The Nissan Qashqai is one of our favourite small SUVs. It's a former What Car? Car of the Year, and despite competition from the likes of the Seat Ateca, VW Tiguan and Honda CR-V, the Qashqai remains one of the best choices in this class.
If your budget can't stretch to the £18,545 needed for a new Qashqai the good news is that you can pick up a first-generation car for a lot less.
Launched in 2007 and lasting until 2013, the original Qashqai is the car that kick-started the craze for small SUVs in the UK. Larger than conventional hatchbacks, and offering the raised driving postion, interior practicality and big boot that have become synonymous with this class, the Qashqai proved that you didn't need to have a full-blown SUV to take advantage of the 4x4 driving experience.
Unsurprisingly, this first-generation Qashqai scored a full five stars on our road test.
What budget do I need?
As little as £2500 can get you a Qashqai from this era - albeit an early example with well over 150,000 miles on the clock. At the other end of the market, the last diesel examples with lots of equipment will cost around £14,000.
If you're looking for a model from 2012 with our preferred 1.5-litre diesel engine and with around 40,000 miles, expect to pay about £10,000 if you buy from a dealer, or about £9000 buying privately.
If you opt for a diesel model, you should expect to see close to the claimed 52.3mpg without too much trouble, while the petrol has to be revved harder to perform - officially, it manages 41.1mpg, but in reality we'd expect that to be lower.
When it comes to servicing costs, the Qashqai will cost you more than family hatchbacks like the Ford Focus or VW Golf, but insurance premiums are competitive and diesel Qashqais hold their value very well. Make sure your annual mileage is high enough to justify choosing a diesel, though.
Which version should I go for?
The Qashqai received a comprehensive facelift in 2010, so if your budget allows we'd recommend buying a car from this era. The facelift also added a new Puredrive 1.5-litre diesel model, which has the lowest CO2 emissions in the range - it also returns an impressive 57.6mpg, making it our pick of the line-up.
If you're going to be doing low mileage, then consider the 1.6-litre petrol engine. It's less impressive than the diesel, but is fine around town. If you want four-wheel drive or an automatic gearbox, then you'll have to go for a 2.0-litre petrol or diesel motor, or the 1.6-litre diesel. Most Qashqais you'll find in the classifieds will be front-wheel drive.
Buyers can choose from Visia, Acenta and Tekna trim levels, and it's the tech-laden Tekna cars we'd recommend.
Any problems to be aware of?
The Qashqai has a generally good record for reliability - that said, there are a few things to watch out for. First, be wary of diesel Qashqais with low mileage - if the car has only been used for short journeys, this could mean that the car's diesel particulate filter is close to being blocked, and it's an expensive item to replace.
If you've gone for the 1.5-litre diesel engine, watch out for sticking valves if the car is used mainly on low-speed journeys. This can lead to the turbocharger failing and a lack of lubrication in the engine - so listen out for uneven idling or stuttering when accelerating. As always, check the oil level, too, and have a close look at the car's service history.
Make sure the service history documents timing belt changes, too, because the 1.5 Qashqai's timing belt needs to be changed at least every four years or 60,000 miles - if it fails, it can completely wreck the engine.
On your test drive, listen out for rattles from the rear suspension, which can indicate issues with the dampers. This is a known problem, especially on early, pre-facelift versions of the Qashqai.
Owners have also reported problems with the clutch, accompanied by smoke and a strong burning smell. It can be fixed by dealers, but it can take more than one trip to diagnose. Other complaints include poorly fitting door trim, squeaks and rattles from the interior, and leaking from the windscreen.
Overall, the Qashqai is better than the class average when it comes to consumable items like brake pads, wiper blades and brake fluid.
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