Nissan Qashqai hatchback performance
We reckon the entry-level 138bhp 1.3-litre petrol engine is the best choice for most buyers. Outright acceleration is brisk enough, but it is this engine’s flexibility – the ease with which you can build speed from low revs in any given gear – that really impresses.
There’s also a 158bhp version of essentially the same 1.3-litre engine. It’s not significantly stronger for day-to-day use, to be honest, so given how strong the lower-powered motor is and the not-insignificant price premium, it hardly seems worth it. That is, unless you tow a caravan, when the extra oomph could prove useful, or you want the option of an automatic gearbox, which the 138bhp version doesn’t provide.
The 113bhp 1.5-litre diesel is worth a look if you’re a high-mileage driver. It isn’t particularly quick in terms of outright acceleration, but it delivers its power smoothly and is pretty gutsy from low revs, so it never feels frustratingly tardy.
A 148bhp 1.7 diesel will join the range in early 2019 and will be the only variant available with four-wheel drive. We’ll let you know what it’s like when we’ve had a go.
If you need an automatic gearbox, you’ll be impressed by the responsiveness of the 1.3-litre’s optional dual-clutch ’box; it reacts quickly to prods of the accelerator and invariably finds the right gear for your needs.
Nissan Qashqai hatchback ride
In this case, ride quality depends a lot of the size of the wheels fitted to your Qashqai. On the smallest 17in rims – standard on Visia and Acenta Premium models and optional on the posher trims – things are reasonably smooth. Scars and potholes are dealt with adroitly in town, and the ride stays neatly controlled at motorway speeds; it’s certainly a more supple option than the Seat Ateca, although the rival Skoda Karoq is an even more comfortable.
Move up to 18in wheels (standard with big-selling N-Connecta trim), though, and the ride quality starts to deteriorate. The car jostles you around more than the Skoda Karoq would along scarred roads and isn’t especially settled on the motorway, either – even compared with the sportier Ateca.
A real word of warning, though: the ride is too firm and unsettled if you go for a Tekna model on standard 19in wheels, so we’d avoid these at all costs.
Nissan Qashqai hatchback handling
You might not expect a family SUV to handle particularly well, but there are cars in this class that do – namely the Seat Ateca and Skoda Karoq. The Qashqai is a bit softer by comparison, with plenty of body lean in bends and slightly vague steering that doesn’t tell you so subliminally about the grip that's available, making it less fun for keen drivers.
That said, for everyone else, the Qashqai is safe and secure along a twisting country road, thanks to plenty of grip. It’s also light and easy to manage in town.
As we mentioned earlier, if you want the extra traction of four-wheel drive, you’ll have to wait for the 1.7-litre diesel to come on stream in 2019.
Nissan Qashqai hatchback refinement
The 138bhp 1.3 petrol is a tad gravelly at low revs but still smoother and quieter overall than the equivalent engines in the rival Skoda Karoq and Seat Ateca, while the 1.5-litre diesel is remarkably hushed – even when you’re working it hard.
However, there’s plenty of suspension noise to spoil the peace along rough roads. Opt for 18in or larger wheels and the Qashqai also generates noticeable tyre roar at higher speeds, such as on the motorway. Overall, it isn’t as peaceful a cruising companion as the best cars in this class.
Meanwhile, the Qashqai’s manual gearbox has quite a long throw and doesn’t snick into gear as sweetly as the Seat Ateca’s, although the light action of the shift means little elbow grease is required. Meanwhile, the slightly vague accelerator and clutch action of the 1.3-litre manual petrol models can produce the odd kangaroo start.
The dual-clutch auto ’box that’s available on the higher-powered petrol Qashqai is also a little jerky at slow speeds but changes very smoothly up and down the gears once you're rolling.