The previous model was a chunky plastic hutch, still trading on the implied durability of a ’90s-era off-roader as it worked to close the distance to a hatchback’s comfort and convenience. The new cabin is a far more upmarket affair, jettisoning the workaday dash for a sleeker, shinier design clearly influenced by recent rivals from Korea and Germany.
However, for all the glossy plastic and metallic highlights, any ritz is kept adamantly in check. Nissan has adopted a contemporary appearance, but it has taken few risks on the style front, preferring instead to concentrate on nailing ergonomics and ease of use.
Helped along by a noticeable step up in comfort – the front seats are excellent – and perceived quality, the approach pays off. Although arguably less pleasing to look at than a Kia Sportage or Hyundai ix35, the clarity, location and function of the switchgear and instrumentation is on a Volkswagen Group level of effectiveness. High praise indeed, and appropriate for a car that doesn’t need to turn heads.
Similar good sense reigns elsewhere. A slight swelling in size has paid off in roominess; there may only be a few extra centimetres here and there, but they collude in the impression of a much more spacious prospect. The modest increase in wheelbase means rear passengers’ kneecaps are less likely to bump the seat in front, and while the new Qashqai is lower than before, the roofline is not a concern.