In-depth reviews

Nissan Qashqai SUV review

“The new Nissan Qashqai improves on the old model in all the right areas”

Carbuyer Rating

3.9 out of 5

Pros

  • Improved infotainment system
  • Practical
  • Stylish

Cons

  • Hybrid not available yet
  • Average warranty
  • Some fuzzy screen graphics

The Nissan Qashqai needs little introduction. It almost single-handedly popularised the family SUV and, despite a vast range of rivals, the Qashqai is still one of the best-selling cars in the UK. It’s almost become the default family car, while also appealing to people who want a little more space and a higher ride height than a traditional hatchback.

Nissan will hope that this latest Qashqai continues the success of its predecessors. The manufacturer has updated the formula with sharper styling and a much more modern infotainment system. It has also brought the Qashqai’s engine range up to date, with a new petrol engine featuring mild-hybrid electrical assistance and an ‘e-Power’ hybrid model joining the lineup later this year.

Prices are still reasonable and extra space inside should make the Qashqai even better suited to families and outdoorsy types.

Top 10 best family SUVs 2021

The styling is familiar but smarter. There are sharp C-shaped LED headlights at the front, along with deep air vent slashes and a chromed-up version of Nissan’s V-Motion grille. A new two-tone roof option adds personality, and there are deep creases down each side. It arguably still looks conservative next to the new Hyundai Tucson but may steal admiring glances from drivers of other rival SUVs, including the SEAT Ateca, Kia Sportage and BMW X1.

Family resemblance to the new electric Nissan Ariya SUV is clear but the Qashqai doesn’t offer much in the way of electric power - yet. The only engine available from launch is a 1.3-litre petrol engine with mild-hybrid assistance, which was used in the previous model (albeit without the electrification). A clever hybrid model is coming in 2022 but, given how popular it’s likely to be, it’s a shame it’s not available immediately.

The Nissan Qashqai e-Power hybrid won’t have the market to itself, either, as the Ford Kuga, Honda CR-V and Toyota RAV4 are all available as hybrids. Nissan is promising that the Qashqai hybrid will feel different to drive than its rivals; it won’t need to be plugged in but will feel like an electric car in the way it drives. That’s thanks to the use of the petrol engine solely as a generator for the battery, with an electric motor driving the wheels.

It’s safe to say that the electrification will be more noticeable than it is in the mild-hybrid, which feels like a normal petrol engine most of the time. Fuel economy is around 10% better than the previous non-hybrid version, while performance is adequate rather than sparkling. A small weight reduction helps the Qashqai feel a bit more agile but it’s still not aimed at keen drivers. It’ll be absolutely fine for most buyers, especially as the engine is smooth and quiet.

The interior represents more of a step forward. Material quality has improved and so has the tech, with a new nine-inch touchscreen that’s faster and easier to use. Android Auto and wireless Apple CarPlay are available if you’d rather use your phone’s apps. A large digital instrument cluster is now fitted from N-Connecta trim and up, albeit with less crisp graphics than some of the systems we’ve seen.

N-Connecta is the third of six trim levels, and probably represents the best mix of value and equipment. Base-spec Visia is temptingly cheap but sparse (besides adaptive cruise control and rear parking sensors), missing out on a touchscreen and alloy wheels. Acenta Premium brings a rear-view camera, smartphone mirroring and two-zone air conditioning. Above N-Connecta, there’s the launch model called the Premiere Edition, plus Tekna and Tekna+. The latter brings big 20-inch alloy wheels, quilted leather seats (with massaging in the front) and a Bose sound system.

The improvement to tech up front is matched by more space in the back. Longer and wider than the model it replaces, the new Qashqai offers more rear legroom; shoulder room should be better too. There are more storage cubbies throughout the cabin and the boot is much larger than before. Its boot capacity ranges from 504 to 479 litres, making it competitive with some of the most practical medium-size SUVs in the class.

If you’re happy with the current Qashqai, chances are you’ll really like the new one. The improved practicality shows that Nissan knows what its customers want, and the slightly lower running costs are welcome too. Add in more eye-catching styling and an up-to-date infotainment system, and the Qashqai is ready to challenge the other big sellers in this class once again.

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