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Used test: Nissan Qashqai vs Seat Ateca vs Skoda Karoq interiors

These family SUVs all sell in big numbers, so there are plenty of excellent used examples to choose from. But should you go for a Qashqai, an Ateca of a Karoq?...

Nissan Qashqai 2021 dashboard


Driving position, visibility, build quality, practicality

All three have decent driving positions, with lumbar, seat height and steering wheel height and reach adjustment included across the board. An electrically adjustable driver’s seat is standard in the Nissan Qashqai in Tekna trim; the other two are manually adjustable.

Looking to split them, we’d say the Qashqai has the best relationship between its seat, pedals and steering wheel, making it the easiest to get comfortable in. This SportLine Skoda Karoq has the best seat (it has the most side support), but all the cars are comfortable even over long distances.

Seat Ateca 2022 interior dashboard

The Qashqai and Seat Ateca come with digital instrument panels that are easy to read, and you can change the way they look or display a large sat-nav map front and centre. Digital instruments were a £480 option from new in the Karoq, but its conventional analogue dials are perfectly clear and you still get a small digital screen between them.

Our contenders all come with sensible dashboard designs. What do we mean by that, exactly? Well, the controls are simple to operate, with proper physical buttons for functions such as adjusting the interior temperature. They eschew the touch-sensitive controls that seem to be all the rage now but prove unnecessarily distracting.

Across the board, you get a good view of the road ahead, although the Ateca and Karoq have marginally slimmer windscreen pillars than the Qashqai. That’s splitting hairs, to be fair, but there’s none of that when it comes to looking rearwards: the Karoq offers you easily the best view of what’s behind. The Ateca is next best, with the Qashqai demanding more guesswork when reversing, due to its small rear side windows.

Skoda Karoq 2021 dashboard

Then again, to help offset this nod to style over function, the Qashqai is fitted with a useful 360-degree parking camera (as is the Ateca). The Karoq makes do with a straightforward rear-view camera, while all three have front and rear parking sensors included. The Qashqai also has adaptive LED headlights that allow you to leave them on high beam without dazzling other drivers. The Ateca and Karoq have normal LED headlights, which are still nice and bright on dipped or main beam.

All three cars come with sat-nav, smartphone mirroring and wireless phone charging. The Qashqai also gets a 9.0in touchscreen and the menus aren’t too complicated; it helps that they're complemented by physical buttons and knobs. The Ateca has the biggest screen (9.2in), and while it’s not the sharpest, it’s clear enough. The Karoq's screen may be the smallest (8.0in) here, but it’s crystal clear. The simple shortcuts down either side of the screen are easy to understand; it’s just a shame they’re touch-sensitive rather than physical buttons, which would be easier to find while driving. Still, this is the best system of the three in terms of both responsiveness and ease of use. 

One of the biggest differences with the latest Qashqai, compared with its predecessors, is the step on in terms of interior quality. The materials are generally high grade and plush to the touch, and everything feels solidly made. Is that enough to beat the Karoq? No, but it’s enough to match it. The latter is also very well built, with plenty of natty chrome and glossy elements to give it a fancy feel.

Nissan Qashqai 2021 boot

The Ateca looks and feels the least inspiring, with a greater prevalence of harder plastics on the parts you touch, such as the interior door handles, and spray-painted matt trims that impart an impression of tightfistedness.

As long as you’re not exceptionally tall, you’ll have no issues with space in the front of any of our contenders. There’s plenty of storage space in each, too, including trays, cubbies and, of course, cupholders. That said, the Qashqai fails to match the other two when you attempt to fill its door pockets, which are a bit stingy in the front and rear.

In the rear, when it comes to seating space, you'll see another area in which the latest Qashqai makes gains over the previous one. For a start, its unusually wide-opening doors help you get in and out easily and are handy if you’re fitting a child seat. The outer rear seats leave some spare leg room for six-footers, even when the front seats are slid back. There’s some breathing space when it comes to head room, too, despite the Tekna’s standard panoramic glass roof.

Seat Ateca 2022 boot open

That said, both its rivals have more. Although the tape measure suggests otherwise, the Ateca offers a fraction more head room than the Qashqai when you’re sitting normally, while the Karoq (also with a standard-from-new glass roof) has the most clearance. The Ateca and Karoq have slightly more leg room and foot space under their front seats, too, plus you sit with your backside higher from the floor, further aiding comfort.

The Qashqai is tight on head and leg room for a tall passenger sitting in the middle rear seat, while the other two provide just enough space for three to travel side by side in reasonable comfort.

As tested, none of the cars has sliding or reclining rear seats, although that facility is available with other versions of the Karoq – just not SportLine trim. The rear seats in all of them split and fold 60/40, with the Ateca and Karoq adding a ski hatch for extra flexibility when carrying long items. You can fold down the seatbacks easily in the latter pair via release handles in their boots, whereas the Qashqai requires you to trot around to the side of the car to unclip its seats.

Skoda Karoq 2021 boot

The Karoq has the biggest boot. It’s capable of carrying up to nine carry-on suitcases below its parcel shelf. The Ateca manages eight, while the Qashqai holds seven – still a good amount of luggage space.

The Qashqai’s standard height-adjustable boot floor is a great piece of design. It comes in two pieces that can be slotted vertically into the centre of the boot floor, creating a divider that helps to stop items from rolling around. An adjustable boot floor was a £195 option from new on the Karoq, and this feature is unavailable to Ateca buyers. When you raise the height-adjustable boot floor in the Qashqai and Karoq and drop their rear seatbacks, you end up with a flat extended floor, whereas the Ateca has a step halfway along.