Tried and tested: The new tech-focused Nissan Qashqui crossover
The new Nissan Qashqai has landed in the UK.
Simon Davis takes the original crossover for a drive to see how it fares.
What is it?
Ask anyone at Nissan and they'll tell you that the Qashqai is the original crossover vehicle. The first-generation model was launched back in 2007, and since then the Japanese manufacturer has gone on to sell around 2.3 million examples in Europe alone.
Now in its second generation, Nissan is confident that the latest Qashqai will be able to continue on the success of its predecessor.
From an aesthetic point of view, not a huge deal has changed with the new Qashqai compared with the second-generation model that was launched in 2014. There's a slightly revised front end, with a larger 'V-motion' grille, sleeker headlights and taillights and more chrome brightwork to help give the Qashqai a more upmarket image.
A new top-flight trim level has also been introduced - called Tekna+ - which Nissan hopes will appeal to those buyers after a more premium crossover. There's also greater emphasis on refinement in the cabin.
The biggest headline with the new Qashqai, however, is Nissan's ProPilot autonomous driving technology. This will be available from 2018, and will allow the Qashqai to control its steering, acceleration and braking in a single lane on motorways at cruising speed and in heavy traffic.
What's under the bonnet?
We were handed the keys to the range-topping Tekna+ model, which was fitted with Nissan's 1.5-litre four-cylinder diesel engine. This power plant develops a modest 109bhp and 260Nm of torque, which allows for a 0-60mph sprint time of 11.7 seconds and a top speed of 113mph.
While performance might not be this engine's forte, it's certainly impressive as far as economy is concerned. Nissan claims the 1.5-litre diesel unit can manage a combined fuel consumption figure of 74.3mpg, while CO2 emissions stand at 99g/km.
What's it like to drive?
To say the Nissan Qashqai is an exciting car to drive would be an overstatement. It's certainly capable, but it's not going to set your heart racing with any outstanding dynamic abilities. Through the corners, it's predictable and while there is a bit of body roll, it's not enough to make you feel unsettled.
While the Qashqai may not be at home on a winding country back road, as a long-distance cruiser it makes a great deal of sense. Even on those large 19-inch alloy wheels, our test vehicle dealt with imperfections in the road rather well, and there wasn't a great deal of road or wind noise that made its way into the cabin. The seats are also impressively comfortable, combining a good amount of softness and support.
How does it look?
Compared with its predecessor, not a great deal has changed. The front end has been touched up a bit, while the back end of the car has also been slightly revised. There's new headlight and taillights, while the V-Motion grille at the front end of the car has also been enlarged.
Higher-specification models feature a greater amount of exterior chrome brightwork to help give the Qashqai a more upmarket look.
While these changes certainly aren't drastic, they do help the Qashqai look fresh when compared with its immediate rivals. That said, they don't go far enough to making the Qashqai look truly desirable. It's certainly not unattractive, but it's not going to excite anyone, either.
What's it like inside?
You can tell that Nissan has really worked hard to make the interior of the latest Qashqai an appealing place to sit. Our top-flight Tekna+ model featured plush quilted leather seats, a premium Bose stereo system and smart-looking piano black panelling around the infotainment system. However, while these features might go some way to lifting the appeal of the Qashqai, there are still a number of surfaces that remind you it isn't quite the premium crossover it's cracked up to be.
As far as interior space is concerned, the Qashqai will easily meet the needs of most families. There's more than enough room across the back seats for three children, and two taller adult passengers will also be able to ride in comfort over longer journeys. Boot space stands at 430 litres with the rear seats in place, and can be increased to 1,598 litres with the seats folded down.
What's the spec like?
As you would expect from a top-level trim, Tekna+ offers Qashqai buyers plenty of kit for their money. Prices start at a fairly considerable £27,830 and will get you standard equipment such as full Nappa leather upholstery, a premium Bose sound system, electronically adjustable driver's seat and a panoramic glass roof.
However, the vast majority of Qashqai customers will likely opt for the mid-range N-Connecta models, which start at £23,805. Standard equipment with this trim level includes a seven-inch touchscreen with satellite navigation, 18-inch alloys, and a range of driver assist systems such as intelligent emergency braking and lane departure warning.
The new Nissan Qashqai may not be the most exciting on sale, or even in its segment, but that's not to say it isn't incredibly capable. We'd probably steer clear of the top-flight Tekna+ model and opt instead for one of the more affordable mid-range models, as they represent better value for money in our eyes, but if you can afford it, it's unlikely you'll be disappointed with the top-flight car.