- The car Nissan Qashqai 1.2 N-Connecta
- Run by What Car? reviews team
- Why it’s here To find out if the Qashqai's facelift has improved its everyday driving experience
- Needs to Prove that a small petrol engine can be just as affordable as a diesel
Price £24,380 Price as tested £25,250 Miles 3549 Official economy 50.4mpg Test economy 35.5mpg Options fitted Heat Pack (£295), metallic paint (£575)
28 December 2017 – Fundamentally honest
Back in 2014, to celebrate the launch of the second-generation Nissan Qashqai, I took part in a 5000-mile drive to Istanbul and back for an article published by our sister publication, Autocar.
What struck me most about Nissan’s SUV as we toured through 21 countries over 13 days was how it placed ease of use and comfort right at the top of its list of priorities. Whether we were negotiating the potholed roads of Romanian villages or the chaotic streets of downtown Istanbul, the Qashqai never felt compromised.
When the chance arose to drive our long-term test car (around the slightly less exotic roads of Hampshire and Surrey), I was interested to discover whether Nissan’s recent facelift of the Qashqai had fundamentally changed the character of the car I had grown to know very well.
The answer, in short, is no. The changes are relatively subtle ones, and that’s no bad thing: everything feels reassuringly familiar, from the elevated driving position to the way all the main controls are exactly where you’d expect them to be.
There are little details that the Qashqai just gets right: big wing mirrors, for example. It might seem like a trivial detail, but it is one that not all manufacturers get right, and they’re incredibly useful when it comes to manoeuvring on busy streets. We’ve already raved about the Qashqai’s surround-view camera, but even without it, this SUV would be a cinch to park.
I also like the cavernous storage bin between the front seats, the lid of which can double as a rest for the driver’s left elbow. As someone who occasionally travels with a demanding two-year-old in the back, the deep space is a godsend for mood-placating snacks, toys and packs of wipes.
The recent facelift introduced some plusher materials to the Qashqai’s interior, although you’d need a very keen eye to pick them out without comparing old and new cars side by side. Our car might be fairly modestly specced in the middling N-Connecta trim, but I certainly didn’t feel shortchanged when putting it to daily use as a commuting vehicle.
Our car is fitted with the 7.0in touchscreen infotainment system that was revamped as part of the overhaul. It does the job of navigation adequately enough, but in my opinion it isn’t as clear to read or as intuitive to use as the system used in Volkswagen Group cars.
The Qashqai we’re running now has a 1.2-litre petrol engine under the bonnet, whereas the car I used on my drive to Turkey was a 2.0-litre diesel. As you might expect, there’s a difference in performance, and this is particularly noticeable on the motorway.
Back in 2014, we took full advantage of the unrestricted autobahn in Germany to really stretch the Qashqai’s legs. Having driven our long-term test car up and down UK motorways, I’m not convinced such an exercise would be as productive in this car. There’s less mid-range power and you really notice it on the motorway, where you need to shuffle up and down the gears more frequently to overtake.
Having said that, once you’re up to speed, it certainly feels lively enough, and if you don’t do many motorway miles, this 1.2 could be all you need for urban driving and A-roads.
Some rivals that have gone on sale recently may trump the Qashqai when it comes to the glitziest kit and trendiest interior appointments, but there’s something fundamentally honest and correct about Nissan’s SUV. It’s one of those cars that you feel at home in almost immediately, and I suspect that’s why so many car shoppers have been won over by it on the strength of a short test drive from a dealership.
If one of my colleagues suggested we reprise our two-week cross-continent odyssey in our 2017 Qashqai, I wouldn’t have to think twice.
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