This is the new Nissan Qashqai, which aims to build on the first generation's success by offering more space, greater refinement and practicality, and a wider range of safety kit.
The new model is 5cm longer than the car it replaces (as well as wider and a little lower), but the difference in size is hard to spot. Qashqai customers can continue to enjoy the car’s still-compact dimensions, Nissan claims, because it has resisted the common temptation simply to make its new version bigger.
In fact, the larger, seven-seat edition of the current model, the Qashqai+2, has been dropped altogether. Nissan hopes that buyers who need more seats will choose its latest X-Trail instead.
Jump into the front and rear seats of the new Qashqai and the first thing you notice is the amount of shoulder and headroom. The new car is a little wider and longer, and it seems that the extra space has all gone into improving the cabin. Even on our photography car, which had a full-length panoramic glass roof that didn’t do much for headroom, four six foot-plus adults could sit in comfort.
The dashboard is neat and functional, and made from a pleasing mix of materials, including chrome flashes and well-textured plastics (Nissan sources say the new car is around 30% cheaper to build tha the old car, and that this saving has been spent on improving interior quality).
All the bits you regularly need to access, such as the sat-nav, audio and heating controls, are easily reached in their high-set positions. All Qashqais get the centrally mounted five-inch colour screen.
The 430-litre boot is 20 litres bigger than the current car’s, and 50 litres up on a VW Golf’s. Some models will also get a moveable floor that can be flipped for wet loads, or slotted vertically across the boot to ‘fence off’ space and stop your shopping from rolling around.
The new Qashqai comes with just one petrol engine: a 1.2-litre turbocharged unit that produces 113bhp and 140lb ft of torque, and is available with front-wheel drive only. It averages 50.4mpg and emits 129g/km of CO2.
A 1.6-litre turbo petrol with 148bhp will follow next summer. There are two diesels. The cleaner of the two motors is the 1.5 dCi, which produces 109bhp, 192lb ft, and returns 74.3mpg and 99g/km. Again, though, its power is sent through just the front wheels.
The larger 1.6-litre diesel has 128bhp and 236lb ft. In front-wheel-drive form and with a manual gearbox, its official fuel figure is 64.2mpg and it emits 115g/km of CO2. It’s also available with a CVT automatic (again, in front-drive form); that brings emissions of 119g/km and fuel consumption of 61.4mpg. The four-wheel-drive Qashqai, which is a six-speed manual only, emits 129g/km and returns 57.6mpg.
All models get a six-speed manual gearbox as standard. The CVT option (offered on the diesel only) is a heavily revised unit – Nissan sources say they’ve engineered it to work in ‘steps’ to make it feel like a regular auto.
High-level sources say that the Qashqai's driving experience is focused on safety and roadholding. Nissan's product planning boss Andy Palmer told What Car?, "We aimed for a planted feel on the road, so you feel driving security. This is a family car so safety and comfort were our priorities. The benchmark was the latest Golf."
Specs and prices will be issued within the next few weeks, primarily because while deliveries of the new Qashqai won't start until February 2014, Nissan is aiming to open the order books well before the end of this year. Expect all models to have at least Bluetooth and manual air-conditioning as standard, while top-spec editions should get the latest version of Nissan's Safety Shield, which incorporates features like all-round cameras and blind spot monitoring.