Nissan Qashqai long-term test: report 1

The Nissan Qashqai is one of the best selling family SUVs, but is its popularity deserved? We're living with one to find out...

Nissan Qashqai 2022 long-term outdoor activity

The car Nissan Qashqai N-Connecta DIG-T MH 158 XTronic Run by John Bradshaw, chief photographer

Why it’s here To see if one of Britain's most popular family SUVs can cut it as an all-weather, all-purpose workhorse 

Needs to Carry heavy, bulky equipment all over the country while being comfy, safe and economical

Mileage 1252 List price £30,625 Target Price £29,933 Price as tested £33,050.00 Test economy 39.9mpg Official economy 44.3mpg Options fitted Tech Pack (£1030), Magnetic Blue Special metallic paint (£745), Glassroof and roof rails (£650)

10 February 2022 – Qash for questions

Winding the clock back a bit, a Vauxhall Chevette (the company's 1970s offering in the family car class) was my family’s workhorse for the school run, shopping trips and holiday excursions. These days, households are more likely to depend on a family SUV. In fact, judging by how many I see on the road, it’ll probably be a Nissan Qashqai.

And that got me thinking. The kind of car that ticks a family’s boxes – practicality, reliability, comfort, affordability – ought to suit my requirements pretty well, too. And with the Qashqai being such a popular choice, well, that many families can’t be wrong. Or can they?

Nissan Qashqai 2022 long-term Brands Hatch

I chose What Car?’s favourite Qashqai trim level, N-Connecta, which is rather well equipped, and a far cry from the incredibly basic Chevette of my youth. Every Qashqai gives you things like bright, automatic LED headlights and rear parking sensors, and all but the base Visia trim level comes with dual-zone climate control (in place of manual air conditioning), a rear view camera and Apple CarPlay and Android Auto smartphone connectivity, so I can use my smartphone’s apps via the car’s touchscreen. 

My N-Connecta boosts that screen from 8.0in to 9.0in and also adds front parking sensors, while upgrading the rear-view camera to a clever around-view system. This enables me to  manoeuvre at low speeds with the help of a birds eye view, which is a bit like you might remember from playing the early Grand Theft Auto video games. There’s also a set of smart but not over-the-top 18in alloy wheels, and privacy glass for the rear doors and aft; I’m a fan of this, because it helps to shield my photo gear from prying eyes on those occasions when it overflows from the boot onto the rear seats.

Nissan Qashqai 2022 long-term head-up display

It’s a long list of kit, but I’ve plucked a few choice morsels from the options list, too. The £1035 Tech Pack brings ProPilot driver assistance, helping me to stay in lane and automatically retaining a set distance from the car in front, taking some of the load off on long journeys. This system, incidentally, helped the Qashqai to secure the 2022 What Car? Car of the Year award for Safety, plus it brings a heads up display that presents key driving information (things like speed and navigation arrows) directly in my line of sight, helping me to keep my eyes on the road. Should be standard on all cars, if you ask me. 

I also added a panoramic glass roof (£650), which floods the interior with light for an airier travelling environment, and also brings handy roof rails for carrying loads up top. They look good, too, as does the deep Magnetic Blue metallic paint (£745). 

Nissan Qashqai 2022 long-term panoramic roof

After the unremitting exhilaration served up by my previous Ford Puma ST, I wanted something a bit more laid back for my next car, so I plumped for an automatic gearbox in the Qashqai. This is only offered with the more powerful of the range’s two 1.3-litre petrol engines – the 155bhp DIG-T 158. It promises a 9.2sec 0-62mph time, which should be nippy enough for me. You can get this combo with four-wheel drive, but I figured that front-wheel drive would suit me just fine.

So far, the longest trip I’ve made has been an hour’s drive to Brands Hatch, but I’ve already found a couple of things about the Qashqai that I enjoy. I like that there’s a physical button for the keyless locking; having something to press before you walk away from the car saves any doubt as to whether it’s locked or not. I find it better than those touch-sensitive pads that have to be fingered in a very specific way before they respond. I also love that there are proper physical knobs for the air conditioning. That means no fumbling with on-screen menus to change the temperature.

Nissan Qashqai 2021 Long-Term climate control

I like how the interior is finished, too. Even if the materials used aren’t all from the very top drawer, my eye is caught by the stitching in the faux leather that tops the dashboard, and the metallic highlights serve up a nice contrast from the black and grey elsewhere.

Only one thing has marred the Qashqai experience so far. When crawling along on urban roads with my foot applying the lightest of pressure to the brake pedal, the car occasionally makes its own mind up and abruptly brings me to a halt when I don’t want to. I suspect it to be to do with the stop/start system; it’s only happened a few times, it could be a glitch that disappears, or it could even just be that I need to adopt a different pedal management approach. I’ll keep my eye on it to find out which it is. But hey, family life isn't always harmonious from the start. 

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