Starting Price: €32,000
Price as tested: €38,400
- Much better to drive, better interior quality.
- No longer has the segment to itself and some rivals are now better.
WHAT IS IT?
The Nissan Qashqai is the original of the species. When it was launched in 2007, there wasn’t really anything to match it as it made very little attempt to be a proper SUV, but aimed itself squarely at those people that wanted the look of an SUV, in a more car-like package. The gamble worked and they sold like the proverbial hotcakes, especially here in Ireland, where it was Ireland’s best-selling car for what seemed like forever. There have been more than 3 million Qashqai sold in Europe and 5 million worldwide.
The problem with starting a trend is that when competition comes along they have more than likely studied your form and learned a lot from the path that you created. This has been very true with the Qashqai. Nissan suffered from ‘second album syndrome’ with the Mark II Qashqai, which was a little underwhelming, as other brands caught up and overtook Nissan – namely the Koreans – Hyundai and Kia. Hyundai’s Tucson is now the class leader and deservingly so and Nissan is playing catch-up, but is this new 3rd generation Qashqai going to help things?
HOW ABOUT THE LOOKS?
Well in terms of looks, this is a good start because it is a totally new design, and much prettier overall. It has touches of what will be the new Nissan Ariya, which is a good thing and it looks much more executive than before, but still quite tame compared to the Hyundai Tuscon. There is a reflection of the global design language, notably the V-Motion grille and “floating roof”. At the front there is an enlarged Nissan V-Motion grille, finished in chrome with a secondary pinstripe of satin chrome. There are slim, full LED advanced matrix headlamps with boomerang daylight running lights. The overall silhouette of the car remains very familiar, but everything does look a bit more special.
It sits on an all-new platform called CMF-C and the wheelbase of the car has increased by 20mm with the overall length increasing by 35mm. There is a marginal increase in height (+25mm) and width has increased by 32mm. For the first time, buyers can choose 20” alloy wheels as an option too.
WHAT IS THE INSIDE LIKE?
There are big improvements here, with a much better level of interior quality and a more generous cabin too. The longer wheelbase gives more room for users.
Knee room for rear occupants has grown by 28mm to 608mm and taller drivers and passengers upfront will also be happy with more headroom. Our SV Premium model came with a 9” Infotainment system, Wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, front and rear USB-A and -C as well as Premium part-leather upholstery and Ambient Lighting.
Luggage capacity has increased by 74-litres from the previous generation model thanks in part to the cargo floor being lowered by 20mm.
WHAT IS IT LIKE TO DRIVE?
The Qashqai comes with a quicker steering rack, which makes parking and city driving a bit easier. Visibility is good, with a good driving position and the new infotainment system is impressive and works very well, with our test car featuring Wireless Apple CarPlay / Android Auto, Wireless Charging and a 9” infotainment system.
The 1.3-litre MHEV engine has 136hp and 240Nm of torque and this is more than enough for this car, which never feels overwhelmed. It is a much better car to drive than before, even if our model came with the Torsion Beam Rear Suspension rather than the Multi-Link setup which only comes with cars with 20” Alloy Wheels or All-Wheel Drive.
The car is lighter than before, and the addition of the MHEV battery has only added 22kg, get the overall weight of the Qashqai has dropped by around 60kg. Few of the SUV models are that interesting to drive as they are always flawed compared to a regular car in terms of driving dynamics, but this Qashqai is now the best it has ever been to drive.
WHICH ONE SHOULD I BUY?
The range, for now, is pretty simple, in that you can have one engine, the 1.3-litre petrol, which is a mild-hybrid (MHEV) and that is where the entry point of the range comes in, with a reasonably simple car with a decent enough level of equipment, going to set you back €32,000. Here you will get Bluetooth, Manual Air Conditioning, a 7” TFT Colour Display and all of the safety kit. Move up to the SV specification for another €2,700 and things get a lot better with the arrival of things like 17” Alloy Wheels, an A-IVI 8” Display with 6 speakers, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, 1 Front USB Type A and Type C, Dual Zone Air Conditioning and a Leather Steering Wheel & Gear Shift. You also here have the option of going for a higher-power (156hp) CVT version, but there is quite a jump in price, Nissan asking for €3,500. Our test car was the SV Premium, with a 6-speed Manual Gearbox, costing €37,700, which jumps to €38,400 with the addition of €700 Metallic Paint. Our SV Premium grand added larger 18” alloy wheels, Privacy Glass, Silver Rear Bumper inserts, Premium Park Leather Seat trim, Auto-Dimming rearview mirror, A-IVI Navi 9” with Connected Services, a Wireless Smartphone Charger, Wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, 2 Rear USBs (A & C), Around View Moving Object Detection and Moving Object Detection, Front Parking Sensors, Ambient Lighting, Luggage Boards and Hooks and a Soft PVC knee pad. There are two additional grades above this – the SV Tech starts from €42,200 and the full kitchen-sink-thrown-at-it spec, the €47,600 SVE. There are no-cost options, paint-wise, of Red or White, and there are five two-tone paint options which cost €1,000. In terms of rivals, Hyundai is by far the most popular model in this segment and indeed is Ireland’s best-selling car and this starts at €38,545 as a Hybrid (Series Hybrid), the Toyota RAV4, also a Series Hybrid, starts from €40,145, the new Kia Sportage as a Mild Hybrid, like the Qashqai starts from €38,000 and if you want a hybrid Volkswagen Tiguan, that will be the PHEV and that kicks off from €42,245 in Life trim. What this adds up to is that the SV Premium manual model looks like good value at €37,700 and is the one we would also choose.
IS IT SAFE?
The standard safety kit on the Qashqai is very impressive and this is an area where the model scores very highly. Standard fit on the entry-level XE grade in terms of safety is the same as in the top-spec model and includes Intelligent Front Emergency Braking with Pedestrian & Cyclist Recognition & Junction assist, Intelligent Forward Collision Warning, Lane Departure Prevention, Blind Spot Intervention, Driver Attention Alert, Intelligent Cruise Control, Traffic sign recognition, Rear Cross Traffic Alert, Rear Automatic Braking and Vehicle Dynamic Control amongst others.
The new Qashqai has some ground to make up to catch up with the Hyundai Tuscon as a top-seller in Ireland, but with this latest generation model, it can now stand toe-to-toe once again with the best of the Koreans. It is good value when you drill into the spec and equipment levels and in particular, this SV Premium grade makes a lot of sense.
Nissan Qashqai 1.3 Petrol Mild Hybrid SV Premium
Engine: 1.3-litre four-cylinder petrol engine with mild hybrid
Power: 138 hp
Fuel Economy: 6.4 l/100km
Top Speed: 206 km/h
Transmission: 6-speed manual
Annual Motor Tax: €270
Luggage Capacity: 504-litres to 1,593-litres.
Price as tested: €38,400
For more information log-on to www.nissan.ie