You don’t enjoy the sales success of the Qashqai without understanding the target market. Having been widely credited with inventing this modern breed of crossover, Nissan has been careful to make sure that the latest version builds on customer feedback in an attempt to head off the burgeoning competition.
When the Qashqai burst onto the scene in 2007 it opened up a whole new sector of the car market with the crossover. Few, including Nissan, could have predicted the runaway sales success that resulted, but it quickly became clear that this was a lucrative market that other manufacturers just couldn’t ignore. This has resulted in a spate of copy-cat designs which means that the Nissan now has plenty of competition.
So when Nissan came to launch the second-generation model in 2013 the design team had a bit more on their mind, especially as the Qashqai is now crucial to Nissan’s profitability.
The design team behind the original Qashqai were onto a bit of a winner. Moderate expectations and a design freedom meant they could work uninhibited. This is a luxury that couldn’t be afforded second time round as the Nissan has moved from a niche product to mass-market appeal. The result is an evolutionary design which looks to attract your average customer from their family hatchback rather than going after trendsetters.
Given this brief, the Qashqai presents itself well with a mature and confident exterior matched by a practical and well laid out interior. The exterior styling looks more dynamic than the previous model (continuing the direction set by the subtle yet very effective mid-life styling refresh of that generation) – it feels like it has grown up, got a hair cut, and bought some sensible shoes.
The biggest criticism we have is when a car promises one thing and delivers another. This is something that can’t be levelled at the Qashqai, it doesn’t look like a sports car and it doesn’t drive like one either. It is however perfectly capable, sure-footed and predictable. If you do push on you will ultimately find well-telegraphed understeer when the grip eventually runs out. In short it is well suited to its mass-market audience and is easy to drive.
The suspension is equally well-judged, soaking up the worst of the bumps with composure and containing body roll well enough. Combined with the roomy interior it makes the Nissan ideal for long journeys when you want to arrive refreshed rather than shaken and stirred.
The ubiquitous 1.5 dCi engine has also read the script and delivers sensible performance without much fuss. Thanks to 192 lb ft of torque available between 1750 – 2500 rpm, everyday traffic is easily dispatched and you don’t have to work the unit too hard.
The only really niggles are a slightly notchy gearbox and the lack of a left foot rest which can become a bit of an issue on long trips.
On paper it remains one of the most efficient crossovers on the market which is great news for running costs, as it puts the Qashqai into VED band A. On test we managed 46 mpg which is a good way short of the official figures but it is better than the 1.6 dCi 4×4 model we tested in 2012 which returned 42.8 mpg.
It is worth mentioning that diesel engines often loosen up considerably with use so with more miles on the clock fuel consumption is likely to be better for owners, particularly if you make a bit of an effort to drive efficiently.
Nissan prides itself on being at the cutting edge of technology as the Qashqai neatly demonstrates. The Acenta Premium sits in the middle of the range but still gets automatic hi lo headlights, front collision avoidance, traffic signal recognition, lane departure warning, 7-inch touch screen navigation, a separate 5-inch HD full colour TFT display, a panoramic glass roof, dual zone climate control, and a particularly useful reversing camera. Usually press cars come loaded with extras but tellingly the Qashqai had none.
The full range starts at £18,265 and tops out at £28,500. If you fancy a 4×4 model you only get one option which is the ranging-topping 1.6 dCi Tekna.
There aren’t many companies that can genuinely claim to have invented a new car sector but that is exactly what Nissan did in 2007. The second generation Qashqai builds on this success by providing the looks that buyers want, bullet-proof mechanicals, and excellent standard specifications.
As an all-rounder the Qashqai remains a great choice and only misses out on a 10/10 rating as it isn’t quite as much fun to drive as it could be, doesn’t meet Euro 6 emissions, and was a little thirstier than we would have liked during our time with the car.
The Qashqai is awarded a Green Car Guide 9 out of 10 rating.