The Nissan Qashqai is the car that made small SUVs popular when it was first launched in 2007. The popularity of this segment has grown since with almost every manufacturer now offering small SUV models, and the Qashqai continues to be one of the best-selling new cars each year in Ireland. Competition is hotter than ever with cars like the new Hyundai Tucson and Volkswagen Tiguan growing in popularity. Does the Qashqai have what it takes to reign supreme in the small SUV segment for 2017?
What is it like?
The second generation Nissan Qashqai is longer and wider than the old model but its styling hasn’t changed significantly, which is good thing. We drove the new high specification SV Premium model which benefits from large 18-inch alloy wheels on the outside for a sportier look. There are 10 different colours to choose from but we think this Pearl White is the best of the lot and goes well with the contrasting black plastic trim.
The latest Qashqai boasts a higher quality interior than the model it replaces, with soft touch plastics and plenty of head and leg room for front seat passengers. This example, being the high specification SV Premium model, has nice features such as black leather upholstery throughout the cabin, heated seats, front and rear parking sensors and Nissan’s Connect system with a seven-inch touch screen display centre stage.
It’s easy to see why the Qashqai is so popular with family buyers as there is plenty of storage space dotted throughout the cabin, space in the rear seats is plentiful and the boot is large at 430 litres, but smaller than other cars in the class. The Qashqai falls slightly short of cars like the Volkswagen Tiguan and SEAT Ateca when it comes to overall interior quality, but many buyers will overlook this in favour of its competitive price point.
Nissan offers the Qashqai with three engine choices, a 1.2-litre petrol engine and larger 1.5-litre and 1.6-litre diesels. We drove what is the best seller here in Ireland, the 110bhp 1.5-litre Diesel matched to a smooth six-speed manual gearbox. Refinement has been improved meaning it's quieter than before, and acceleration is responsive at low speeds. The larger 1.6-litre diesel offers increased power (130bhp) and performance along with optional four-wheel drive, though the two-wheel drive 1.5-litre diesel should suffice for most Irish buyers.
We were impressed with the Qashqai’s economical nature, as we managed around five litres per 100 kilometres (56MPG) for the duration of our test, while annual motor tax on the 1.5-litre diesel comes in at €190 for the year. Performance is reasonable with 0-100km/h taking under 12 seconds, but if you spend more time on the motorway, we'd consider the more powerful 1.6-litre diesel version instead. The new Qashqai is composed out on the road with low road noise and it handles well too, if not quite as precisely as the new Hyundai Tucson.
Entry prices for the base XE specification petrol start from €25,260 which puts it in the same bracket as the new Renault Kadjar SUV. The Qashqai is well kitted out as standard with cruise control, a speed limiter, hill start assist, a tyre pressure monitoring system and heated door mirrors featured on all models. Our SV Premium specification test car is the range-topping version and gets full leather upholstery, 18-inch alloy wheels, satellite navigation and Nissan Connect with iKey for a more premium feel. If you can stretch to this specification we’d recommend it as it looks and feels sportier.
Carzone verdict: 4/5
The Nissan Qashqai blends the best of the hatchback and SUV worlds and makes for a great everyday family car as a result. We’re impressed with just how economical and refined the new model is, with low levels of noise, great equipment from base specification and charming exterior styling its key strengths. That said, it doesn’t handle as sharply as the Volkswagen Tiguan, and despite its SUV looks it is not a true off roader. Taking its competitive pricing into account, most buyers will be pleased with the Qashqai’s all-round potential and it will continue to be a best seller here in Ireland for 2017.