Nissan Qashqai Review

A stylish family SUV inside and out, the Qashqai has lots of safety kit and represents great value for money.

Published: 24 October 2022

  • Nissan Qashqai 2021- driving

Summary

The Nissan Qashqai is a compact family car that gives you a high seating position but isn’t as tall or as bulky as a typical SUV. This latest version, sold new since 2021, is bigger than the previous model, giving you more interior and boot space. It looks strikingly modern and is packed with tech. The Qashqai, more than ever, is a practical and cost-effective car that’s easy to drive and to live with.

Pros

  • Striking looks
  • Lots of safety features
  • Good value

Cons

  • Rivals have roomier back seats
  • Equipment is basic on low-cost models
  • Not especially engaging to drive
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Interior

Dashboard & tech

The lowest-priced Qashqai models have a small, basic information screen but every other version has a touchscreen infotainment system with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto connectivity. Some models also have built-in sat nav that connects to Google Maps to help you find things like car parks and petrol stations. The system is much better than the one in previous-model Qashqais and while the design doesn’t look particularly flashy, it’s quick to respond to touch and easy to use. There are physical controls to jump between different features, which are easier to use on the move than with some touchscreen-only rival systems.

Comfort

The Qashqai’s seats are soft and comfy but hold you in place well, so you should get out at the end of a long journey without additional aches and pains. There’s a large range of adjustment for the driver’s seat and the steering wheel, so it’s easy to find a position that suits you. It’s also easy to get into the Qashqai because the seats are at thigh level for most people, so you can just step in – you don’t have to bend down or climb up.

High-spec models have extra features such as heated front seats, hands-free boot opening and a 360-degree parking camera that gives you a bird’s-eye view of the car and its surroundings. The top-of-the-range model even has massaging seats.

Quality

The latest Qashqai has a more premium feel when compared to the previous model. Not only does the interior design look more modern, the materials used are nicer to touch, especially on higher-spec models. It’s not quite as futuristic as the Peugeot 3008, or as premium as cars from Audi or Mercedes-Benz, but it’s a nice environment in which to spend time.

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Practicality & boot space

Interior space

The Qashqai has sufficient head, leg and shoulder room in its front seats for just about anyone to get comfortable. There’s also space for three adults in the back, although anyone much above average height might find their head- and legroom a bit tight. But a family of four should have no issues with the amount of space available. There are two sets of Isofix mounts for child seats in the back row and the back doors open wide to make it easier to lift children in and out.

Each of the Qashqai’s side doors has a pocket big enough for a drinks bottle and a smartphone. There’s also a pair of cupholders between the front seats, and in the back seat armrest. Lift up the front armrest and you’ll find a two-inch-deep rubberised tray that’s useful for storing coins and other small items. The tray can also be lifted up to access a deeper storage area that contains two USB charging ports. In front of the gearstick, there’s another tray big enough to hold a phone – it’s also a wireless charging pad in some models. The glovebox is really only big enough for the owner’s manual but there’s a map pocket on the back of each front seat.

Boot space

The Qashqai has a large boot, although a capacity of 504 litres to the load cover falls short of what you get in many rivals, including the Peugeot 3008 and the Skoda Karoq. It’s well-shaped and roomy enough for most families, however, with space for a pushchair plus shopping and school bags. The boot floor is level with the back bumper, which is just above your knee if you’re of average height, which makes it easier to load.

Versatility

The Qashqai is a very practical family car, even if some rivals have more features. In all versions, you get tie-down hoops and a 12-volt power socket in the boot, as well as back seats that fold down in two sections in a 60/40 split, released by buttons on the backrest. It doesn’t feature levers in the boot, though, which rivals use to let you drop the rear seats without having to reach through one of the rear side doors.

The back doors open extra wide to help load in child seats, and you can flip over the boot floor to reveal a wipe-clean surface for mucky boot storage.

Higher-spec models also have a moveable boot floor that allows you to create an extra compartment underneath that’s handy for things like shopping bags or dirty boots. It’s also big enough to store the load cover (sometimes known as the parcel shelf) if you need to take it out. One half of the two-piece floor can be positioned vertically, creating a barrier to stop bottles or footballs rolling around, or you can remove it altogether to increase the depth of the boot.

The top two trims have an electrically powered boot lid that can make it easier to open and close if you’ve got your hands full, especially since you can activate it simply by moving your foot under the back bumper (as long as you have the key on you).

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Driving

Driving experience

The Qashqai is really easy to drive because the steering is light, the brakes are smooth and you get a good view out of the windows, which helps with parking. Around town, it feels compact and nimble; on country roads and motorways it feels safe and solid. If you really enjoy driving, though, there are more engaging mid-size SUVs than the Qashqai – the Ford Kuga, for instance.

