This new generation Nissan Qashqai is as British as a Mini or a Morgan.
Designed in London at Nissan’s design centre near Paddington, engineered at Nissan’s technical centre in Cranfield, Beds, and built at the famous Sunderland factory.
Built at the rate of one a minute, no less. Amazing, as is the statistic that one in five new cars made in Britain since 2007 have been a Qashqai – and it remains the market leader since it was launched in 2006.
So what’s changed for this third-generation model? Virtually everything. It’s 35mm longer, 32mm wider and 10mm higher, resulting in 28mm extra rear knee room for rear-seat passengers and a larger 504-litre boot.
It has a bigger body, but weighs 60kg less due to the use of aluminium for the bonnet, doors and front wings, and composite materials for the rear tailgate.
I have always thought the Qashqai has rather bland styling. This one is a huge improvement with cleaner lines and subtle detailing. It’s more like the crossovers that Peugeot has made over the last few years.
What isn’t new are the power choices under the bonnet. The diesel engine has got the sack so now all Qashqais are powered by the existing 1.3-petrol engine with either 138 or 156bhp.
The former comes only with the six-speed manual gearbox and front-wheel drive, whereas the latter is available with the manual or a new CVT automatic gearbox, as well as a four-wheel-drive option.
As 4WD variants account for only 2% of sales it’s surprising Nissan bothers, although that’s 2% of a large number. The powertrain includes mild hybrid tech in the form of an integrated starter/generator, with 12 volts not 48v to save weight.
Next year a rather more green powertrain called E-Power will feature a petrol that drives a generator. This, in turn, charges a battery which powers an electric motor that drives the wheels. It’ll feel like an EV to drive.
The new body is 48% stiffer to make the car feel more solid.
There’s little road noise, no squeaks or rattles and it’s a comfy ride. Nissan now uses a liquid sound-deadening material sprayed on to the chassis and it clearly does a good job.
We drove a selection of Qashqais which were all powered by the 156bhp engine. I suspect it will be the preferred choice over the 138bhp unit, especially for those with a large family who drive well loaded.
The all-new CVT transmission is also much improved over the old version. If you accelerate hard from rest the revs still ‘whoop’, but go steady and it performs like a standard automatic. I’d have the CVT over the manual option, and if you want the ProPILOT system, which features active cruise control and lane-keeping, you have to opt for the CVT box.
Nissan asked its European Qashqai owners about digital screens where all adjustments to functions are made. Customers said no thanks, and if they’d asked me I’d have said the same.
So the third-generation Qashqai has simple controls that include a neat arrangement on the steering wheel. On top-spec models wireless Apple CarPlay is provided, and a Bose stereo. The interior trim is improved too.
The boot is bigger but retains useful wipe-clean floor boards so you can fit them furry-side down for muddy kit. A nice solution.
The range starts at £23,535 for the Visia with its manual gearbox and lower powered engine plus small wheels with hubcaps – Nissan will not sell many of these. The N-Connecta, at £29,025, is a good compromise but with excellent residual values, the upper grade Tekna and Tekna+ are good bets too.
Whatever your choice, if you’re upgrading from the current Qashqai you will find yourself in a hugely improved new model.
Nissan Qashqai Tekna five-door crossover
Engine: 1.3-litre four-cylinder, 156bhp
Fuel consumption: 44.1mpg
Hyundai Tucson N Line
All-new Tucson is very much like the Qashqai: straightforward, well made and practical.
Renault Kadjar GT Line
Not bad value but a rather underwhelming car. Not Renault’s finest effort.
Skoda Karoq SportLine
Well-equipped, sound value and appealing in this specification.