Trying to choose between the Hyundai Tucson and Nissan Qashqai? Ben Griffin puts the two crossovers into the ring to find a winner.
Readers with a family, pets or both will have probably considered the crossover malarkey at some point, mainly because you get SUV-like practicality, and few of the downsides.
Right now there are plenty to choose between, with two of the best protagonists being the Hyundai Tucson and the Nissan Qashqai.
Can the Hyundai, a relative newcomer, overcome an established rival? We thought it was a good idea to put both contestants in the ring to see which is the right choice and why.
The Nissan Qashqai is a car that cares more about headroom than head-turning. It’s been around for seemingly ages now, and while it’s never going to carve a hole in your soul and fill it with joy, it’s certainly attractive enough.
Step inside the Qashqai and you are greeted by a stylish interior with enough gadgets and modern conveniences to keep you happy and without too many cheap plastics to ruin things.
The slightly larger Hyundai Tucson looks rather similar to the Qashqai. However a few key differences, such as the chunky front grille and less cluttered rear-end, make it more appealing – plus there are fewer of them on the roads.
The Tucson’s interior is just as well thought-out and seems durable, with a sensible layout for all the buttons making life easy for technophobes. It’s a close first round and one largely based on opinion, but we have to give it to the fresher Tucson.
Winner: Hyundai Tucson
Boot space comes in at 430 litres for the Qashqai with the rear seats up and 1,585 litres when you lie them down flat. You get a storage area between the comfortable front seats and various cubby holes to store your things.
Interior space is reasonable, although the really tall among us might find the rear seats a tad cramped. There’s also a lack of rear visibility, which can be annoying for parking even with parking sensors and cameras in play.
Being the larger car benefits the Tucson here because you get 530 litres of boot space ─ 100 more than the Qashqai. But with the rear seats folded down the total is smaller, at 1,503 litres, so you’ll get marginally less alcohol in when you do the annual booze cruise. At least the rear seats recline.
The Tucson also benefits from an automatic tailgate so you can more easily close the boot. Both cars benefit from park distance sensors to help prevent you damaging them while parking.
Overall, the Hyundai has more head and legroom so it’s going to be slightly more comfortable on longer journeys. Given you are more likely to want to keep the rear seats up, the bigger boot is also more useful. Tucson wins.
Winner: Hyundai Tucson
Performance & handling
You can choose between four engines for the Qashqai, two diesel and two petrol. The smallest is the 1.2 DIG-T petrol with 115PS and 190Nm of torque. It’s noisy and too slow to pick up speed, making it a pain on a busy roundabout or junction where you need to be quick.
The 150PS 1.6 DIG-T and its 240Nm of torque is the one to go for if you prefer petrol engines as it’s punchy, but then the diesels make the most sense as they pull harder at low revs and are more effortless to drive.
It’s much the same story for the Tucson. Two power outputs (132 and 177PS) for a 1.6-litre petrol provide ample performance, are refined unless you really gun it and work well with the seven-speed dual-clutch automatic (a six-speed manual transmission is also available).
But the three diesels are the most potent (one 1.7-litre and two versions of a 2.0-litre), offering strong pulling power and a relatively quiet ride. In terms of engine performance, there’s not much between them.
Off-roading is possible in both cars, as four-wheel drive can be specced for a little extra peace of mind, but the two-wheel drive is grippy enough for most people, cheaper and more efficient.
Both cars offer solid handling but the winner in this respect depends on what you want from a drive. Nissan has made the Qashqai very smooth and quiet, which will please those who like to go from A to B without fuss.
The Tucson, meanwhile, is just as composed and handles bumps in its stride but makes you feel a bit more involved, although the steering is somewhat detached. Neither car will throw up any surprises but those expecting fun will be disappointed. We’ll call this a draw.
Economy & environment
The Qashqai’s 1.2 DIG-T petrol outputs a mere 129g/km of CO2, which is 15g/km less than the outgoing 1.6-litre. It promises a claimed 50.4mpg but in reality it takes effort to get it going and so the actual figure will be lower.
