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Qash is still king for Nissan

New refined Qashqai's well worth a look, says Ryan Hirons

Walk down any street in the UK and you're likely to see a Nissan Qashqai, if not several. The British-designed, British-engineered and British-made car has been a favourite since it launched in 2006, going on to dominate UK SUV sales.

Its second generation came about in 2014. It was subsequently given a mid-life refresh in 2017. Nissan refuses to rest on its laurels, though, and has now gone on to refresh the engine line-up for the crossover.

What's new?

On the surface, you'll struggle to see a change in this refreshed Qashqai, and that's understandable, with it looking identical to the 2017 facelift.

New here is that refreshed engine line-up. Introduced is a 1.3-litre petrol engine co-developed with Daimler, available in 138bhp and 158bhp form. There's also the option for a dual-clutch automatic gearbox on 158bhp models, making the Qashqai the first non-GT-R Nissan to get a DCT gearbox.

Inside, changes are limited to a new infotainment system, which Nissan claims to have benchmarked against the iPad, rather than competitors, from the start in an effort to develop the most user-friendly system possible.

What's under the bonnet?

The headline of this refresh is the engine line-up, with a 1.3-litre petrol engine available in two forms, while a sole diesel flies the flag for the black pump contingent.

Our test car was fitted with the 1.3-litre petrol engine in its most potent form, paired up to the new seven-speed, dual-clutch transmission.

The powertrain develops 158bhp and 270Nm of torque, capable of 0-60mph in 9.7 seconds and onto a 124mph top speed. Nissan claims 52.3mpg on the combined cycle, with a CO2 output of 122g/km.

The package feels well-refined and suited to the car, offering good power delivery across the rev range and allowing the Qashqai to hustle about with minimal effort. The DCT is pretty smooth in regular driving, but does unravel a little when asked more of on a country road.

What's it like to drive?

Powertrain aside, the Qashqai remains mechanically identical to the pre-refresh line-up. It continues to be a decent machine to drive, offering well-weighted steering and a lot of feedback, which can't be said for many cars in its class.

It's in town driving that the Qashqai really excels, though. Visibility is good all round, while its finely tuned steering means it's pretty nimble for a car of its size and can be easily piloted down narrow streets.

Even motorways don't faze the car. Refinement is good, with little wind or engine noise coming in to the cabin, while the supple ride, albeit on smooth Spanish roads for us, adds to a comfortable package.

How does it look?

Nissan has refrained from tweaking the design of the Qashqai, but its 2017 facelift means it still looks the part. Sharp LED headlights head up the Japanese firm's design, giving it a distinctive presence on the road, with that look continued by the angular tail lights. Other changes in the previous facelift include more aggressive-looking bumpers and the option of restyled 19-inch alloy wheels, along with a shaken-up colour palette.

What's it like inside?

Things remain the same inside the cabin, and that's no bad thing. The Tekna+ model we tried had a lush leather interior and trimmings, while scratchy plastics were few and far between, which again can't always be said for rivals. It still seats five and retains a 430-litre boot space, though some rivals have a notable amount more, such as the Vauxhall Grandland X's 514-litre capacity.

What's the spec like?

New for the Qashqai, and for Nissan as a whole, is a fresh version of the NissanConnect infotainment system. It's been overdue, with the old software clunky and outdated compared with other manufacturers' offerings - and it's fair to say the redesign has been something of a success.

Along with TomTom Traffic Premium satnav, the system features a more streamlined way of searching for destinations, along with 3D mapping.

While not the best system on the market, it's a huge improvement over Nissan's old system. If you'd prefer, though, Android Auto and Apple CarPlay also come as standard on all but entry-level Visia models.

Pricing for the Nissan Qashqai begins at £19,595, giving it a comfortable gap underneath key rivals, although the firm hasn't confirmed how much DCT-equipped cars will cost.

Verdict

Although not earth-shattering, the tweaks to the Qashqai are set to keep it at the forefront of the market, with the new petrol engines boasting impressive efficiency and low running costs, while the new NissanConnect means the car now competes on the connectivity front too.

The driving experience remains among the best in its class, while its famed value for money continues - almost guaranteeing it to be a sales success.

Facts at a glance

Model: Nissan Qashqai Tekna+

Price: TBA

Engine: 1.3-litre petrol

Power (bhp): 158

Torque (Nm): 270

Max speed (mph): 124

0-60mph: 9.7 seconds

MPG (combined): 52.3

Emissions (g/km): 122

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