Walk down any street in the UK and you’re no doubt going to spot a Nissan Qashqai — if not several. Since its introduction in 2006, the SUV has proven to be a favourite among British buyers, thanks to great value, a good-quality interior and a surprisingly dynamic driving experience.
Now late into its second-generation, Nissan has decided to give the car a revamp by way of a new engine line-up. A 1.3-litre petrol unit joins the range, developed alongside Daimler (the parent company of Mercedes-Benz) as part of the Nissan-Renault-Mitsubishi Alliance. It’s featured in a number of cars among the firm already, but how does it fare in the Qashqai?
Available in both 138bhp and 158bhp configurations, it’s the latter of the new 1.3-litre variants we got behind the wheel of. It also develops 270Nm of torque, sent to the front wheels via an all-new dual-clutch gearbox — the first of its kind to appear on a non-GT-R Nissan. As a result, the 0-60mph sprint is covered in 9.7 seconds with a top speed of 124mph possible.
It’s a successful combination, proving to be a perfect match. Power is plentiful enough and is delivered consistently across the rev range. That said, it is hindered slightly by the new dual-clutch transmissions — which works fine when up to speed but feels delayed when pulling away from a stop.
Ride & Handling
This refresh of the Nissan Qashqai hasn’t done anything to change the mechanicals of the car outside of its new engine line-up and remains easy and fun to drive thanks to that. Steering is well-weighted enough for it be entertaining on an open, twisty road — but also allows it to be easily manoeuvred around town, which is where many Qashqais will spend their lives.
It’s not fazed by motorways, either. It rides smoothly and noise in the cabin is minimal, creating a relaxing experience behind the wheel.
Interior & Equipment
Not much has been changed inside the new Nissan Qashqai either — meaning there’s still seating for five and a sense of real quality in the build of the cabin. The 430 litre boot space remains.
There is one huge difference in the car itself though — and that’s the infotainment. A new, overhauled version of NissanConnect takes centre stage here — boasting a vastly improved user interface, upgraded TomTom navigation with 3D mapping and over-the-air updates to ensure its up-to-date at all times. It’s so much better to use than its predecessor, and too supports Android Auto and Apple CarPlay, for those who prefer to use those particular systems.
In Tekna form, as tested here, standard equipment includes part-leather interior trim, 19-inch alloy wheels, a panoramic glass roof, automatic LED headlights, a heated windscreen, an eight-speaker Bose sound system and the new NissanConnect system.
In this spec, the Nissan Qashqai costs a fairly chunky £29,445, but the entire range starts from a reasonable £19,995 if you’re willing to sacrifice some luxuries and opt for the lower engine output.
As for efficiency, Nissan claims 51.4mpg on the combined cycle with CO2 emissions coming in at 122g/km. Insurance groups range from 14-21, meaning premiums should be pretty affordable for most.See available Qashqai deals
With this new engine line-up, there are all the credentials for the Nissan Qashqai to remain king of the UK SUV market. It combines quality and a great driving experience, plus a good level of value on lower-spec models — even if the price does get hefty on higher trims.
We’re also huge fans of the revamped NissanConnect system, which promises only to get better with time thanks to its over-the-air update ability.