Ian Robertson welcomes a new kid on the block. Replacing the Note on the What Diesel fleet, its bigger brother, the Qashqai, is already making a favourable impression on the family
Having run the Sunlit Copper, aka Tango’d, Nissan Note for the past six months, it was time to wave it goodbye from the What Diesel fleet. It quickly gained a great reputation in the family, and had it not been for the fact that we knew that the even more talented Qashqai was replacing it, there really could have been a nasty scene when the driver came to collect it. The versatile sliding seat arrangement swallowed up a pushchair and shopping with ease, and coupled with a family friendly interior, it was a sure fire winner. This resulted in the little Note receiving an award in the What Diesel New Years Honours List earlier this year. The replacement Qashqai arrived resplendent in Fired Iron, a mix between metallic red and a fiery orange. I had expected it to be a little more red from the brochures, but it doesn’t disappoint nonetheless, and still looks pretty eyecatching. We plumped for what is the most popular engine in the range, the 1.5dCi. Over half of all Qashqai buyers have done the same, with the 1.6 petrol engine following in second place, with around a quarter share. We also chose the most common specification, the mid-range Acenta trim level, where two-thirds of all Qashqai’s purchased are to the same spec. Apart from the Fired Iron metallic paint, we chose not to tick the options boxes, keeping our longtermer to standard specification. According to Nissan, the most popular factory fitted option is the panoramic roof, but we chose not to indulge.
The number of different Qashqai models that you can buy is vast, and is made up of three trim levels – base Visia, mid-range Acenta, and top-of-the-range Tekna. Once you’ve chosen your equipment level, you can then choose between two turbodiesel engines (1.5dCi and 2.0dCi), and two petrol units (1.6 16v and 2.0 16v). If you plump for either of the larger engines, the 2.0 16v or 2.0dCi, you then have a choice of two or four-wheel-drive and you can also decide upon a 6-speed manual, or a CVT automatic gearbox. See, I told you the choice is vast! And that is even before you’ve had a glance down the factory fitted options list. Equipment wise, the mid-range Acenta, is very well equipped, with dual zone climate control, four electric windows, fuel computer, electric and heated door mirrors, leather steering wheel and gear-knob, sixdisc CD autochanger, Bluetooth hands-free telephone system, rain sensor, automatic headlights and cruise control. In addition, 16-inch alloy wheels, front fog lamps and rear parking sensors are all fitted as standard.
Early impressions are very good indeed, and the family has already given it a firm thumbs up. It offers considerably more space than the Note, as you’d expect, but doesn’t feel any more cumbersome or clumsy to drive. With its upright SUV style stance, visibility is good and gives you a commanding view of the road ahead. All of the controls are familiar and clearly come from the same family as the Note. That made it very easy to transfer from the old car, to the new.
With a body as big as the Qashqai, you would expect the 1.5dCi engine to struggle, but it really doesn’t. It pulls cleanly and is aided by the smooth, and positive six-speed gearbox. Obviously it’s no formula one car, but it is swift enough for any family. And when you factor in the 52.3mpg that is supposed to be achievable on the combined cycle, it’s a compelling proposition.
What makes the Qashqai even more of a success story is the fact that it was designed in the UK at the Paddington design studio in London, engineered at Nissan’s Cranfield engineering facility and is made at the Sunderland plant in the north of England. Nissan is currently creating a third shift at the UK plant in order to keep up with the demand for the car. Who says the UK hasn’t got a car industry!Drive Time
- Price when new: £16,399 (£16,824 incl. options)
- Engine: 1461cc, 4 cylinder turbodiesel
- Max Power: 105bhp at 4,000rpm
- Max Torque: 177lb ft at 2,000rpm
- Combined Consumption: 52.3mpg (43.2mpg on test)
- CO2 Emissions (taxband): 145g/km (C)
- Max speed: 108mph
- Date arrived: 22nd January 2008
- Mileage on delivery: 226 miles
- Mileage to date: 592 miles
- Costs to date: None
- Faults to date: None