Performance

You can get the Qashqai with a choice of petrol or petrol-electric hybrid power. There are 138bhp and 156bhp versions of the 1.3-litre ‘DIG-T’ petrol engine, which has a mild hybrid system; both give you decent acceleration for a family SUV although the 156bhp version accelerates a bit more quickly.

You can have both versions with a manual gearbox but only the more powerful engine is available with an automatic. The automatic feels very smooth but there can sometimes be a slight delay between pressing the throttle pedal and the car’s starting to accelerate. You can easily adapt how you drive to take it into account, though.

The hybrid model, called ePower, is the most powerful Qashqai model, with 187bhp. It works differently to almost every other hybrid car, with an electric motor driving the wheels 100% of the time and a petrol engine that acts as a generator. It sounds odd, but it works well and gives you smooth, swift acceleration (an automatic gearbox is standard).

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Running costs

Fuel economy & CO2 emissions

Both 138bhp and 156bhp models with a manual gearbox give average fuel economy of up to 44.1mpg, with carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions of 145g/km, according to official figures. The 156bhp automatic model gives up to 44.3mpg and 144g/km of CO2, and the four-wheel-drive model gives up to 40.9mpg and 156g/km of CO2. Those figures are pretty good for a car of this size and with petrol engines. The e-Power hybrid model is the most fuel-efficient, with official average fuel economy of 53.3mpg.

Value for money

The Qashqai offers excellent value when compared with most rivals. Admittedly, you miss out on some desirable features with the lowest-priced model, but the mid-range versions are very competitively priced. Top-of-the-range models are packed with features that some other mid-size SUVs with a similar price don’t have.

Reliability & Warranty

Nissan offers a three-year, 60,000-mile warranty on the Qashqai from new, which is the same as some rivals but lags behind others. Some manufacturers, such as Peugeot, will cover the car for unlimited miles, and others, such as Toyota, Hyundai and Kia, offer five or even seven years of cover.

As a brand, Nissan has a solid reputation for reliability. In the J.D. Power 2019 UK Vehicle Dependability Study, it was ranked fourth of all the major carmakers, behind only Peugeot, Skoda and Hyundai.

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Safety

Safety features

Safety organisation Euro NCAP awarded the Qashqai a full five-star rating, ranking it as one of the top five safest cars in 2021. The Qashqai scored very highly for protecting both adult and child passengers in an accident and almost scored full marks for its advanced driver-assistance systems. Those features include automatic emergency braking, lane-keeping assist, blind-spot warning, rear cross-traffic alert, traffic sign recognition and a driver attention monitor.

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Trims & Engines

Trim levels

Five trim levels are available on the Qashqai. The most affordable is the Visia, followed by Acenta Premium, N-Connecta, Tekna and Tekna+. You get more equipment as standard as you rise through the trim levels – indeed, the top-of-the-range Tekna+ has features you might expect to find on a much more costly luxury car.

Entry-level Visia trim has the basics, including air con, cruise control, rear parking sensors, DAB radio, Bluetooth, and front and rear electric windows but you don’t get alloy wheels or a touchscreen, which the most cost-effective versions of many rivals include as standard.

The Acenta Premium adds those, plus Apple CarPlay or Android Auto connectivity, climate control, a digital driver’s display and a rear-view camera that helps you to park.

Step up to the N-Connecta and you also get built-in sat nav, front parking sensors and a 360-degree parking camera system. On top of all that, the Tekna model has heated front seats and steering wheel, an electrically adjustable driver’s seat, a full-length glass roof, a head-up display, a wireless phone charging pad and hands-free boot opening. The top-of-the-range Tekna+ also has a powerful Bose stereo and luxurious leather seats with a massaging function in the front seats.

Engines

The Qashqai has a 1.3-litre ‘DIG-T’ petrol engine with a mild-hybrid system that helps to improve fuel economy and to lower emissions. Two versions of the engine are available, with 138bhp or 156bhp. The 156bhp version gives you better performance and feels more able to maintain motorway speeds, so it could be the better option if you do lots of long journeys.

The 138bhp models have a manual gearbox while the 156bhp models have either a manual or an automatic gearbox, plus the option of four-wheel drive. The automatic is an unusual continuously variable transmission (CVT), which in effect has an unlimited number of gears to help improve fuel efficiency.

The hybrid e-Power model combines a 1.5-litre petrol engine with an electric motor. Unusually for a hybrid, the electric motor powers the wheels all of the time, with the petrol engine acting as a generator. While driving, it feels like an electric car, although its fuel economy and CO2 emissions are similar to many other SUVs with a petrol engine.

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