The Nissan Qashqai has become as familiar on UK roads as the ubiquitous VW Golf and Ford Fiesta. In its relatively short lifetime, it’s already become one of the nation’s most popular cars.
It was the right car at the right time, effectively kicking off the crossover craze when it first arrived in 2007. Now in its second generation, the current Qashqai is just about to be updated with a mid-life facelift.
Time for a refresher drive in the outgoing version to find out if it’s still at the top of the tree on merit alone.
Powering this particular Qashqai is a 1.6-litre turbocharged petrol engine producing 161bhp and 177lb ft of torque, driving the front wheels via a six-speed manual gearbox.
It’s punchy enough, but doesn’t feel as well suited to the Qashqai as one of the refined and torquey diesels available elsewhere in the range, especially for longer journeys. By no means is it slow, but you do need to make good use of that gearbox to get the best out of it – peak power comes in at a heady 5600rpm, and you need to allow the turbo some time to spool up.
In doing so, the DIG-T engine becomes quite boomy and vocal, to a degree that feels inappropriate in a practical family car. By contrast, at a cruise the Qashqai is a very refined car indeed, with virtually no engine noise making its way into the cabin. One which majors on comfort, too. The ride is very comfortable even on this car’s 18-inch alloys, while retaining admirable body control.
The steering doesn’t offer much in the way of feel, but it doesn’t feel overly assisted or light, either.
Is it actually a decent family car?
Key to the Qashqai’s appeal is its carry-it-all practicality. There’s usable space for five and the boot really is big, with a useful split load floor if you want to keep shopping from going walkabout.
The interior is showing its age in places now, with a noticeably dated infotainment screen and some aging switchgear items dotted around. Fine when this car was launched, but the Seat Ateca and Peugeot 3008 have since moved the game on in terms of quality and design.
What do you get for your money?
Costing less than the 1.5-litre dCi diesel, this 1.6 DIG-T petrol version of the Qashqai represents decent value with plenty of kit thrown in.
In N-Connecta spec you get sat-nav, DAB radio and Bluetooth controlled via the touchscreen, plus climate control, cruise control and a huge glass roof. A standard set of safety equipment includes autonomous emergency braking, blind spot monitoring and 360-degree cameras for slow-speed manoeuvring.
Should I wait for the new one?
Depends how much you want a Qashqai with a slightly different look. It’ll have Nissan’s new face, but it’s largely the same car, albeit with some extra semi-autonomous driving tech and a new steering wheel.
Read the full rundown of what to expect from the new(ish) Qashqai here.
If you’re not so fussy, the Qashqai is still an excellent choice, but it’s starting to be edged out by newer competition – the Peugeot 3008, Seat Ateca/VW Tiguan family and even the revamped mini-MPV Renault Scenic are fresher-faced and just as talented.