What's the used Nissan Qashqai hatchback like?
The first-generation version of the Nissan Qashqai was actually a huge gamble. It was one of the first family-sized SUVs on the market, at a time when such things weren't as sought after as they are today. If buyers hadn't taken to the rugged looks of the Qashqai or to its unusual name, it could have brought Nissan to its knees, but luckily it was an instant success and went on to spawn hundreds of rivals in its wake.
Part of the reason for its success was that despite looking like an SUV and offering decent practicality and a raised-up driving position, the Qashqai is actually closer in size to traditional family hatchbacks, such as the Ford Focus and Volkswagen Golf, so it was easy to drive too, and economical to run. Buyers after seven seats could even choose a +2 version, with two extra seats in a lengthened boot area. Both cars remained on sale until the arrival of the all-new second-generation Qashqai in 2013.
The 1.6-litre petrol option was less impressive but perfectly fine for low mileage driving. A higher-powered but slow-selling and thirsty 2.0-litre petrol version was also available. Those that need four-wheel drive or an automatic gearbox had to go for a 2.0-litre engine (petrol or diesel) if buying a pre-2012 Qashqai.
A new 1.6-litre dCi diesel was introduced in 2012 to replace the 2.0-litre unit and it's both more powerful and more economical than the 1.5, though the smaller engine is cheaper to buy. Four-wheel drive can be specified with the 1.6-litre dCi diesel, although most Qashqais in the classifieds are front-wheel drive.
In terms of specifications, early Qashqais were offered in Visia, Acenta and Tekna trim levels and even the base models are adequately equipped. The Tekna does, however, look more impressive thanks to its larger alloy wheels and other styling upgrades. Just don’t forget that the bigger wheels mean a less comfortable ride.
Even higher specification versions were offered later in the life of the first-generation Qashqai in the form of the N-tec and 360, equipped with high levels of safety equipment and technology as standard.
To drive, the Qashqai was no sports car, of course, but the performance was always adequate and it steered and handled well. The Qashqai was designed to be comfortable on the road first and foremost and in most trims it's one of the best cars in the class in terms of absorbing speed bumps and potholes. That said, it's worth bearing in mind that examples with larger alloy wheels are less comfortable, if more controlled feeling in the corners.
It does offer a raised ride height and driving position over those cars, but the boot is no larger, nor more useful, and the rear seats aren't especially spacious. The interior is well-made, however, and feels of a high quality.