Nissan Qashqai review

Category: Family SUV

Family SUV is a strong contender in its class, but some rivals are better to drive

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  • Nissan Qashqai interior infotainment
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  • Nissan Qashqai interior detail
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  • Blue Nissan Qashqai front cornering
  • Nissan Qashqai interior dashboard
  • Blue Nissan Qashqai boot open
  • Nissan Qashqai interior driver display
  • Blue Nissan Qashqai right driving
  • Blue Nissan Qashqai front driving
  • Blue Nissan Qashqai right static
  • Blue Nissan Qashqai left static boot open
  • Blue Nissan Qashqai headlights detail
  • Nissan Qashqai alloy wheel detail
  • Blue Nissan Qashqai rear detail
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  • Nissan Qashqai interior front seats
  • Nissan Qashqai interior back seats
  • Nissan Qashqai interior steering wheel detail
  • Nissan Qashqai interior infotainment
  • Nissan Qashqai interior detail
  • Nissan Qashqai interior detail
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by
Dan Jones
Published20 October 2023

Introduction

What Car? says...

It’s not easy to become a trendsetter, but the Nissan Qashqai managed it incredibly well, lighting a firecracker under the family SUV trend, and catching on so rapidly that millions of them are now on the road. 

The thing is though, you have to evolve to remain at the top – and that’s exactly what Nissan has done with the Qashqai, retaining the qualities that made it so popular while adding new technology and engines to the line-up.

Speaking of which, you can have the Qashqai with one of two 1.3 DIG-T petrol engines or the e-Power, which blurs the lines between petrol and electric cars by using its engine to power an electric generator rather than the wheels. 

So, how does the Nissan Qashqai compare with the best family SUVs? Is it as spacious as the Kia Sportage or the Skoda Karoq or as fun to drive as the Seat Ateca? And can its top trims rival the premium-feel of the Audi Q3, the BMW X1 and the Volvo XC40?

Read on to find out, as we put the Qashqai through its paces. And when you've chosen the right car for you, we can help you find the best price from a trusted dealer if you search our New Car Deals pages.

Blue Nissan Qashqai rear cornering

Overview

The Nissan Qashqai remains a strong contender in the family SUV class, but doesn’t quite match the all-round package offered by the Kia Sportage and Skoda Karoq. We think you’re best off sticking with the mid-spec N-Connecta 140 trim, because it gives the best mix of equipment and value for money.

  • Lots of standard safety kit
  • Great driving position
  • Smart interior
  • So-so performance
  • Some rivals are more fun to drive
  • Lacks the seating flexibility of many rivals
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Nissan Qashqai 1.3 DiG-T MH N-Connecta 5dr review
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Performance & drive

What it’s like to drive, and how quiet it is

Engine, 0-60mph and gearbox

The hybrid technology of the Nissan Qashqai's 1.3-litre petrol engines means the starter motor can act as a generator, harvesting energy as the car slows down to charge a tiny battery. That energy is used to assist the engine at low speeds and improve fuel economy.

The 138bhp DIG-T 140 and 156bhp DIG-T 158 are both a bit languid at low revs, pausing slightly when you ask for more power, but drop down a gear and they’ll get you past slower cars safely and up to motorway speeds.

You won’t really notice any difference in performance – the DIG-T 158 sprinting officially sprinting from 0-62mph in 9.5 seconds and the DIG-T 140 in 10.1 seconds – so we’d stick with the cheaper 140 version. 

At the top of the range sits the e-Power, which has been designed to let people dip their toe into the world of electric cars without range anxiety.

Instead of powering the front wheels, its 187bhp 1.5-litre petrol engine produces electricity and sends that to the electric motor. That gives you electric car-like instant acceleration off the line (0-62mph takes 7.9 seconds), without you needing to charge it up.

Suspension and ride comfort

The Qashqai is available with wheels ranging from 17in to 20in, and the choice you make will have a big impact on ride comfort.

Nissan Qashqai image
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We think the sweet spot is the 18in wheels that come with our favourite N-Connecta trim. With those equipped, the suspension deals with scruffy surfaces at low speeds well and comfort isn’t far behind the Skoda Karoq.

We’d suggest avoiding the 19in and 20in wheels you get with Takna and Tekna+ models if comfort is important to you. With those larger wheels fitted, the Qashqai makes more of a fuss of bumps as they pass under the car, leading to a bit of fidget faster roads.

If you go for Tekna+ trim or equip the top-spec engine with four-wheel drive, you get more sophisticated suspension that helps to mitigate the effect of the larger wheels.

