All Sections

2017 Nissan Qashqai review: First drive

The Good

  • Improved looks
  • Practical
  • Composed

The Bad

  • Still a bit dull
  • Interior starting to look dated
3.5

The crossover is a popular vehicle type for Brits and the Nissan Qashqai is one of the best-sellers. Now there is a new version, which Recombu Cars took for a spin around Oxford.

Travel anywhere in the UK and you will inevitably see a Juke or Qashqai along the way. Probably both. Nissan took a gamble on an odd-looking combination of SUV and car and, as past sales indicate, it proved to be an extremely lucrative move.

Nissan has actually shifted 2.3-million Qashqais since it arrived in 2007, having replaced the Almera and Primera. In March 2017 alone 33,000 practical-minded motorists bought one ─ that was 44 cars every hour.

Back then the Qashqai was relatively unchallenged, but these days there are plenty of rivals such as the Seat Ateca, VW Tiguan, Kia Sportage, Renault Kadjar, Suzuki Vitara, Hyundai Tucson, Ford Kuga and Honda CR-V. That’s not even all of them.

Things are tougher than ever for Nissan, then, but Brits like the fact the Qashqai is a car predominantly designed, built and engineered right here in England and that it is relatively affordable, reliable and ticks the practicality box.

Can Nissan continue its dominance with the 2017 Qashqai? We headed to Oxford for the UK launch to find out. But before we deliver our initial verdict, here’s a look at the new changes.

2017 Nissan Qashqai review: What’s new?

Changing too much would have been a dangerous move so Nissan kept it familiar. The 2017 Qashqai is 17mm longer to help improve practicality, while the height (1,806mm) and width (1,595mm) remain unchanged.

At the front is a new front bumper, which features the latest version of the V-motion grille and a new badge, which is actually flatter if you purchase a trim level with autonomous emergency braking because the system now sits behind it.

The tail lights, meanwhile, have been tweaked to make the rear look wider and the parking sensors now sit flush, giving the 2017 Qashqai a slightly cleaner and classier posterior.

As for boot space, you get an extra 20 litres with the rear seats folded flat – one of 16 different boot configurations to make carrying stuff easier, thanks to various shelves and dividers – for a total of 1,585 litres or 430 litres with them up. The Bose subwoofer option reduces the total to 410 litres.

You can also spec various paintjobs with solid, metallic and pearlescent finishes, including the hard to miss Vivid Blue and Chestnut Bronze, and new alloy wheels designs in 17, 18 and 19-inch sizes. There is also a new Bose sound system (that sounds excellent), taking the total to three options.

In terms of engines, there is an entry-level 1.2-litre that has 113bhp and a rather painfully slow 0-62mph time, a 1.5-litre diesel with more low-down grunt and two 1.6-litres atop the range, one petrol and one diesel.

Two and four-wheel drive is available on certain engines as before and the former is more than enough for motorists who live somewhere other than the middle of nowhere. A lack of all-wheel drive also means the car is lighter and more efficient.

As for safety systems, autonomous emergency braking (known in Nissan speak as Intelligent Emergency Braking or IEB) is fitted to N-Connecta models and above, making them safer and less likely to crash ─ even if you aren’t concentrating.

Inside, you can expect a chunkier steering wheel (as seen in the new Micra) and materials Nissan claim are of better quality. In reality, it looks familiar, with hard-wearing textured plastics making even the plusher models look cheap.

It must be said, alongside a Peugeot 3008 or BMW X3, for example, and the 2017 Qashqai appears dated and unsophisticated. Sure, it will survive the rigours of spilled fizzy drinks, wet dog and over-excited children, but that is as far as it goes.

What works?

The 2017 Qashqai looks nicer from the outside.

What doesn’t?

We wish the same could be said of the interior, which is starting to age badly.

2017 Nissan Qashqai review: How well does it drive?

Very much like the Qashqai before it, which is hardly surprising given the relative lack of mechanical changes. It’s a pleasant, but ultimately uninvolving thing to drive yet it has a level of handling competence some of its competitors lack. Not only that, it feels like a relatively small car.

There is a lightness to the steering that makes it easy to manoeuvre, especially as a new technology called Active Return Control helps return the wheel to the centre more naturally, but it is direct and precise enough for spirited countryside jaunts.

Nissan wanted to make the 2017 Qashqai better on British roads, a move it hoped to achieve with retuned dampers, reducing the spring rates and introducing a stiffer anti-roll bar. Modifications made easier because of testing in the UK.

In reality, the new Qashqai can struggle to settle down and feels firmer and less forgiving than before. It clatters over larger bumps, and gets all jittery over the smaller ones, especially with larger 19-inch alloys. The Ford Kuga and Edge we drove a day later proved more comfortable.

