New hybrid Nissan Qashqai unveiled

New Qashqai SUV boasts a striking design and improved driver assistance features

  • Familiar Qashqai styling is modernised
  • Hybrid and mild-hybrid engines
  • Plenty of driver assistance tech

The wraps have come off the new Nissan Qashqai SUV. While clearly related to previous generations, the new car gets a bold new face that’s dominated by C-shaped LED headlight clusters. The Qashqai has grown slightly, improving space inside, and the tech onboard has been upgraded.

Prices and specifications are yet to be revealed but we expect the car to start at around £25,000 when it goes on sale later in the year. The Qashqai will renew its rivalry with other family SUVs such as the Ford Kuga, SEAT Ateca and Peugeot 3008.

All models are set to get an electrified powertrain, with a mild-hybrid petrol engine and a full hybrid ‘e-Power’ version that’s said to feel like a purely electric car without the need to plug in.

New 2021 Nissan Qashqai styling

The new model gets a similar V-shaped grille to the outgoing car, but the new headlights and other styling changes will give it an eye-catching design. It looks more like the electric Nissan Ariya than the smaller Nissan Juke. There are new alloy wheel designs, up to 20 inches in size for the first time, and an extended paint palette. You can choose 11 colours and add a contrasting roof colour with five of them.

The rear end looks similar in shape to the current model but there are reshaped brake light clusters, a flatter tailgate and a new rear bumper. Picking the largest 20-inch wheels means you also get upgraded multi-link rear suspension.

Engines

From launch, the only available engine will be a 1.3-litre petrol engine. It’s carried over from the current Qashqai but gains mild-hybrid technology, which should slightly lower fuel consumption and emissions. A small battery stores energy usually lost during braking and uses it to assist the petrol engine when accelerating (between 12 and 68mph). Fuel consumption figures have yet to be confirmed but the current car manages around 40mpg. Nissan has confirmed that the new engine produces 4g/km less carbon dioxide than the last-generation Qashqai.

The petrol engine is available with either 138bhp or 156bhp. Both get a six-speed manual gearbox but you can opt for a CVT automatic gearbox and four-wheel drive on the latter. We’re told that both gearboxes have been improved, while updates have also been made to reduce friction and improve turbo response.

e-Power hybrid

The e-Power hybrid drivetrain consists of a large battery and an electric motor that produces similar power to the one in the electric Nissan Leaf, plus a 155bhp 1.5-litre petrol engine. Unlike a normal hybrid, the petrol engine is used as a generator to power the motor, which drives the wheels. It’s said to feel like an electric car in terms of its seamless acceleration, and with 187bhp on tap it should get off the line pretty quickly. You can drive it on one pedal, like the Leaf, because one of the brake regeneration settings allows you to slow the car down by just coming off the accelerator.

Nissan says it ‘accelerates quicker than hybrid rivals’, but plug-in hybrid SUVs will be more efficient. Initial figures suggest it’ll return 53mpg. This engine will be available to buy in 2022.

Prices and specs

The trim levels are likely to match the current Nissan Juke line-up, with an entry-level Visia spec joined by Acenta, N-Connecta and Tekna trim levels. LED headlights, lane-keeping assistance, cruise control and a reversing camera should all be fitted as standard, while high-spec cars will get self-parking assistance and a premium sound system.

Interior

The new Qashqai will come with a thoroughly overhauled cabin. A large, glossy touchscreen now sits at the top of the dashboard, instead of in the middle of the centre console. Rather than a clutter of shortcut buttons around the edges, the new nine-inch infotainment system relies on tiles on the screen - although some useful physical buttons remain underneath.

It introduces wireless Apple CarPlay alongside the existing Android Auto software, offers wifi for up to seven devices and comes with a range of online features - including live traffic updates - although these may only be available on higher-spec versions.

The climate control panel has been redesigned but we’re pleased to see that it remains a very analogue system with physical buttons. One aspect that has become digital is the 12.3-inch instrument cluster, which boasts relevant driving information as well as sat-nav guidance. Other high-spec kit available includes a Bose sound system, massaging front seats, a large wireless phone charging pad and a 10.8-inch head-up display, which Nissan says is the biggest fitted to any medium-size SUV.

There’s still a lot of hard-looking plastic dotted around but we expect the Qashqai’s interior to feel slightly more upmarket thanks to wood-effect trim on the centre console, lots of chrome, and an illuminated strip around the gear lever and the driving mode selector.

Practicality

The new Qashqai is 35mm longer and 30mm wider than the last Qashqai, so it’s perhaps unsurprising that practicality has improved. Rear-seat passengers get 22mm more knee room, while both rows benefit from around 15mm extra headroom. Nissan has relocated the cupholders so you’re less likely to knock drinks over when changing gear, and it has kept the last model’s reversible boot floor. Luggage capacity has grown by 74 litres, so its 504-litre space is now competitive with some of the bigger SUVs in the class.

Want to know more about the current Nissan Qashqai? Check out our review, or see how it compares to the best SUVs you can buy right now.

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