UK Drive: A refreshed engine line-up keeps the Nissan Qashqai up with the best
Ryan Hirons sees if the Nissan Qashqai’s refreshed engine line-up has what it takes to keep the SUV as a UK favourite
What is it?
One of the UK’s favourite cars, the Nissan Qashqai, has seen an all-new line-up of engines freshly introduced. Thanks to the Nissan-Renault-Mitsubishi Alliance’s partnership with Daimler (the parent firm of Mercedes-Benz), a co-developed 1.3-litre petrol engine now takes centre stage at the core of its range.
It’s already seen action in a number of cars across the partnered firms. In the British-built SUV, Nissan promises this will bring a more enjoyable and more efficient driving experience. We’ve already put it through its paces on Spanish roads earlier this year, but how will it fare in the UK?
As mentioned, the key addition for this slightly refreshed Qashqai is that 1.3-litre petrol engine. Available in both 138bhp and 158bhp forms, it aims to bring CO2 emissions for the car down, while also improving the driving experience. Also new in terms of powertrain is a seven-speed dual-clutch gearbox — the first to appear outside of the firm’s GT-R sports car.
It’s not all about what’s happening under the bonnet, though. Inside the car, a completely reworked NissanConnect infotainment system features — bringing a new look, improved usability and even the option to set up navigational routes in the car before starting a journey using a mobile app.
What’s under the bonnet?
Powering our test car is the new 1.3-litre petrol engine, developing 158bhp and 270Nm of torque in this guise. Paired up to the new dual-clutch transmission, it sends that power to the front wheels — resulting in a 0-60mph time of 9.7 seconds and a top speed of 124mph. As for efficiency, Nissan claims 51.4mpg and 122g/km on the combined cycle.
It’s a perfect pairing for the car and engine. Power delivery is consistent across the rev range, and its output feels just about right for a car of this calibre. It well refined too, with little noise coming into the cabin at even high speeds. The new transmissions work well when up to speed, offering smooth changes, but is hampered by a delayed response when pulling from a stop.
What’s it like to drive?
Little has been changed about the mechanics of the Qashqai, so it remains as easy to drive as ever. Steering is well-weighted for its purpose and offers a surprising amount of feedback for a car in this class.
Head into town and great all-around visibility paired with that finely-tuned steering means it’s easy to get around even the tightest of streets, ideal for a car that’s likely to spend the majority of its lifetime in the urban jungle. Motorways are not a problem, either. It offers a relaxed, smooth ride — even on UK roads — and offers a good level of refinement.
How does it look?
Refreshes usually tend to bring some visual changes to a car, but not here. Having last been facelifted in 2017, Nissan hasn’t felt the need to remix the Qashqai’s aesthetic — and that’s no bad thing.
It remains a sharp looking thing thanks to the firm’s angular corporate design, headed up by sharp LED headlights — with that theme continued on the rear units too. It’s not going to stand out, especially as there are so many Qashqais on UK roads, but it continues to be one of the better-looking cars within its segment.
What’s it like inside?
The cabin also remains fairly similar to before. In Tekna guise as tested, part-leather trim gives a premium-feel to the interior while its electrically-adjustable seats are comfortable to spend a good amount of time in. There’s also a limited number of scratchy plastics to be found throughout the cabin, which is refreshing for a car in this segment.
From a practicality standpoint, it retains a 430-litre boot capacity. It lags behind rivals on that front, with the likes of the Vauxhall Grandland X and Mazda CX-5 boasting 514 and 506 litres respectively.
What’s the spec like?
In Tekna form, standard equipment on the Qashqai includes part-leather interior trim, 19-inch alloy wheels, a panoramic glass roof, automatic LED headlights, a heated windscreen, an eight-speaker Bose audio system plus the refreshed NissanConnect infotainment system. It’s priced at a hefty £29,445 — although with the range starting at £19,995, there’s room to sacrifice options.
We’ll focus on that revamped infotainment system. With new TomTom navigation software, plus 3D mapping, it’s a vast improvement over the old version — which had long felt outdated and clunky compared with rival software. With over-the-air software updated plus support for both Android Auto and Apple CarPlay, it looks set to keep up with the pack for the foreseeable future too.
There’s no reason why the revamped Nissan Qashqai shouldn’t continue to be one of the UK’s best sellers. It retains the quality and usability as before but builds on that with a more efficient and engaging choice of engines. That new NissanConnect system takes it up another notch too, becoming much more user-friendly and future-proofed than its predecessors.
While it’d be a lot to expect improved practicality at this stage of the Qashqai’s life-cycle, there’s certainly a case to be made for its successor to boast a larger boot. We’d also like to see the dual-clutch gearbox offer a little more versatility.
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