Handling

Nissan would like us to believe that the Qashqai is a fun family SUV to drive. We’re not convinced about that, because it's not as rewarding or capable as, for example, the Seat Ateca or Toyota C-HR.

We’d like a slightly better sense of connection with the front wheels through the steering wheel to give more confidence. That would be helped by a bit more initial steering weight and the wheel returning naturally to centre more positively on the way out of faster corners. That said, the light steering works well around town. 

While there's more body lean than in the Ateca, the Qashqai isn't wallowy, and there's a healthy reserve of grip if you need it.

Noise and vibration

No matter which engine you go for, the Qashqai is hushed at low revs and more muted than the Ateca and Karoq petrols when worked hard. Versions with 19in or 20in wheels suffer from a fair bit of road noise, but the 18s are much quieter. There’s a bit of wind noise at motorway speeds, caused by the big door mirrors but, on the whole, refinement is good.

The standard six-speed manual gearbox is easy enough to use, giving a light yet positive change that makes it simple to find the right gear. The DIG-T 158 engine is also available with an automatic gearbox that's smooth and responsive enough for most situations.

The e-Power system has a specific advantage, not just over other Qashqais but over many other hybrids. Because it has no gearbox, with the wheels being powered by an electric motor, you never have to worry about it hunting for gears like the hybrid Kia Sportage does when you put your foot down.

“The automatic gearbox, called Xtronic, is smooth and I found it helps to contribute to impressive refinement.” – Will Nightingale, Reviews Editor

Driving overview

Strengths Good body control; decent refinement; comfortable ride on smaller wheels

Weaknesses Not particularly nippy; rivals more fun to drive

Nissan Qashqai interior dashboard

Interior

The interior layout, fit and finish

Driving position and dashboard

The driving position in the Nissan Qashqai is superb. The driver's seat is comfy, and it lines up well with the pedals and the height and reach adjustable steering wheel. If you avoid entry-level Visia trim, you get manually adjustable lumbar support, while Tekna and Tekna+ models add full electric seat adjustment. The Tekna+ even has seat memory settings and a massage function.

You feel as though you’re sitting higher up from the road than you do in a conventional hatchback (or the Seat Ateca for that matter), which is something most SUV fans will appreciate.

The dashboard includes chunky controls for the air conditioning that are easy to find while you’re driving. If you go for N-Connecta trim or above, the analogue instrument dials behind the steering wheel are replaced with an entirely digital 12.3in display, which is bright and easy to read, while Tekna and Tekna+ also get a large head-up display.

Visibility, parking sensors and cameras

Seeing out of the front and sides of the Qashqai isn’t too tricky, although the Skoda Karoq has slightly less obstructive windscreen pillars.

The Karoq also gives you better rear visibility because of its generous rear glass area. The Qashqai, along with many other rivals, has a swept-up rear window line and thicker rear pillars, which hampers the over-the-shoulder view.

Reversing isn’t too much of a challenge because even entry-level Visia models come with rear parking sensors. Acenta Premium trim adds a rear-view camera, while going for N-Connecta trim or above swaps that for a 360-degree bird’s eye view camera and adds front parking sensors.

All versions have LED headlights, and they're adaptive on Tekna trim and above, so you can leave them on high beam without dazzling other drivers.

Sat nav and infotainment

Infotainment isn’t a strength of the entry-level Qashqai, because Visia trim gets a simple 7in screen that displays the radio. Stepping up to Acenta Premium trim upgrades that to an 8.0in touchscreen, but the quality isn’t great and the graphics are quite arcade-like. 

Luckily, mid-spec N-Connecta trim steps things up to a new 12.3in touchscreen which is far better, giving you far superior screen quality and a faster response to your prods. It still doesn’t match the Seat Ateca and Skoda Karoq’s infotainment though, and is a world away from the BMW X1 iDrive system (our favourite in the family SUV class).  

Android Auto and Apple CarPlay smartphone mirroring is standard on all but Visia trim, while every Qashqai comes with DAB radio and Bluetooth.

Opting for a trim with the new 12.3in infotainment system will also add built-in sat-nav, which uses Google Maps data to give you the latest traffic information, as well as Google Street View, Amazon Alexa voice control and over-the-air updates.

Quality

The Qashqai’s interior looks smart and feels well put together compared with many of its mainstream rivals'. Stitched faux-leather panels on the dashboard and doors give the ambience a welcome lift, and most of the knobs, buttons and switches on the dashboard feel well-engineered.