The cheapest to run Qashqai engine in terms of tax is the 1.5dCi 110PS, as it spits out just 99g/km of CO2 with a claimed 74.3mpg. Those who want more performance have the 1.6dCi to go to, complete with 115g/km of CO2 and 64.2mpg in two-wheel drive form.
Hyundai’s Tucson has a variety of frugal engines, but the closest it can get to the Qashqai’s 1.5dCi (on paper) is with the 1.7-litre diesel, which manages 61.7mpg and 119g/km. In the real world the Tucson’s diesels will only be slightly behind, but the Qashqai wins clearly here.
Winner: Nissan Qashqai
Equipment & value
Let’s start with the base Qashqai. £18,545 gets you the two-wheel drive Visia model, which has Hill Start Assist, Bluetooth, cruise control, 16-inch steel wheels, CD player, ISOFIX child seat points, 60:40 folding rear seats, and an electronic parking brake in addition to the sluggish 1.2-litre DIG-T 115 engine and the six-speed manual.
The cheapest Tucson you can buy (£18,695) is the 1.6 GDi 132PS petrol with a manual box and two-wheel drive. This comes with 16-inch alloy wheels (not steel), split folding rear seats, electric windows throughout, automatic headlights, Bluetooth connectivity and air conditioning.
In its cheapest form, then, the Tucson is king. Spend £20,130 on the Qashqai for the next level up, Acenta, and you get the same engine, with the addition of 17-inch alloy wheels, USB port, dual-zone climate control, automatic lights and wipers and electric folding door mirrors.
Spend £21,140 on a Tucson and you have access to the SE 1.7CRDi with a manual gearbox, which is better on fuel and cheaper to tax. It’s also more powerful, faster and the SE spec also has 17-inch alloys in addition to roof rails, heated front seats, LED brake lights and Lane Departure Warning with Lane Keep Assist.
Suffice to say, the Tucson excels on a lower budget but if you purely want the best efficiency numbers and can cope with a sluggish drive, the dCi 110 manual can be had from as little as £20,295 and this has the Tucson’s best offering beat.
The top-level Premium SE Tucson, which starts from £28,345, gets a panoramic roof, heated steering wheel, smart electric tailgate, ventilated front seats and LED headlights amongst other niceties
Spend £28,910 on the top-level Qashqai Tekna and you get a panoramic roof, 19-inch alloy wheels, Bi-LED headlamps, full leather seats, heated front seats, Intelligent Parking Assist and Safety Shield comprising an Around View Monitor, Blind Spot Warning, Moving Object Detection and Driver Support Assist.
To sweeten the Tucson deal, it comes with a five-year unlimited mileage warranty no matter what trim level you go for. Nissan only offers three years or 60,000 miles.
Tough call here. The Tucson is better value but both cars offer serious levels of gadgets atop the range. Based on the numbers and the fact you get a more frugal engine at a lower price point, the Tucson just wins.
Winner: Hyundai Tucson
Another close call here. The Nissan Qashqai and Hyundai Tucson can be specced with a host of features that improve safety, such as automatic braking in the event of an emergency and the Euro NCAP slapped them both with a five-star rating.
The Tucson performed well for adult occupancy, at 86 per cent, while the Qashqai also scored well here, beating the Tucson by two per cent. In terms of child protection and pedestrian safety, the Tucson wins (partly thanks to an active bonnet system that cushions the impact of a pedestrian or cyclist), but the Qashqai fared better in the safety gadget category.
Ultimately we’re splitting hairs here because both cars will do a good job in preventing a crash and in the worst case they will provide a strong level of safety.
As you can see, it’s extremely close. Both cars are safe, look the part and will cope with the worst a family can throw at them and come back for more. So which is best?
Those on a tight budget will find the Tucson the better buy as you get more stuff, it has more interior space, looks more modern, is slightly more exclusive and has a more generous warranty.
The Qashqai starts to pull ahead once you spec its 1.5dCi in terms of running costs, which means it’ll be cheaper to own if you drive a lot of miles.
Both cars are great cars for family life, but right now we have to give the victory to the Tucson. Just.
Overall winner: Hyundai Tucson