2014 Nissan Qashqai N-tec review
Our 2014 Car of the Year gets a new trim level, so with more equipment including nav, the Qashqai N-tec could become the new best buy in the range. We drive it in the UK...
We already know the Nissan Qashqai is a brilliant SUV, because we named it 2014 Car of the Year. Now the trim levels have changed, with the addition of N-tec and N-tec+ to the range, which replace Acenta Premium.
The other trims levels remain, including Acenta, which we rated as the best buy until now. It’s still tempting, given the starting price of £19,850 for the 1.2-litre petrol, and standard equipment that includes a USB port, Bluetooth, multifunction steering wheel, auto lights and wipers, and dual-zone climate control.
N-tec starts from £21,700 and adds to that list a colour touch-screen and sat-nav, DAB radio, keyless entry and start, lane-departure warning, a system that displays the speed limit zone you’re in, and automatic emergency braking. N-tec+ costs another £550, but adds a panoramic glass roof and rails.
Tekna still sits at the tops the range, but is too expensive to recommend, regardless of its luxury kit.
What’s the 2014 Nissan Qashqai N-tec like inside?
N-tec retains the same seats and manual adjustment as the vast majority of the range, which give a wide range of adjustment for the seat and steering wheel, well-positioned pedals and easy-to-read dials.
Things aren’t perfect, though, because the pillars are thick at both the front and the rear. You’re forced to peer around them at junctions, and reversing is tricky on versions (such as the Acenta) without parking sensors.
The N-tec solves this issue, because it includes a 360-degree reversing camera that gives you a birds-eye view of the car so you can see any potential hazards, so it's really easy to manoeuvre the car precisely into even the tightest of spaces.
The sense of quality of the cabin is as impressive as ever; there are lots of classy, soft-touch plastics and piano-black trim, though it’s a shame there isn’t more than just the one very dark cloth upholstery to choose for the seats – you can’t even pay extra to get a lighter-coloured finish.
The 7.0-inch colour touch-screen is the focal point in the dash, and further enhances the Qashqai's credentials as a smart, plush family car. It’s one of the better systems in the class, with logical menu layouts and clear graphics, though the screen can still be a bit slow to respond, and some icons are a bit small, making them tricky to hit accurately on the move.
Safety is also greatly enhanced in the N-tec, which gets Nissan’s ‘safety shield’ pack as standard – a £495 option on the Acenta. This includes lane-assist, which means that the car will warn you if you cross a white line without indicating, display the speed limit you're in on the driver's colour readout, and automatically brake if the car senses an imminent collision up to around 50mph.
Practicality is another strength of the latest Qashqai. There’s loads of leg- and headroom in the front and the back, while the boot is one of the biggest in the small SUV class, and false floor panels let you change the load height or divide up the boot space to separate fragile items.
What’s the 2014 Nissan Qashqai N-tec like to drive?
There are no mechanical changes to the Qashqai, so it remains one of the best family SUVs to drive. It controls its body movements well through corners, and its steering weights up reassuringly as you turn the wheel into a corner.
Don’t go thinking that this secure handling comes at the expense of ride comfort, either. While the ride can be a bit jittery on patched-up town roads, it smoothes out nicely on motorways and fast A-roads, and feels beautifully damped over speed bumps and larger imperfections.
The cheapest engine option is a turbocharged 1.2-litre petrol, which is now available with an automatic CVT gearbox, though we haven’t tested this just yet. In manual guise, this small petrol is best suited to urban driving, as you have to work it hard to keep up with traffic on faster roads, although it does stay impressively smooth and quiet when you do push on.
The 1.5 diesel is the best engine in the range, striking a happy balance between performance and everyday affordability. It pulls strongly as long as you keep the revs above about 1500rpm, is quieter than most rival diesel engines, and achieved a reasonable 54.7mpg in our real-world economy tests.
The pricier 1.6 diesel is only available in top-spec Tekna trim, which makes it far too expensive, and actually the 1.6 is less refined or repsonsive at low revs as the 1.5.
Otherwise, the Qashqai is brilliant at shutting out wind and road noise and is generally a very refined car.
Should I buy one?
Absolutely. The Qashqai remains the best small SUV around, so if you’re after something that’s safe, with a high driving position, spacious interior, and a laid-back, enjoyable drive, it should be right at top of your shortlist.
The 1.5 diesel remains our pick of the engines, but in terms of choice of trim, it really comes down to your own priorities. If you’re not bothered about having sat-nav and a colour screen, then it’s probably not worth the £1585 extra for N-tec - £23,450 is at the top end of what we'd pay for a Qashqai.
However, without this hi-tech kit the Qashqai feels a bit spartan inside, and the fact you can’t add any of these key infotainment extras separately (as you can with most rivals) seals the Acenta’s fate. It’s still great value, but the feature packed N-tec now becomes the the best version of our favourite family SUV.
What Car? says...
Nissan Qashqai 1.5dCi N-tec
Engine size 1.5-litre diesel
Price from £23,450
Torque 192lb ft
0-62mph 11.9 seconds
Top speed 113mph
Fuel economy 74.3mpg
Nissan Qashqai 1.2 DIG-T N-tec
Engine size 1.2-litre petrol
Price from £21,700
Torque 140lb ft
0-62mph 10.9 seconds
Top speed 115mph
Fuel economy 50.4mpg