Nissan Qashqai long-term review

The Nissan Qashqai won our prestigious Car of the Year Award in 2014\. We've been running one for a year to find out how it stands up to daily life...

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Mark Pearson
21 January 2015

Nissan Qashqai long-term review

The Nissan Qashqai was named the What Car? Car of the Year in January 2014. We took delivery of our long-termer soon after, wanting to see how it would stand up to the varied tasks we throw at our cars, and to see if it could justify its top billing after a year in our hands.

The car Nissan Qashqai 1.5 dCi 110 Acenta Premium
Run by Mark Pearson, Data editor
Needs to Make light work of my four-mile urban commute and the school run; dispatch long motorway trips; become the default office choice for British and European holidays; handle weekly shopping trips and journeys to the tip; tackle the slings and arrows of family life; see off the ever-increasing competition
Run by What Car? since February 2014

My rating 

What’s it like?

We liked the original Qashqai, the car that took on the hatchback and spawned a whole new generation of compact SUVs. This replacement had to be better than the old car, and better than the rivals launched in its wake.

Being careful not to mess with a successful formula, while investing a lot of time and money and thought into making it better, Nissan played it safe with the styling, and made the new car almost exactly the same size as the old one. When we first tried it we knew the  got it right again; it was more spacious inside, more economical, nicer to be in and much better to drive.

Specification

There are four engines to choose from: two petrol engines (a 113bhp 1.2-litre and a 161bhp 1.6-litre unit) and two diesels (a 109bhp 1.5-litre and a 128bhp 1.6-litre).

The two petrol engines are smooth, but can’t offer the economy of the diesel-engined cars. Both the diesels are adequate performers, but we prefer the smoother delivery and better economy of the 1.5-litre, and this was the engine we chose for our long-termer.

Our original award-winning car was in Acenta trim, but we were tempted by the next step up, Acenta Premium. Standard kit included 17-inch alloy wheels, Bluetooth and a panoramic glass roof. As well as that we got the new Nissan Connect infotainment package, which includes sat-nav, DAB radio and a 7in colour screen, and a Smart Vision Pack (a £450 option on lesser models), that includes front and rear parking sensors, a rear-view camera, and lane departure warning and front collision avoidance systems.

Options and pricing

With so much standard kit, there wasn’t much left to add, although our sparkling Storm White paint was a £725 option. This boosted the final bill to £23,415 which, considering the generous equipment levels, seemed pretty reasonable.

However, since we took delivery of our car, Nissan has replaced the Acenta Premium trim with N-tec. This adds 18-inch alloys, folding door mirrors and an Around View Monitor, a parking aid that gives the driver a bird's-eye view of the car. This means you do now have to step up to N-tec+ trim, which costs £550 more, to get the panoramic glass sunroof.

The current list price of the 1.5 dCi n-tec is £23,450, but our Target Price shoppers have found dealers offering it for around £21,500.

Daily driving

We’ve already covered 12,000 trouble-free miles in our car, and so far we’re impressed.

Indeed our Qashqai has proved so popular that if I leave the keys on my desk for more than a minute, they’ll disappear, a sure sign of a good car here at What Car? HQ. It has swiftly become the holiday vehicle of choice, which is not surprising given its ability to swallow people, luggage, camping gear and bicycles (sometimes all at the same time) with ease. It’s been to Scotland, Wales, France, the Isle of Wight, Cumbria, Cornwall and Coventry, and all who’ve borrowed it have returned singing its praises.

A lot of the favourable comments centre on the engine. Smooth is the keyword. The 1.5-litre dCi is remarkably refined, and, interestingly, it’s noticeably quieter than the more powerful 1.6-litre diesel option.

Performance is adequate rather than exciting. One of my colleagues mentioned that some sharp inclines in the Lake District left him stuck between a too-low first gear and a short-of-puff second, but on the whole the Qashqai is a reasonably flexible friend.

It is an extremely easy car to drive, too, with light steering, a smooth gearchange and well-weighted controls. There’s good grip, able handling and a comfortable ride – the latter is at its best on motorways, and is well damped around town, although occasionally a little fidgety over broken surfaces. Motorway refinement is excellent, with low levels of wind and road noise, and very little engine noise.

