What's the used Nissan Qashqai hatchback like?
As evidence of just how highly we rate this second-generation Nissan Qashqai, it was crowned What Car? Car of the Year in 2014. Back then, our judges were impressed by the British-built Qashqai’s "low costs and first-class levels of comfort, refinement, space and safety". The good news is that this still holds true as a used buy.
The present Qashqai was heavily facelifted in 2017 and some engine changes adopted in 2018, but the original engine range consisted of 1.5-litre and 1.6-litre diesels, or if you prefer petrol power there was a choice of 1.2-litre and 1.6-litre turbocharged units. In both cases, the smaller engines were actually preferable both in terms of costs and smoothness. A CVT automatic gearbox called Xtronic was available on the 1.2 petrol and 1.6 diesel. That facelift brought in a raft of changes and eventually a new engine line-up. It now kicks off with a 138bhp 1.3-litre petrol unit, and is followed by a 158bhp version of the same engine. On the diesel side, there's a 113bhp 1.5-litre engine, as before. A 148bhp 1.7-litre diesel is due to be introduced in 2019.
Of the trims available on the later cars, entry-level Visia models come with air conditioning and cruise control, but misses out on lots of desirable kit, including alloy wheels. Acenta trim is certainly worth a look, because it adds 17in alloy wheels, dual-zone climate control, automatic lights and wipers and various infotainment upgrades. However, we can certainly see why you’d be tempted by N-Connecta, which adds privacy glass, bigger wheels and keyless entry. You get more safety kit, too. Tekna models are pricey and the bigger 19in alloy wheels ruin the ride quality, but it comes with part-leather seats and a panoramic glass roof. Meanwhile, Tekna+ gets you more luxurious nappa leather seats.
On the road, the lower-powered 1.3 petrol strikes a happy compromise between smoothness and economy. It's brisk enough in everyday use, and effectively replaces the previous 1.2 and 1.6-litre units, neither of which impressed as they should. The 1.5-litre diesel is gutsy and delivers plenty of poke from low revs, though there is the occasional gruffness to it. The 1.6-litre diesel on the older variants could also be a little gravelly, although there was a noticeable increase in available shove.
The Qashqai was developed on UK roads and you can tell by the way it strikes such a good balance between ride comfort and handling. The steering is responsive, the body doesn’t lean too much in corners and there’s lots of grip, yet the Qashqai also rides bumps and potholes with real composure, particularly if you avoid the largest 19in wheels. It also does a really good job of shutting out wind and road noise.
While newer rivals such as the Seat Ateca have overtaken it, there’s easily enough room in the boot of the Qashqai for a folded baby buggy, a travel cot and a few overnight bags. Opt for an Acenta version or above and you also get boot dividers that can be used to either segment the load space or raise the boot floor for a flat loading lip. Drop the rear seats and you can fit an adult’s bicycle in, provided you first remove its front wheel.
If you plan on carrying taller passengers, it’s worth choosing a model without the panoramic glass roof, because this eats into head room. That aside, there’s just enough space in the rear for three to sit side by side or for two adults to travel in comfort.
Up front, the Qashqai feels very spacious and has enough storage for odds and ends. What’s more, the quality of the dashboard is a real step up from the first-generation Qashqai, giving this newer model a classy feel.
The Qashqai’s practical nature is backed up by a full five-star Euro NCAP crash test rating, although the restricted rear visibility means it’s worth choosing a model with parking sensors or a reversing camera.