The Nissan Qashqai has scooped the What Diesel best medium family Car of The Year award, but do its honest-to-goodness qualities shine through when you’re paying over £22k for the privilege?
It’s fair to say that no one has been more surprised than Nissan by the success of the Qashqai – it’s been a huge hit with buyers looking for a family-friendly ride, but who still want something that looks cool in the office car park. The jacked up styling and tough body side cladding hint at off-roader, but the relatively compact dimensions and sprightly on-road dynamics shout driver’s car… Confused it might be, but the compact crossover Qashqai really works. But does the appealing urban knock about work quite so well when specced up to the hilt and given that four-wheel drive system that it deserves? At £22,099, there’s plenty of talented opposition out there – most of which isn’t segment hopping like the Qashqai.
For those who’ve not tried a Qashqai for size, and who may be expecting an uninspiring experience, then be prepared for a shock. In the city, the agreeably light and direct steering allows you to duck and dive with confidence, and the generous glass area affords excellent visibility. The ride quality is excellent, and in a world of Nürburgringhoned chassis set-ups, a rare gem. The multi-link rear axle means that rough roads are shrugged off with ease – great if your life is blighted with potholes. Handling, too, is a genuine surprise. Of course, it rolls in corners, but strong damping means that it never feels sloppy or out of control. Brakes are progressive and powerful, while the electric power steering set-up delivers enough feel to keep the driver informed.
With the torquey 2-litre dCi power unit under the bonnet, performance is well up to expectations, even if refinement isn’t top-drawer. The £1,100 optional six-speed automatic gearbox is well matched, too, and the tiptronic-style manual shift alternative makes sense when you’re enjoying what the Qashqai has to offer when the going gets tough.
Finally, is the 4WD transmission worth an extra £1,400? Hit by freakish spring snowstorms during the test, the additional traction the system affords is priceless. So, I’d say a qualified yes, if you’re a country dweller.
Nissan might like to think that the Qashqai can go midi-MPV chasing, but in truth, there’s not really enough passenger room or flexibility. Up front, the news is good, with generous head and legroom, and the feeling of space that’s accentuated by that full-length panoramic roof. However, rear room is only adequate, and you’ll not find any MPV-style seat adjusters to play with, either. Entry and exit is excellent though. It’s high off the ground and the doors open commendably wide. The boot is voluminous, despite the relatively high loading lip. The interior quality is no more than average. Some of the switchgear feels second rate, while the dashboard plastics are nothing to write home about. The leather trim is pleasant, the reversing camera soon becomes indispensable, and the equipment level generous, but at this price level, you can’t help but feel slightly shortchanged.
We like the Qashqai a lot – and so do you. But feel that the best option is to save money and plump for the mid-range Acenta model and do without the 4WD and autobox. It’s an appealing package that offers most things to most people – and it looks very cool while it’s doing it – but, frankly, at this price there are better ways to spend your hard earned cash.
ON SALE: Now RANGE STARTS AT : £15,119 for 1.5 dci visia
- Price: £22,099
- Engine: 1994cc, 4 cylinder, turbodiesel
- Gearbox: 6-speed automatic
- Max Power: 148bhp at 4,000rpm
- Max Torque: 236lb ft at 2,000rpm
- Max Towing Weight: 1,350kg
- Combined Consumption: 36.2mpg
- CO 2 Emissions (taxband): 208g/km (F)
- 0-62mph: 12.0 seconds
- Max speed: 115mph
- Insurance group: 10
It’s chunky, funky and hunky, withstanding all that family life will throw at it
At this price level, interior quality doesn’t impress enough. Genuine 4x4s are a better bet if you’re looking for off-road ability…