But a benefit of reduced body roll is a new-found sense of agility and composure. Driving faster feels more natural, although it is still a car that never really makes you want to bother doing anything but cruise responsible. Rivals such as the Tucson, 3008 and Ateca offer more involvement.

The 1.6-litre petrol offers plenty of grunt, which you would expect from a 0-62mph of 8.9 seconds and 160bhp. Its diesel sibling of the same displacement is even punchier, thanks to 236lb/ft of torque from 1,750rpm.

You are definitely better off avoiding the 1.2-litre and CVT because it is a gutless combination that makes pulling onto a roundabout and overtaking more dangerous than they should be for a car designed to keep your family safe.

Nissan has also made the Qashqai quieter and more refined. This was done using more sound insulation material in the front doors and behind the rear wheel arches, while the rear door glass is 0.7mm thicker.

Work the slick six-speed gearbox and the diesel engine pipes down to a barely audible din, but it can sound a bit thrashy at higher revs. Still, the new Qashqai is adequately refined (certainly better than its predecessor) for family life and there is never too much need to push the bigger engines too hard.

It is also more comfortable when you go for higher spec models fitted with new seats, in part thanks to their shape and ability to partially soak up road imperfections, and the optional panoramic roof that floods the cabin with natural light.

What works?

The ride is sportier than before and better in the corners.

What doesn’t?

It can be just too firm for increasingly damaged British roads.

2017 Nissan Qashqai review: Cost & value for money

Running the Qashqai should be relatively cheap and cheerful, thanks to reasonable levels of depreciation, decent fuel economy and low CO2 outputs.

The 1.5 dCi 110PS is the cheapest of them all, with its 99g/km and 74.3mpg combined figures exceeding that of the 1.6 dCi, which manages 116g/km and a claimed 64.2mpg.

Hardly surprising is the fact the petrol engines are more expensive to run, although the 1.2 DIG-T’s 129g/km and 50.4mpg combined is still competitive, as is the 1.6 DIG-T’s 134g/km and 48.7mpg. Given the need to push the smaller petrol outputs harder, going up a size makes sense.

The very bottom rung of the Qashqai is occupied by the Visia, which comes with six airbags, manual air-conditioning, Bluetooth connectivity, DAB digital radio, four-speaker audio system, cruise control with speed limiter and electrically adjustable heated door mirrors.

Prices start from £19,295 for the 1.2 DIG-T 115 petrol with a six-speed manual and two-wheel drive. The more useful 1.5 dCi 110 starts at £21,045 and comes with the same gearbox.

Above that is Acenta, which adds 17-inch alloys instead of 16-inch steels among other things and costs from £23,430, but you will end up paying another £300 if you want to ditch the CVT.

You also get a six-speaker audio system, height adjustable passenger’s seat, automatic wipers, auto-folding door mirrors, front fog lights, auto headlights and automatic dual zone climate control.

N-Connecta is the sweet spot in the range as you get two-tone 18-inch alloys, seven-inch infotainment display, rear privacy glass, various safety systems including IEB and lane departure warning, carbon-effect dashboard trim and sports seats. Expect to pay from £23,805.

For the most expensive Tekna+ Qashqai, £29,250 gets you the 1.6 DIG-T 163 petrol with two-wheel drive and a six-speed manual in addition to an electrically adjustable driver’s seat, dark headlining, door mirrors with memory function and black nappa leather trim with 3D quilting.

What works?

The Qashqai is only slightly more expensive so it is competitively priced.

What doesn’t?

Higher specs are well-equipped but silly money considering the lack of prestige.

2017 Nissan Qashqai review: Should I buy one, then?

The old Nissan Qashqai was never the most exciting car to drive, but then it was capable of looking after an average family and looked half-decent. That’s still the case for the 2017 model, except now it looks less clumsy and the handling is more focussed ─ justification enough for a modest price increase.

But we are somewhat disappointed at the step-up in terms of the interior, comfort and refinement. It was never a loud or inviting cabin to begin with, but improvements to its competitors highlight the new Qashqai’s flaws, particularly when it comes to ride quality.

With that in mind, going for a low or mid-spec Qashqai is wise because £30,000 plus for a range-topping Tekna+ seems absurd when you can get a more premium offering for less money, or front up a little more for something from ze Germans for greater luxury and refinement.

This is especially true if you consider something other than a crossover because your money will go further. As nice as it is to have a loftier seating position, do you really need it? If the answer is no, a trusty estate or hatchback probably makes more sense. And will look less confused.

Specification

Engine1.6 dCi 130 diesel
Power128.2bhp (130PS) at 4,000rpm
Torque236ft/lb (320Nm) from 1,750rpm
Acceleration0-62mph in 10.5 seconds
Emissions116g/km of CO2
Economy64.2mpg (combined)
PriceFrom £19,295 (£32,025 tested)

Comments