Nissan Qashqai 1.6 dCi review

  • New diesel engine for Nissan Qashqai
  • Price from £19,495
  • On sale now (Jan 2012 for 119g/km version)
What is it? It’s a new diesel version of the Nissan Qashqai, the car that started the crossover craze.

Nissan already offers two diesels – a 104bhp 1.5-litre and a 148bhp 2.0 – and this new 128bhp 1.6 dCi sits neatly beat the two on power and price. Crucially, though, it’s more efficient than both, and two-wheel-drive versions built between now and the new year will emit 129g/km of CO2 and average 57.6mpg.

From January, things get even better, because a stop-start system will be fitted as standard, dropping emissions to just 119g/km and making the Qashqai a far more attractive company car in the process.

What’s it like to drive? The new engine has less power than the range-topping 2.0-litre dCi, but it produces exactly the same amount of torque, so it pulls just as strongly through the mid-range.

Let the revs drop too low and the engine starts to feel flat very quickly, but once it's spinning above 1800rpm there’s a smooth stream of power all the way to the redline.

Refinement is generally impressive, too. The engine ticks over at an irritating frequency, which causes the cabin to resonate, but once you’re moving it remains hushed throughout the rev range. A Volkswagen Golf 2.0 TDI is quieter still, though.

In other respects nothing has changed, which means the Qashqai is set-up for comfort rather than driving thrills.

It soaks up bumps well, but the downside of its soft suspension – and of the lofty stance – is that there's plenty of body lean through bends. Still, the Qashqai rarely feels untidy because the lean is progressive and the steering direct.

What’s it like inside? The biggest change inside is the addition of a new Around View Monitor. The system – standard on N-Tec+ and Tekna models – uses four cameras to give you a 360° birds’-eye view of the car. It makes parking in a tight spot so much easier than using parking sensors alone, because you can physically see how close you are to various obstacles; not only in front and behind you, but also along the sides of the car.

The cabin is otherwise unchanged, which means there's an excellent driving position. You sit high up, so have a commanding view of the road ahead, while two-way steering wheel adjustment and a driver's seat that can be cranked up and down make it easy to get comfortable.

The interior plastics aren’t class-leading, but everything feels like it should stand up well to the rigours of family life.

Should I buy one? If you’re a company car driver, the new 1.6 dCi is without doubt the best Qashqai for you. Just make sure you wait for the version with stop-start because its sub-120g/km CO2 emissions will bring huge savings in company car tax.

The majority of private buyers, by contrast, will be better off with the 1.6 petrol version. It provides adequate performance for most chores, good refinement and is up to £3000 cheaper to buy. Unless you plan to do more than around 17,000 miles per year, a diesel just won’t make financial sense.

Before you buy any Qashqai, though, make sure you’ve properly considered more traditional takes on the small family hatchback, such as the Ford Focus and VW Golf. They might not have the Qashqai's chunky SUV styling, but they're sharper to drive and just as spacious.

Read the Nissan Qashqai review for parents at Mumsnet Cars

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