Review: Nissan Qashqai 1.5 dCi Tekna 2014
Seven years on from igniting the crossover SUV boom with the original Qashqai, Nissan has returned to the scene of the crime to set the standard once again.
The second generation Qashqai is a tiny bit longer and wider than before and apart from sharper edges here and there and the narrower rear window, the Qashqai looks very much as it did in 2007, before it went on to sell three times as many as originally anticipated.
It’s a cautious ‘if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it’ approach and the fresh revisions applied by Nissan’s designers have future-proofed what was already a highly desirable SUV for another few years.
Compared to the original Qashqai, it is 62mm longer at 4377mm, 21mm wider at 1806mm, and 1590mm tall, 15mm shorter than before. The wheelbase has been drawn out by 16mm to 2646mm too.
This larger silhouette affords the Qashqai greater luggage space with 430 litres - 20 more than before and the same as in the Suzuki S-Cross – opening up to 1585 litres with the back seats down.
Engine options consist of a single petrol - 1.2-litre DIG-T with 115PS - and three diesels - 1.5 dCi 110PS, 1.6 dCi 110PS, and 1.6 dCi 130PS – all front wheel drive except the latter which can also be ordered with four wheel drive.
The model on test here though is the most fuel efficient Qashqai, the 1.5 diesel, paired to a six-speed manual gearbox in the range-topping Tekna trim.
On a combined cycle, it can return 74.3mpg combined, emitting just 99g of CO2 every kilometre.
That was class-leading for a crossover SUV upon its introduction in January 2014 with only Suzuki’s S-Cross coming close with 67.2mpg and 110g/km from its 1.6 diesel (£16,999).
However, the arrival of Volkswagen’s Golf SV has since undercut its eco-pride with the 1.6 diesel Bluemotion achieving 76.3mpg at 95g/km CO2. It is also two grand cheaper than our test Qashqai at £22,715 OTR.
On the road
With a 0-62mph time of almost 12 seconds, the 1.5 dCi isn’t the most exhilarating drive in its segment. Even the Qashqai’s most spirited sprint in the 1.6 diesel (10.5s) lags behind the equivalent Mazda CX-5 (9.2s) and Honda CR-V (10s).
This less urgent performance is the payoff for its stronger fuel economy and running costs, but the Qashqai’s velvety ride and crisp handling deliver a drive considerably more rewarding that of Suzuki’s S-Cross or the CR-V. Its calm and almost pacifist-like road manner outline exactly what made the first Qashqai so special.
The six-speed manual gearbox is smooth but doughy and would benefit from a touch more accuracy, similar to how the CX-5’s close, short-shifting transmission builds driver confidence.
The Qashqai holds itself more graciously with less body roll than in the larger CX-5 and CR-V. It doesn’t handle nasty potholes with as much dignity as the Mazda but exterior noise is well isolated and wind noise only starts to intrude at motorway speeds.
Interior cabin quality only adds to the Qashqai’s likeability. Granted, we’re looking at the top Tekna grade here, upwards from £23,580, but the leather seats and measured use of chrome to break up the dark grey plastic results in a tasteful and practical cabin.
There’s a nice balance of steering wheel controls, which all work fine, while the smart and uncluttered central console is intuitive and easy to use. The sat-nav follows suit but the system in the Golf SV is tough to beat.
It’s got a classier feel than most of its rivals, especially the S-Cross, but the Golf SV’s sturdier build and more inspiring layout, virtually untouched from its standard hatch and estate variants, has the edge.
Starting from just under £18k or £175 a month, only Suzuki’s £15k/£152 S-Cross is more affordable out of its rivals.
All Qashqais come with 16” alloy wheels, a five-inch colour HD infotainment screen, hill start assist, automatic air con, and cruise control/speed limiter.
Upgrading to Acenta trim (£19,145) adds dual-zone air con, 17” alloys, auto headlamps, rain-sensing wipers and front fog lamps.
The Acenta Premium (£20,995) throws in the NissanConnect infotainment system and DAB radio, front collision avoidance, high beam assist, lane departure warning, and a panoramic glass roof.
Our top trim Tekna model (£24,840) came on 19” alloys with around view monitor, blind spot warning, silver roof rails, intelligent park assist, heated windscreen, and heated front seats.
The Qashqai is like the David Tennant of cars.
It does its job well enough to deserve the odd award and anyone that can find anything to really object to either has a vendetta or is being unreasonable. It can travel through time too (maybe, I think it’s an optional extra).
The Qashqai is the quintessential modern crossover; it looks the part, it drives beautifully, it will be kind to your pocket. Nissan surely has another mega-selling hit on its hands again.
Nissan Qashqai MK2 in numbers:
Boot space: 430 / 1585 litres
Petrol engines: 1.2 DIG-T 2WD
Diesel engines: 1.5 dCi 2WD, 1.6 dCi 2WD/4WD (man/CVT)
Most fuel efficient: 1.5 dCi – 74.3mpg – 99g/km CO2 - £19,290 OTR
Cheapest: 1.2 DIG-T - £17,595
Fastest: 1.6 dCi – 0-62mph in 10.5secs, 118mph top speed - £20,595
Priciest: 1.6 dCi Tekna 4WD - £27,845
Key rivals: Volkswagen Golf SV, Suzuki S-Cross, Mazda CX-5
On sale: Since January 2014