The Karoq is just as good, while the Mazda CX-30 and the Peugeot 3008 are even more upmarket inside (although the margins aren’t huge). Indeed, if you want a family SUV that has a notably plusher interior, you’ll need to fork out for a BMW X1 or Volvo XC40.

“I found myself relying on Apple CarPlay to get around the shortcomings of the Qashqai’s infotainment.” – Neil Winn, Deputy Reviews Editor

Interior overview

Strengths Great driving position; pleasant interior; impressive build quality

Weaknesses Limited rear visibility; rivals have better infotainment

Blue Nissan Qashqai boot open

Passenger & boot space

How it copes with people and clutter

Front space

There’s decent space for adults in the front of the Nissan Qashqai, with more than enough leg room and enough head room for six-footers to sit in comfort. That’s true even if you go for models fitted with a panoramic glass roof (from Tekna), which lowers the ceiling a little.

The interior is a good width too, meaning that even a pair of broad rugby players won’t need to worry about constantly rubbing shoulders.

Elsewhere, you’ll find a reasonable-sized glovebox, a cubby beneath the front centre armrest and a couple of cupholders. The front door bins aren't particularly generous, though.

Rear space

Getting in and out of the Qashqai's back seats is easy thanks to rear doors that open really wide – arguably the widest in the class. That's also a blessing if you’re putting kids in child seats.

The rear seats are reasonably roomy by class standards, with good head room (especially if you avoid versions with a panoramic roof) and a fair amount of knee room for the two outer passengers. Two six-footers will fit just fine. Three tall adults will find it more of a squeeze and the raised centre seat means there's less head room for the middle passenger.

If you need to carry three adults in the back regularly, try the Seat Ateca or Skoda Karoq, which have a bit more space all around, or the Hyundai Tucson, which is one of the most accommodating cars in the class for rear passengers.

The door bins are small, and you only get map pockets and a rear armrest from N-Connecta trim upwards.

Seat folding and flexibility

The Qashqai's rear seatbacks fold down in a traditional 60/40 split rather than the more versatile 40/20/40 split offered by rivals including the Audi Q3.

The seats don’t do anything else clever, either, such as sliding back and forth or reclining. Some versions of the Karoq offer those features, and even let you remove the rear seats from the car entirely.

There are no handles in the boot to release the rear seatbacks, which you do get with some rivals, including the Ateca. You have to open each rear door to access the release catch on top of the seatback then haul the seatback forwards yourself. That's far from a deal-breaker, though.

Boot space

The Qashqai's 504-litre litre boot doesn't offer quite as much luggage space as the Seat Ateca or Skoda Karoq, but the margins are quite small. Its load bay will take a handy tally of seven carry-on suitcases below the parcel shelf, while the Ateca can swallow eight and the Karoq up to nine.

The false boot floor, which features on all but entry-level Visia models, allows you to effectively raise the height of the floor when you don’t need maximum luggage capacity, reducing the lip at the entrance.

One side of the floor is carpeted, but if you flip it over you’ll find a wipe-clean surface that’s handy if you’re carrying muddy boots. The false floor is in two sections, and you can slot it vertically across the centre of the boot to create a divider to stop your shopping sliding around.

It’s worth noting that you get a slightly smaller boot if you go for the range-topping Tekna+ model.

“The reversible planks in the boot are great. They’re carpeted on one side, whilst the other is wipe-clean. I found it made the boot easy to scrub after carrying my muddy walking boots. – Dan Jones, Reviewer

Practicality overview

Strengths Plenty of front space; rear doors open helpfully wide; decent rear space

Weaknesses Rivals have bigger boots; rear seats are not very versatile

Nissan Qashqai interior driver display

Buying & owning

Everyday costs, plus how reliable and safe it is

Costs, insurance groups, MPG and CO2

Broadly speaking, mild-hybrid Nissan Qashqais are priced in line with the Seat Ateca and Skoda Karoq. Opting for the e-Power versions adds a small premium on top of the mild-hybrid prices, making even the entry-level e-Power cost about the same as a Kia Sportage hybrid in GT-Line trim.

You’re unlikely to get as big a discount as you will with rivals, but the Qashqai is predicted to depreciate more slowly over three years of ownership.

In our Real MPG tests, the DIG-T 158 averaged 40.1mpg – a respectable if not outstanding figure.

