It’s intriguing to see how the other half live, or in this case, 90%. You see I have never really owned a brand-new best seller. My route to car ownership is through either someone else’s old knacker, or a brand-new steed paid for by an employer. So here I’ am handed a best seller, and a mould-breaker to boot. The 2006 Qashqai replaced not one, but four ill-conceived Nissans. In one fell-swoop the anaemic Almera, terrible Terrano, parlous Primera and tawdry Tino were supplanted by a fresh crossover-esque product with pleasing abilities at a keen price. It was an audacious move to shun the Focus/Mondeo establishment and with time the move has proven to be fruitful, with the rebel Q earning the nickname ‘Cashcow’.
The second generation Q has been around for 18months now and what a looker it is. Over the front wheelarches Nissan’s Paddington sculptors have moulded a clamshell bonnet onto a curvaceous front wing. The wider wheelbase and lower ride height lend it a stronger stance than both the gawky Hyundai i35 and somewhat strange Honda CRV. The unpainted mouldings give it an air of go-anywhere without it becoming a Nissan Patrol too. Looks are subjective but this is a fine effort indeed.
The n-tec+ is a new model to follow the latest trend of having wheels painted to make them look as if they were forged. The black paint offers a sharp contrast around the spokes, alluding to finer detailing. I’m not convinced and prefer the wheels from the model above.
Once aboard I found one of the most comfortable seats this side of a Jaguar XJ. Apparently the perches are inspired by NASA. The last time a PR uttered these words was for the suspension on the 1995 Rover 400. Nissan’s claim is far more convincing, as its engineers studied body-posture in a zero-gravity environment to create a seat that supports the hips up to the back far better than the average throne. Away from the range of adjustments on offer, the seats are good enough for the office and at the pub. Try them now… I urge you.
The dashboard is an upgrade from the last generation car, with finer polymeric grades and textures. The centre is wide, though, requiring a reach forward from that lovely seat to access the airvents and touchscreen.
Nissan’s ‘Safety Shield’ Forward Emergency Braking, Driver Attention Alert and Traffic Sign Recognition aid the myopic, and just as well too. Traffic rumble strips and speed humps are so well isolated that the driver needs extra warning aids should he/she fall asleep in that comfortable seat.
Those behind the passenger may face a hole (cubby, sir) where the top-model’s airvents are situated, but benefit from a welcoming bench with ample room for elbows. The variable load-area floor offers space to store the parcel shelf when not in use, and there are 16 combinations for the boot should the passengers be accompanied by their kit and caboodle. I tried two modes: removable lid ‘up’ and lid ‘down’. I predict that two more combos are already in use: ‘lid lost’, and ‘lid in garage by the door’.
This example was pulled along by the ubiquitous Renault 1.5dci engine, providing a muted castanet soundtrack up front. Upon a 6am start there were few unwanted vibrations that afflict most oil burners, and no droning or boominess that I am used to from BMW’s latest. The refined 1.5 dCi emits just 99grams of carbon dioxide per kilometre, which is admirable when you consider the specsheet below. It’s supposed to be frugal too with a claimed 74.3mpg. In reality the Q managed 48mpg in my hands, and while it performed against expectations the lack of throttle response and turbo-lag made for slow off-the-mark starts.
Perhaps Nissan knows something here, as its hill-start technology reduces the need for the over-revving and clutch-riding while the driver fathoms the electronic handbrake function. Under load, I noticed a small movement in the gearlever, a trait reminiscent of old Renaults. Speaking of which the Qashqai’s French sister, the bizarrely named Kadjar, will arrive in Renault dealers soon, and it too won’t need any luck in climbing up the sales charts
This is not a car to induce lift-off oversteer, nor does it need to be the most alert for trackday wheelsmiths. The steering’s two settings are ‘finger-light’ and light, and ‘Active trace control’ helps the car maintain its line through the bends by avoiding too much understeer. Not that you’d feel anything through the steering wheel anyway as the steering is not tuned for the roadtester. The twist-beam rear suspension and ‘Active ride control’ iron out the craters yet roll is minimised and body control hunkered down thanks to ‘Active Chassis Control’.
For your £24000 you do not get leather seats or a two-tone horn. Otherwise you get EVERYTHING. I could mention many more three letter acronyms (TFT monitor, Daytime Running Lights) but you’ve probably got the gist by now. Do you need ambient interior lighting? It’ll probably depend upon your mood, which could turn sour when you discover the Dacia-like horn. Two-tone please, Nissan. Please?
AUTOBRITANNIA.NET RATING: 9/10
The Qashqai is Britain’s fourth best seller, hovering around the Golf, Focus, Astra and the Mercedes C-Class (with which the Q shares its 1.6dci engine. Am sensing a UK market takeover here). While the Q left me comfortably numb, it looks brilliant and has an intimidating specification sheet. All it needs is an up-to-date engine and err a two-tone horn, items that could help propel it further up the sales charts. Did I mention the sumptuous seats at all?
Model Tested: Nissan Qashqai n-tec+
Produced By: Nissan Motor Manufacturing Sunderland
Price As Tested: £24000
Engine: 1461cc 8v turbodiesel 4-cyl, 109bhp @ 4000rpm, 192lb ft @ 1750-2500rpm
Gearbox: 6-speed manual gearbox
Performance*: Max speed of 113mph, 0-62mph in 11.9seconds
Maximum Emissions: 99g/km
Economy: 74.3mpg combined (47mpg actual)
Suspension: (Front) MacPherson strut with Rigid Mounting Mini Sub frame (Rear) Twist beam
Brakes: All round discs, ABS with EBD and brake assist
Cargo Space: 430ltrs
*Claimed data from manufacturers
Equipment Highlights: Where do we start? Smart vision pack, ‘hill start assist’ and a low-missions engine. First-class seats…
So… What’s Hot: Seats inspired by NASA – Relaxed and comfortable – Superlative refinement – Attractive
And… What’s Not: Throttle response and turbo-lag make for unhurried starts – Steering – That horn…
For more information on the Nissan Qashqai CLICK HERE