If any one feature of the new Qashqai testifies to the evolution of the crossover since 2007, it’s the interior.
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.
The boot, too, is bigger – by 20 litres, at 1585 litres with the rear seats folded – but more importantly it is better packaged, with a tailgate that opens 150mm higher and two reversible floor panels which can be raised or lowered to permit no fewer than 16 different configurations, including one with a fully flat floor.
There are five trim levels to choose from with the entry-level Visia trim providing a decent level of equipment, including all-around electric windows, cruise control, heated door mirrors, LED day-running lights and rear lights, chassis control and 16in steel wheels on the outside. Inside there is a 5.0in infotainment system complete with Bluetooth and USB connectivity, and four speakers, as well as manual air conditioning.
Opt for an Acenta trimmed Qashqai and you get luxuries such as six speakers, 17in alloy wheels, power folding mirrors, auto lights and wipers, dual-zone climate control, and front foglights as standard. Choosing a Qashqai kitted in N-Connecta finery gets you a host of technological delights including Nissan's smart vision pack equipped with high beam assist, traffic sign recognition, emergency braking, lane departure warning and parking sensors. There is also 18in alloys, matte silver roof rails, front sports seats, keyless start and a NissanConnect infotainment system complete with a 7.0in touchscreen display, sat nav, DAB radio and a 360-degree camera.
Tekna equipped Qashqais get more niceties such as a part leather upholstery, an electrically adjustable driver's seat, 19in alloy wheels, heated front seats and windscreen, LED headlights and an eight-speaker Bose audio system. This trim includes Nissan's Safety Shield Plus technology, which includes blind spot warning, moving object detection, rear cross traffic alert and intelligent park assist. Opting for the range-topping Tekna+ model gets a Nappa leather upholstery, electrically adjustable front seats, gloss silver roof rails and wing mirrors and a panoramic roof.