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First Drive

First Drive: Nissan Qashqai

The story:
New petrol engines and updated infotainment are the main story in the Qashqai’s refresh.
Key rival:Seat Ateca
Nissan Qashqai
Emissions: 121g/km
On sale:Now

The Nissan Qashqai quickly established itself as a fleet player when it launched in 2009, and has continued to be one ever since. But in the meantime, a plethora of compact SUV rivals has arrived into the market, all wanting a slice of the pie.

The Qashqai has held up remarkably well. It’s now on its second generation, had a facelift last year and year-to-date is the fourth biggest selling car in the UK. A notable whack of that is fleet buyers, long tempted by a good all-round package.First drive- Nissan Qashqai - December 2018 - image 7

So what’s different now? Ahead of a new Qashqai, due to launch in 2020, Nissan is making sure it keeps up with the Joneses. There are two new petrol engines replacing outgoing equivalents, which meet new EU engine standards and promise lower CO2 emissions and reduced fuel consumption.

The new 138bhp and 158bhp 1.3 DIG-T engines deliver, on the smallest 17-inch wheels, 53.3mpg and 51.4mpg and 121g/km and 122g/km of CO2 respectively. If you want 18- or 19-inch wheels, this will rise to 130g and 131g/km, pushing you up two benefit-in-kind bands from 25% to 27%.

A seven-speed dual-clutch transmission appears on the more powerful version.

We drove the lower-powered 138bhp 1.3-litre DIG-T, which instantly stands out for its refinement. Alongside an impressively quiet engine, it delivered power smoothly and quickly throughout the range and there’s ample pull for any driving scenario. It achieve 0-62mph in 10.5secs, shaving 0.8secs off its predecessor’s time.

We also tried the more powerful 158bhp which is naturally more sprightly, but may not be enough for the £1500 extra in list price. That said, if power is your thing, there’s little to lose from a BIK point of view, given both variants fall into the same emissions bracket.

The Qashqai’s impressive driving credit remains: ride is good and handling isn’t half bad either, although the Seat Ateca has the edge on the latter, being just a bit more animated.

The car maker has also updated its infotainment system in a bid to keep pace with newer rivals. This is certainly an area where many consider that the Nissan doesn’t have the finesse of newer rivals.

Nissan’s system is now compatible with Apple and Android phones on all but entry-level trim, has over-the-air updates, new functionality and an app called Door-to-Door navigation which allows an owner to plan a route before leaving home, and then send it to the car.First drive- Nissan Qashqai - December 2018 - image 1

Despite the additions, it’s not as easy to use as you’d hope, with the ‘pinch and pull’ action on the touchscreen taking a while
to respond, something many car touchscreens are guilty of. Aesthetically, it’s also starting to look outdated compared with rival systems. All-in-all, it needs an overhaul to match up to the Seat Ateca or Skoda Karoq.

The Tekna+ we drove is the top trim, and you get everything but the kitchen sink thrown in. This includes heated front seats, panoramic glass roof, memory driver seat, Bose sound system, parking sensors and rear view camera.

The Qashqai remains a strong player. It might not lead on all fronts versus competitors but these updates help make it more relevant than ever.










The verdict

As good as it’s ever been, the Qashqai remains a worthy car. It’s a close call between it and the Seat Ateca.