with a standard six-speed gearbox, undercuts the diesel’s price by a handy £1260 and despite its lack of cubic inches it provides slightly brisker performance: 11.3sec 0-62mph acceleration against 12.4sec for the diesel.
The trade-off is fuel consumption 8-10mpg behind the 1.5dCi’s day-to-day figure in the late 40s, but a real-world figure of 38-42mpg is still impressive for any SUV, and some buyers will doubtless prefer the quietness and smoothness of a petrol engine (not to mention the lower price of four-star) to somewhat messier, pricier diesel fuel.
Best of all, there’s a comparative nose-lightness about the petrol model that adds delicacy to the Qashqai’s already excellent steering: repeatedly on test we’ve found remarkably little difference between the agility of this well-developed SUV and the better-class C-segment saloons.
The Qashqai’s ride comfort is especially impressive: it’s quiet, well damped but well controlled and never wallowy. You quickly come to appreciate that this suspension has been developed with the UK’s widely varied (and frequently rutted and uneven) roads in mind.
All the usual Qashqai virtues are present in this lower-end petrol Acenta: impressive trim, convenient and easily read instruments, a pervading aura of quality, comfortable seats and better rear space than both opposition models and the previous Qashqai. The UK-built crossover already sells in huge numbers, and this new economical petrol model well deserves to share the success.
Should I buy one?
Yes, it’s a great small family-sized SUV. And the Acenta’s plush-but-sensible equipment level seems ideal for most modern users. But whether you choose the previously tested diesel or this latest petrol model probably comes down to personal prejudice.
The petrol model is a little smoother and quieter but not so frugal — but it saves you £1260 at the dealership. The diesel, though refined, rattles more at idle, is a bit more vocal on the motorway and can’t impart the special sensation of a sweet-revving petrol engine. On the other hand it’s bound to be better at light towing.
Nissan Qashqai Acenta 1.2 2WD
Price £19,580; 0-62mph 11.3sec; Top speed 114mph; Economy 50.4mpg combined; CO2 129gm/km; Kerb weight 1434kg; Engine 4 cyls in line, 1197cc, transverse; Power 113bhp at 5000rpm; Torque 140lb ft at 2000rpm; Gearbox 6-spd manual