Nissan Qashqai SUV - Engines, drive & performance (2013-2021)

The Nissan Qashqai offers a pair of smooth diesel engines, comfortable suspension and predictable handling

Carbuyer Rating

3.3 out of 5

Engines, drive & performance Rating

3.5 out of 5

The Nissan Qashqai is surprisingly entertaining to drive on a twisty road thanks to suspension that resists body lean and steering that has enough weight to avoid feeling twitchy. Some of this came courtesy of the 2017 update, which brought mechanical as well as aesthetic enhancements. With attention paid to Qashqai’s suspension and steering, it feels sharp when turning into corners and can deal with rough surfaces without fidgeting.

All models employ technical wizardry to improve stability through bends by braking each wheel separately, while Active Ride Control automatically uses the brakes to cleverly reduce the up-and-down motion you get when driving over bumps. The result is that even if you choose to fit larger alloy wheels (19-inch rims are offered on the N-Motion model), the Qashqai rides well in most situations, but still can’t deliver the feel an enthusiastic driver would want. The Nissan's raised ride height also gives you a good view of the road ahead, as well as a little extra agility on uneven road surfaces.

Nissan's ProPilot driver assistance package is engaged by a single steering-wheel button and operates in similar fashion to adaptive cruise control – you simply select your desired speed and set the technology working. Using radar and cameras, it maintains a safe distance from the car in front, and also steers to keep in your chosen motorway lane. The traffic jam pilot feature can bring the car to a halt, too, and pull away again when the queue starts to move.

What impresses is how gentle its steering and brake inputs are. Compared to some systems, it doesn't react as sharply or intrusively to the movements of other traffic – you can tell that it reads the road a good distance ahead and never seems 'surprised'. Of course, you have to keep your hands on the wheel and must still pay attention to the road, but it makes long motorway journeys far more relaxing.

Petrol engines

Nissan's 1.3-litre petrol engine might seem a little on the small side for a crossover of this size, but they’re more than adequate for most drivers, offering 138 or 158bhp. Even the entry-level version will prove powerful enough for most drivers. In fact, the small performance gain on the road of the 158bhp engine probably isn't worth the extra outlay, which is better spent on a higher trim level or extra kit. With 25bhp more power than the old 1.2-litre petrol, this engine is nippy as well as thrifty.

The entry-level 138bhp petrol is only available with a six-speed manual gearbox and acceleration from 0-62mph takes 10.5 seconds. Go for the more powerful 158bhp engine, and a seven-speed dual-clutch automatic gearbox is fitted, managing 0-62mph in 9.9 seconds. Every version of the Qashqai is now only available with front-wheel drive.

Nissan Qashqai diesel engines

From the end of 2020, Nissan discontinued all variations of the diesel Qashqai.

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