The Qashqai is very good at putting people at ease, but why?
Climbing aboard is easy enough, and finding the right driving position. The seats are comfortable, the steering wheel is adjustable, and the pedals, gearlever and controls are all where you’d want them to be. As well as this, the instrument panel is clear, and the view out is good.
Start it up and you’ll notice how quiet the engine is, and the lightness of the clutch and the gearchange. Further on you’ll notice the impressive ride quality, and the performance and the unexpected refinement.
However, it’s the quality of the steering that stays with you throughout your journey, as it’s constantly in use at whatever speed you choose to go.
The Qashqai’s electrically assisted steering is good. It’s light, for a start, and reasonably quick to respond. It’s fairly direct, too, with 3.2 turns lock to lock, and comes without any quirks in its weighting. There isn’t much of what an enthusiast would call feedback, but that won’t be something to trouble the majority of Qashqai owners. In fact, there’s the option of adding extra weight to the steering via a horribly misnamed Sport setting (the default setting is Normal), although quite why you’d want to do that is beyond me.
This all helps to explain why the Qashqai is so relaxing to drive, whether it’s your first time in the car or your 100th time. It’s easy to use, easy to drive, and easy to like.
By Mark Pearson
Week ending July 16
Miles driven this week 47
The all-new Qashqai, which won the coveted award of What Car? Car of The Year 2014 had a lot to live up to, especially considering its price was £4400 more than the Suzuki. Granted, it comes lavishly equipped, including a panoramic sunroof, satellite-navigation, parking assist and loads more.
Although not dissimilar in looks, it definitely had a more solid feel to it once I was inside. The doors were heavier and the interior felt more finished and comfortable. The extra weight had a downside though, because I struggled to open the boot with one hand, which is something I often have to do while juggling copious bags or the odd scooter.
It was also a bigger beast - great for all the extra room between my two boys in the back (and, I suspect, for a third in the middle should you need it), but trickier when parking.
I hate to categorise, but I would have to say the Qashqai is much more masculine than the SX-Cross. Given the choice, and bearing in mind the costs, I think I'd go for the girlier option.
Week ending July 8
Miles driven this week 185
Picture the scene. My wife and I were heading home late one night in the Qashqai, down a relatively quiet A3, from an event in central London. Suddenly, at about 50mph, the tyre pressure warning light on the dash came on, indicating a problem with the front driver’s side tyre.
Alas just what the problem was, or how big it was, it didn’t specifically say, and driving along I couldn’t see that I had the option to press the small 'settings' button on the steering wheel, which then displays a further very useful screen that highlights all four tyres and their respective pressures.
Pulling in to a handily placed 24-hour service station, I hastily checked the pressure, expecting to find a flat or rapidly deflating tyre. I was somewhat surprised therefore to find the reading was a respectable 2.1 bar, or roughly 30psi, only 0.2 bar or 3psi off its recommended setting.
Pumping it up to 2.3 bar/33psi solved the problem (although the warning light did inexplicably stay on for a short while afterwards). The handbook recommends 33psi front, and 30psi rear, but a little experimentation has shown me the Qashqai steers and handles slightly better at 35psi front and 32psi rear, with no noticeable degradation in ride quality or economy.
So our first warning light incident has passed without drama – so far the tyre has retained its pressure.
By Mark Pearson
Week ending July 1
Miles driven this week 200
Whenever I’m asked what our Qashqai is like, I always reply in one word: competent.
It might not sound like an exciting word, but it’s not a word to be dismissed lightly. The majority of the cars we get to drive at What Car? might impress us in one or two areas, some in their economy maybe, some in their dynamics, but it’s rare for a car to display competence in nearly all the areas that matter – the Qashqai does.
Over the last few months we’ve taken for granted the build quality and the mechanical and electrical dependability. We’ve made good use of its practical interior, so able has it been at carrying passengers in reasonable comfort and adapting to varying luggage demands. Its frugality has been borne out for us by 40mpg figures around town, and over 50mpg on longer runs. Its refinement and isolation from the road in the good-quality and well-equipped cabin is close to astonishing.
It’s proved so far to be a capable car on minor roads, major roads, difficult roads and carefree roads, and in a variety of different hands. Would I recommend it? Without hesitation. It has a breadth of ability that has earned the respect of all who’ve driven it. Yes, competent just about covers it.
By Mark Pearson