Nissan’s saviour, the Qashqai, has sold in colossal numbers. After spending a few hours behind the wheel its easy to see why. Not a car to set the soul on fire, but it just gets on with the job with no complaints… and with none coming from the occupants either!
Qashqai is by far Nissans fastest selling vehicle. To put things into perspective, global production has exceeded 2.5 million units with almost one million coming from the British plant in Sunderland. A Qashqai rolls out of the UK plant approximately every 62 seconds and this record betters historical vehicles including the Ford Cortina and BMC’s 1100/1300 ranges – both of which were number one sellers in the United Kingdom. But surely such an incredibly popular car must have some very special qualities to make such an impact on a global scale?
The keyword is competence and after worthy but bland models like the Almera and Primera, the Qashqai was very much a case of being the right product at the right time. So… after spending a week with the range topping Tekna with the 110Ps 1.5 diesel engine, is it clear to see why the Qashqai is so staggeringly popular?
The current model which is now into its second generation still looks bold and smart – its certainly much easier on the eye than its smaller sibling – the Juke. Being designed and engineered in both London and Cranfield in Bedfordshire, its very much UK orientated for our home market. My usual walk around and close inspection upon delivery discovered impressive fit and finishes of the metalwork and paint. Despite how fast these things can be assembled you will have no worries about quality – our British workers do a first class job… and its so obvious to see.
A peer inside finds an imposing dashboard with sensible ergonomics and of course, being an SUV, the driving position leans towards a lofty with a good and clear commanding view ahead. Worthy of note are the seats, orthopedically designed with good quality leather featuring a pleasant contrasting stitching detail. These front seats are some of the finest I have experienced – all aspects of comfort are just right and on this Tekna model all adjustments bar the lumbar support are electronically controlled. Head and leg room in both front and back is pretty good – four on board can relax with room to spare.
Convenience for clutter is catered for with a huge glove box, decent door bins and some hidden storage under the front armrest. Rear seats fold in the usual 60/40 manner but as with so many other hatchbacks these days, the seats don’t fold to reveal a flat floor. Unlike a Honda CR-V, the Qashqai doesn’t feature boot mounted handles to make seat folding easier and quicker, you still have to open a door or lean forward to release the catches. But once dropped down you have well over 850 litres of space – more than enough for the weekly Waitrose adventure.
Out and about finds the 1.5 diesel a little lacking in 110Ps flavour, its okay once the revs are up but torque drops off rather quickly at low engine speeds and this is really noticeable on hilly roads with a full quota of passengers. It is refined though – so long as you avoid Santa Pod style acceleration the Renault sourced power unit remains hushed and refined… especially on the motorway. Rough roads tend to make the car fidget around however and concrete motorways bring some roar into the cabin – you can blame the 19″ road wheels for that, otherwise it rides and drives rather well.
Road holding is controlled and safe mannered. Despite the steering lacking real feel at the rim, it weights up notably when cornering. Quick or spirited changes in direction can be done in confidence with barely any body roll and the brakes offer plenty of reserve anchorage. Add the aforementioned to its slick and light gearshift and you have a car that is utterly simple and easy to roll around in. Visibility is notably hampered, especially when parking by thick A pillars and that up swinging rear 3/4 window design, but this is offset by the virtual 360 degree camera function on the infotainment unit making parking a breeze.
Some things aren’t so pleasing however. The plastic on the floor console tray ahead of the gear lever and the 12v charging socket cover are so cheap feeling it could almost induce a small tear to the eye. The piano black effect around the audio system looks like it could scratch very easily too and I noticed glare from the instruments and infotainment in the windows at night unless you dim them right down. But as you can tell, there is little to point and yell at the Qashqai about. Its sensible, reasonably practical and easy to drive… all in all a thoroughly competent package all round.
AUTOBRITANNIA.NET RATING: 8/10
THE HUMBLE OPINION
Its easy to see why the Qashqai has sold in silly numbers, it just gets on with the job. Unlike Nissan cars of yore, it wont bore you into a coma thanks to its keen chassis, good brakes and smart interior in Tekna form. Everyone who jumped in mentioned how nice it travelled and my other half remarked how well it drove after barely half a mile down the road.
Good fuel economy and decent emissions also are to be found, but personally I would chose the 130Ps model for that extra get up and go when required. In Tekna trim its well equipped but slightly expensive too though I would choose this model – those graphite leather seats look, smell and feel superb… just haggle for some extra discount at the dealer by putting on your best sad hard up face!
To conclude, the Qashqai doesn’t excel in any particular area… but there again it doesn’t disappoint or compromise the driver or passengers neither. As an all around package the numbers and the models global success add up and its the car others follow in this class. Economical, refined, well equipped and generally well made – right here in the UK too.
Not perfect… but just right!
Also worthy of note is Nissan marking 30 years of UK car manufacture in 2016…. Congratulations Sunderland!
MODEL TESTED: Nissan Qashqai 1.5 dCi 110 Tekna
Produced By: Nissan Manufacturing UK Sunderland
Price: £26,460 (excluding options)
Driveline: Nissan / Renault K9K 1.5 turbo D with 6 speed manual gearbox
Power / Torque: 110Ps with 260Nm
Performance: 0 – 60 in 11.8 seconds (max 113mph*)
Economy: *70.6mpg combined (61.8mpg on test)
Co2/VED: 103G/Km = Band B
* Govt or manufacturers claimed data
WHATS HOT: Stylish – Drives well – Good handling – Well equipped – Refined when cruising – Simple to own – Comfortable seats – Infotainment / SatNav easy to operate – Good fuel economy – Smart looking interior – Effective climate control.
WHATS NOT: Rear seats don’t fold fully flat – Some minor trim feels awfully cheap – Tekna model is on the expensive side – Low down torque falls off very quickly on hills – Some reflections from piano black effect dash trim in bright daylight and from instrument cluster at night – Ride can get jittery at low speeds and noisy on rough roads.
For more information on the Nissan Qashqai CLICK HERE