Visibility from the raised driving position is good, but thick front and rear pillars limit the view a little, especially when reversing – we make good use of our rear parking sensors and rear-view camera.

I like the new high-quality materials in the upmarket interior, too, with its soft touch, matt plastics and subtle backlighting. There are plenty of clever details, including deep cupholders and cubbyholes. The dashboard is clear and easy to read, and all the controls, including the audio, Bluetooth and sat-nav programming on the infotainment system, are intuitive.

We’re pleased to have that panoramic glass sunroof, which helps to brighten up what could otherwise be a rather sombre interior, plus all that impressive safety kit, which can alert you if you’re crossing central white lines or approaching the car in front too quickly, as well as applying the brakes at low speeds. These audible alerts can also be turned down or off.

Practicality

Space inside the Qashqai is good, with more head and leg room than the old model, and the seats are firmer and more supportive. My only gripe would be that I have to push the seat all the way back, which doesn’t leave a lot of leg room behind me for taller children or adults.

There’s reasonable adjustment in the steering column, although I could have done with a bit more adjustment for reach. The seat backrest angle is adjusted by a rachet rather than the more precise rotary dial, and alas my ideal angle turns out to be somewhere between two of the options it offers, which means I have to sit more upright than I’d like.

Star of the show is the Qashqai’s boot. Not only is it bigger and more versatile than before (capacity is 430 litres, up 20 litres on the old car) and easier to access, thanks to a higher-lifting tailgate, it contains a false floor that can conceal valuables or store the rear parcel shelf. This allows you to fold the rear seats and open up the 1585 litres of boot space - that's enough to swallow flatpack furniture or take bulky loads to the tip. Those fold-up panels also double as a useful floor divider which, once in place, stop shopping from taking a tumble every time you go round a corner or brake. For me this is the single most useful feature this meritorious and thoughtfully designed car offers, because it’s the one I miss most when I don’t find it in other cars.

NIssan Qashqai economy

If there was one area we could single out for disappointment so far it's fuel economy. Overall we are averaging 46.5mpg, which is some way off our TrueMPG figure of 54.7mpg, and even further off the official figure of 74.3mpg.

Our car's refined 1.5-litre engine can feel short of puff occasionally, so maybe we push it hard to keep up with the flow, or maybe my short regular commute of just four miles is dragging our overall figure down. We have hit peaks of 55mpg on longer runs, and occasionally we’ve seen 60mpg on the digital dash readout, although these devices are notoriously optimistic. On the whole we think our higher figures would be possible to maintain, given a bit of concentration and a reasonable journey without heavy traffic.

Nissan Qashqai problems

So far our Qashqai hasn’t let us down, and everything feels as good as it did when we picked it up.

On one occasion the tyre pressure monitoring system flashed up a warning on the instrument display, but examination of the tyres revealed only one to be slightly down, and then only by 3psi. There is a slight rattle now from the exhaust under heavy load conditions, which is something we will have attended to at its first service, and tyre wear seems to be moderate, despite some hard use.

Other than that we have only subjective criticisms, and minor niggles. Some would argue that any crossover, even a good one like the Qashqai, can’t match the driving dynamics of a regular Golf-class hatchback; others wondered whether this second-generation car’s looks had lost some of the sparkle of the original – look for it in a car park and you could confuse it for a number of similar models.

As a left-hander I find the tailgate awkward to pull down, and some passengers think the rear bench is too hard and upright, while one passenger thought the interior and trim felt a little cheap. Our car also takes a long time to fire up from cold after pressing the starter button, like most diesel-engined cars, and will only start if you’ve pressed the clutch pedal all the way to the floor.

Do we still love it?

Yes we do. It’s proved to be a quiet, refined and immensely practical family car, and on a long journey a capable and unobtrusive companion. It’s impressed us with its comfort, space and economy – yes, we would still recommend it, and on the evidence of our time with this car we were definitely right to give it the top honour last year.

Nissan Qashqai statistics

Price £23,450 (N-tec trim)
Target Price £21,425
Mileage to date 13,005

Fuel economy 74.3mpg
True MPG 54.7mpg
Emissions/company car tax 99g/km/ 15%
0-62mph 12.4 seconds
Top speed 112mph
Power 109bhp
Insurance group 15
Typical quote £501