- Stylish and functional cabin
- Well equipped
- Petrol engine thirsty
- Diesel slow to get going
What stands out?The Qashqai is the larger of two small SUVs Nissan sells (the other being the quirkily styled Juke). It costs less than the mid-sized X-Trail but comes with lots of equipment. Along with a spacious, well-presented and clever interior, it offers advanced crash-warning technology and a choice of petrol or diesel power.
What might bug me?Taking off from rest in diesel versions: the engine takes a moment to get going properly. You learn to allow for that, but it requires attention in city traffic.
Explaining to friends and family how to pronounce Qashqai. For the record, it’s “cash-kye”.
Driving under 80km/h on the space-saver spare until you can fix your full-sized flat tyre.
What body styles are there?Five-door wagon only.
All Qashqais drive the front wheels only, and the Qashqai is classed as a small SUV, lower priced.
What features does every Qashqai have?Cruise control, Bluetooth phone connectivity, and a colour touchscreen (a 5.0-inch unit for the ST and TS, and a 7.0-inch screen for the more expensive Ti and TL models).
A reversing camera, for better vision when parking.
A leather-wrapped steering wheel.
Aluminium alloy wheels, which are lighter than steel wheels. (And a space-saver spare wheel.)
Six airbags: two directly in front of the driver and front passenger; side airbags to protect the upper body of front occupants; and head-protecting curtain airbags for front and rear occupants.
The Qashqai is covered by a three-year, 100,000km warranty.
Which engine uses least fuel, and why wouldn't I choose it?The most fuel-efficient engine is the 1.6-litre four-cylinder turbo diesel used in the TS and TL models, consuming 4.9 litres/100km in official tests (urban and country combined). That’s very good.
One reason you might not want it is that the diesel engine comes only with an automatic transmission and is more expensive than the alternative petrol engine.
Additionally, it has a diesel particulate filter, which is not suited to predominantly urban driving. You need to spend 30 minutes at highway speeds every week or two, so that the filter can self-clean.
The diesel engine also gets a stop-start feature, which can automatically shut the engine down when the car is stationary, saving fuel.
The other engine, a 2.0-litre four-cylinder petrol, uses about 40 per cent more fuel when teamed to the auto transmission most buyers opt for, consuming 6.9 litres/100km. (With a manual gearbox it uses more again – to the point where it is among the thirstier small SUVs on sale.)
Only the petrol engine is available with a manual gearbox, a six-speeder. Both it and the diesel can be had with a CVT (continuously variable transmission) auto, which does away with gear ratios and adjusts the engine speed steplessly to your demands as a driver.
What key features do I get if I spend more?Possibly the key feature that you pay more for in a Qashqai is the diesel engine. In fact, the more expensive of the two petrol-engined Qashqais costs about the same as the less costly of the two diesels.
Nevertheless, if you step up in price from the cheaper petrol Qashqai, the ST, to the cheaper diesel, the TS, you also get more equipment. There is smart key entry, which allows you to unlock the doors without taking the key out of your pocket or bag. Headlamps on the TS switch on automatically in low light, and its exterior mirrors can be folded electrically (to reduce the chance of damage from other cars on narrow streets). There is dual-zone air-conditioning, which allows separate temperatures to be set for each side of the cabin.
Spend your money instead on the luxury petrol version, the Qashqai Ti, and you get in addition a parking assistance system, which can automatically steer the car into place. The Ti also has a sunroof, partial leather trim (it’s a mix between real and fake leather), heated front seats, a power-adjusted driver’s seat, and the bigger touchscreen with satellite navigation. Windscreen wipers operate automatically when it rains.
The Ti also has active safety features that include a lane departure warning (which alerts you if the car wanders out of its lane) and a blind spot warning (this alerts you if there is another car alongside, out of view, when you indicate to change lanes). And it has bigger, 19-inch wheels fitted with wider, lower-profile tyres.
The diesel engined Qashqai TL has the same equipment as the Qashqai Ti.
Does any upgrade have a down side?The lower profile tyres on Ti and TL models ride more roughly and could cost more to replace.
The diesel engine is more expensive to service. And you need to give it a highway run every couple of weeks, to clean the particulates filter.
White and black are the only standard colours, with the other six costing extra.
How comfortable is the Nissan Qashqai?The Qashqai has broad front seats, which are good for big adults – although small people may find themselves wishing the seat bolsters constrained them more narrowly. The seats are comfortable and can be easily adjusted in other respects to suit most people.
