The Qashqai's engine line-up features an entry-level 1.2-litre petrol, a 1.5-litre diesel and range-topping 1.6-litre diesel and petrol.

You may question the logic of fitting a seemingly large crossover with something as diminutive as a 1.2-litre petrol engine, but turbocharging and advances in engineering have permitted compact engines to produce substantial and reliable outputs.

Matt Saunders Autocar

Matt Saunders

Chief tester
A bit of sparkle to the driving experience wouldn't go amiss

Besides offering more power, the new 113bhp 1.2-litre turbocharged petrol offers up substantially more torque than the old 1.6-litre naturally aspirated engine. It's not fast – Nissan claims 11.3sec to 62mph – but it accelerates smoothly and with ease from a standstill.

The 1.2-litre engine most impresses on the motorway. Noise levels are low and its 140lb ft peak torque output allows for painless overtaking without having to shift gears.

The diesel engines are likely to be the prime movers for many, however. It takes a cold start on a frosty morning to elicit any hint of incivility from the 1.5-litre turbodiesel – and the slight clatter doesn’t last long. The rest of the time, this is a remarkably quiet, well mannered powerplant.

Our noise meter confirmed as much: 62dB of cabin noise at 50mph is impressive. You have to revisit luxury cars such as the Mercedes-Benz S-Class and BMW X5 to better the result. A Bentley Flying Spur is a decibel louder. It isn’t just that the engine is well isolated, either. The Qashqai’s cabin is equally well protected from wind and road noise. The other petrol - the turbocharged 1.6-litre petrol good for 160bhp and peak twist of 177lb ft, which is enough to propel the crossover 62mph from a standstill in 8.9sec and onto a top speed of 124mph.

You’d expect acceleration to be modest, but in fact it’s perfectly adequate. Pedal response can be poor at very low revs, with pulling power only fully coming on stream at about 1750rpm. That apart, the engine is as flexible as it is willing.

It doesn’t run short of breath until 4500rpm, it’s never coarse or intrusive and it makes enough urge to give reasonable overtaking and motorway grunt. In our experience, you can’t expect more of a 99g/km, £20,000 family car.

It's a similar story with the 1.6-litre version. It's as strong and as torquey as a healthy 2.0-litre, and its noise and vibrations are very well isolated.

Changing gears is made effortless by a perfectly positioned gearlever with a slick and assured action. Control weights are uniform and substantial enough to speak of the distinguishing quality that Nissan wants this car to communicate.

The CVT, when specified, is hardly recognisable as such: there’s no 'rubber band' effect, perhaps because of the 1.6-litre diesel's engine’s deeply impressive 236lb ft (which peaks at 1750rpm). The step-off, too, is as clean and easy to modulate as a normal automatic's.

Braking performance is beyond question, too, in both the wet and dry. If there is a base that Nissan hasn’t covered here, or an everyday requirement this Qashqai misses that it might reasonably be asked to serve, we couldn’t find it.

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