- 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 £24,675 Miles 2259 Official economy 50.4mpg Test economy N/A Options fitted Heat Pack (£295)
9 November 2017 – the Nissan Qashqai joins our fleet
If you’re suddenly overcome with a case of déjà vu, it’s probably because this isn’t the first time we’ve run a second-generation Qashqai as a long-termer; back in February 2014, we took delivery of one just after we’d named it our Car of the Year.
So why have we got another one? The eagle-eyed among you may have noticed the bolder snout and snazzy new alloy wheels that mark this model out as the freshly facelifted Qashqai. As well as the external changes, there are plusher materials inside and a refreshed 7.0in infotainment system.
Although Nissan has introduced a luxurious Tekna+ trim with lashings of soft nappa leather, heated electric seats and a panoramic roof, I’ve decided to be sensible. That means taking our own advice and opting for a mid-spec N-Connecta example.
It may not be particularly sumptuous inside, but it has all the stuff you actually need, along with a few little luxuries. That includes dual-zone climate control, keyless entry and start, alloy wheels, front and rear parking sensors and a surround-view camera that gives a virtual bird's-eye view of your pride and joy.
N-Connecta is also the first trim to get a 7.0in touchscreen infotainment system. While lesser models still get a DAB radio, Bluetooth and a USB port, the touchscreen makes changing music or making a call so much easier – just what you need to order a pizza on your way home from work.
In fact, this Qashqai is so well equipped that I’ve barely plundered the options list. The only two extras are metallic paint (£575) and the Heat Pack (£295), which adds a heated windscreen and heated front seats – perfect for these cold winter mornings.
While we liked the 1.5-litre diesel engine in our old long-term Qashqai, I decided against running that motor again. For a start, it seemed a little silly to try an engine that we know so well already. Secondly, diesels are rapidly declining in popularity due to concerns regarding their environmental impact and how they’ll be taxed in the future.
I’ve therefore gone for the cheapest petrol engine available: a dinky 1.2-litre four-cylinder that’s paired to a six-speed manual gearbox. That may seem way too small for an SUV, but a turbocharger means it actually has 5bhp more than the diesel in our previous long-termer. Plus, as we've found in the Peugeot 3008, 1.2-litre petrols can turn out to be fine choices for a primarily uban SUV.
It’s also significantly cheaper to purchase and will cost a private buyer exactly the same in road tax every year. Hopefully, this should go some way to offset what will almost certainly be a greater thirst for fuel. At the end of the day, you can buy an awful lot of unleaded with the four-figure sum you’ll save.
So, what do I think of it so far? Well, the engine is no powerhouse, but it’s willing enough to deal with the cut and thrust of motorway traffic and I have yet to stick any fuel in it. That said, I have yet to load it up with people or the large chunks of B&Q stock that I seem to be purchasing every weekend.
What I can say for sure is that the Qashqai is a relaxed cruiser. Once up to speed, its engine is barely audible and the ride is more comfortable than our current favourite small SUV, the Seat Ateca.
The downside of the Qashqai’s softer suspension is that it isn't as agile as the Ateca, rolling more in corners and not as keen to change direction. Considering I commute more than 100 miles every day, I’ll soon know whether I prefer cornering to comfort.
Although I’m not one to fill cars with clutter, I have been impressed with the amount of storage space inside the Qashqai. The door bins are a reasonable size, but it’s the area between the seats that impresses most. The cupholders are big enough for even the largest of coffees, there’s a small cubbyhole that’s the perfect size for car keys and the area under the armrest is so big that I could fit my head in it. As for the boot, it’s not the biggest in the class, but the split floor has proved very useful for separating breakable camera gear from heavy luggage.
All considered, I’m pretty happy so far. It may not be the most exciting thing in the car park, but it’s certainly one of the most usable. As long as fuel economy isn’t too ruinous, I suspect the Qashqai and I will be spending an awful lot of time together over the coming months.