The touchscreen is easily accessible for both of the people in front and has a logical menu system. The ventilation system is user friendly also.
The Qashqai feels nice inside and the interior is generally well put together.
Steering is light and responsive and the turning circle is tight, so the Qashqai is easy to pilot around town. The cabin is well hushed and the suspension feels supple over bumps.
The 2.0-litre petrol engine is responsive and works best with the CVT auto, which quickly adapts to your needs and gives you good acceleration. The turbo diesel is less impressive around town, because it is a tad noisy and takes a while to wind up from a standstill. That can be disconcerting if you’re looking to dart out of a side street. It’s not helped in such conditions by the stop-start system, which adds to the wait.
What about safety in a Qashqai?Every Qashqai has the mandatory stability control, a full complement of airbags, seatbelt warnings for all five seats, and a rear-view camera. It is a package that prioritises your control of the car, your protection in a crash, and the safety of others when you are reversing.
All Qashqais but the ST come with auto headlights, which can respond to poor visibility before you would notice and turn them on. That could help other drivers see you.
TL and Ti Qashqais have active safety features that warn of a potential crash.
However, no Qashqai has automatic emergency braking, which would apply the brakes for you if you ignored the warning.
The Australasian New Car Assessment Program (ANCAP) rated the Qashqai’s safety at five stars, its maximum, in July 2014.
I like driving - will I enjoy this car?The Qashqai doesn’t lean much in bends, something that helps it feel planted on the road and responsive to driver inputs. It’s fun and drives more like a good car than a higher-riding SUV.
The Ti and TL models riding on the slightly wider, lower-profile tyres respond quicker to steering inputs, although there is little feedback sent through the wheel.
The 2.0-litre petrol engine accelerates well and the car feels perky, especially in CVT auto form.
The diesel easily builds freeway speeds and maintains them up hills, again helped by responsive CVT auto transmission.
The Qashqai may look like an off-roader but it drives only its front wheels, so is not designed to be used off-road.
How is life in the rear seats?The Qashqai is one of the bigger small SUVs and so it has good head and leg room in the back. The seat is mounted quite low, so people with long legs will sit with knees higher than usual. The rising line of the back windows could restrict vision for small children.
While the back seat is flat (unlike some that are dished in the outer positions), a centre passenger has to contend with the firmer, raised armrest in the seatback behind them and a central hump in the floor.
There are pockets in the rear doors and behind the front seats where you can store small items. But there are no rear air-conditioning ducts.
How is it for carrying stuff?Like the cabin, the Qashqai’s boot is big for a small SUV’s. Binnacles on either side are handy for small items, while the flat floor is relatively broad. The boot can be expanded significantly thanks to 60/40 split-fold rear seatbacks, although they do not fold completely flat.
There’s a clever removable shelf which can be used to create a slim secondary space hiding delicate or valuable items, and the shelf can also be locked in vertically to divide the boot.
Up front there is a deep centre console that’s great for small bags or myriad odds and ends. There are also large door pockets, a pair of cupholders and an open storage container (perfect for phones) forward of the gear stick.
Where does Nissan make the Qashqai?All Qashqais are produced in the United Kingdom.
What might I miss that similar cars have?Support for Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, which would let you display apps from your smartphone on the car’s touchscreen and use them from there. The Holden Trax offers this, for example.
An all-wheel drive system, for light-duty off-roading. The Mazda CX-3, Subaru XV, Suzuki Vitara and Mitsubishi ASX are available with all-wheel drive, for example.
Automatic emergency braking, which can slow or stop the car if the system concludes you are about to crash into an obstacle in front (typically another car that has slowed suddenly). The CX-3 and Toyota C-HR come with this, for example.
Other cars you might consider include the Honda HR-V, Renault Captur, Ford EcoSport, Citroen C4 Cactus, and Jeep Renegade.
When did Nissan update the Qashqai?The original Qashqai went on sale in 2014 as a replacement for the Nissan Dualis. A facelifted Qashqai was presented at the Geneva motor show in March 2017, and arrived the following December.
I like this car, but I can’t choose which version. Can you help?We like the Qashqai Ti with an auto gearbox. In most situations – and for most drivers – the petrol engine makes more sense, and we’d choose the CVT auto because it uses less fuel than the manual and should hold its value better. The step up to the Ti is also worth it given the additional equipment, including the active safety gear.
- Stylish and functional cabin
- Well equipped
- Petrol engine thirsty
- Diesel slow to get going
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