It's a similar story with CO2 emissions, so if you’re hunting for really cheap company car tax bills, we’d suggest looking at the plug-in hybrid Ford Kuga or, if your lifestyle allows, an electric SUV such as the Skoda Enyaq.

Officially, the e-Power will manage 53.3mpg and reduces the CO2 emissions to 121g/km. That should make it the cheapest Qashqai to run but doesn’t match the 60mpg or lower CO2 emissions of the Toyota C-HR.

PCP finance deals are usually competitive, largely thanks to the slow depreciation. If you’re considering buying one of the range-topping versions of the Qashqai, it’s worth knowing that you could have a premium-badged alternative such as a Volvo XC40 for a similar monthly outlay.

Equipment, options and extras

Nissan expects only 1% of buyers to go for entry-level Visia trim, and it really doesn’t get much kit at all, other than air conditioning, keyless start and adaptive cruise control.

Instead, if you want to keep costs down, we’d advise going to at least Acenta Premium, because it adds the touchscreen infotainment system, automatic wipers, dual-zone air conditioning and additional parking aids. 

The most popular option is expected to be N-Connecta, and we reckon that’s the best bet. As well as the 18in wheels, larger infotainment screen and extra visibility aids, you also get privacy glass, an auto-dimming rear-view mirror, dual-zone climate control, keyless entry, power-folding door mirrors, a leather-wrapped steering wheel and some ambient interior lighting.

Range-topping Tekna and Tekna+ are expected to sell well too. Tekna is worth considering if you want an electric tailgate, a head-up display or a heated steering wheel, windscreen and front seats. Tekna+ is too pricey to recommend, although it does get you quilted leather massaging seats.

Reliability

In the 2023 What Car? Reliability Survey, the Qashqai performed pretty well against its peers in the family SUV table, finishing within the top third of the rankings, and above the Ateca, Sportage and XC40. Indeed, of its direct rivals, only the C-HR and Karoq scored better. 

Nissan as brand didn’t perform quite as well, claiming 19th place out of the 32 included manufacturers. That places it below Hyundai, Kia, Volvo, Citroen, Ford, Seat and Skoda. 

In case things do go wrong, Nissan offers a three-year/ 60,000-mile standard warranty, but that’s pretty par for the course. Hyundai, Kia and Toyota all offer longer warranties.

Safety and security

The latest Qashqai scored five stars (out of five) when it was appraised for safety by Euro NCAP in 2019. The results show that the model did well at protecting adults and children, scoring a 'marginal' in only one area. 

There’s plenty of standard safety kit, with even entry-level Visia models coming with automatic emergency braking (AEB), blind-spot monitoring, driver attention alert, traffic-sign recognition, lane-keeping assistance and e-Call emergency response.

If you go for the more expensive Tekna or Tekna+ trims, you get Nissan’s ProPilot driver assistance system. That adds a self-steering function that allows the Qashqai to keep itself in the centre of a lane on motorways and dual carriageways (you must keep your hands on the steering wheel at all times). When paired with an automatic gearbox, it uses software from the sat-nav to anticipate the speed you should be going and adjust it for you.

“The Qashqai’s head-up display is great. It’s a shame it’s only fitted as standard to Tekna and Tekna+ models, but even so, you’d still have to pay extra for it in an equivalent Honda HR-V.” – Lawrence Cheung, New Cars Editor

Costs overview

Strengths Lots of standard safety kit; slow depreciation; well-equipped 

Weaknesses Not particularly efficient; expensive top trims

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FAQs

  • Across the Qashqai range, prices are similar to the Seat Ateca and Skoda Karoq. Meanwhile, if you go for the top trims, it strays into the territory of premium models including the Audi Q3, the BMW X1 and the Volvo XC40.

  • If you’re after a diesel, a new Qashqai isn’t for you because you can only have it with petrol engines now. You have a few to choose from, though, with the range including two mild-hybrid engines and the e-Power, which uses its petrol engine to power an electric motor.

  • While it’s good in many areas, the Qashqai’s main downfalls are its so-so performance, lack of rear seat flexibility and the fact that it isn’t quite as fun to drive as rivals including the Seat Ateca.

At a glance
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RRP price range £27,135 - £42,980
Number of trims (see all)11
Number of engines (see all)6
Available fuel types (which is best for you?)hybrid, petrol
MPG range across all versions 40.2 - 54.3
Available doors options 5
Warranty 3 years / 60000 miles
Company car tax at 20% (min/max) £1,716 / £2,932
Company car tax at 40% (min/max) £3,433 / £5,864
Available colours