We drove the new Nissan Qashqai: better looks, upgraded cabin, smooth performance…

The Qashqai is a very important car for Nissan, and it enters now its third generation. Consequently, the engineers and designers pulled all the stops. Keeping the car very recognisable as a Qashqai, the designers gave the car nevertheless a contemporary look with headlights stretching all to the sides, emphasising the familiar “V” pattern on the grille, putting some clean, sharp styling accents on the sides, and finishing it all in a very well proportioned rear end.

The suspension has also been redesigned and the drivetrains have been reworked too. You will not see a Diesel engine anymore in this Qashqai, only 1,3 liter petrol engines with mild electrification, awaiting a full hybrid version around the middle of this year.

We found this latest generation Qashqai elegant, refined, and convincing with nice upmarket touches, just read on…

Hans Knol ten Bensel

Gained in panache and elegance, but not so much in size…

The new Qashqai grew hardly bigger: it grew only 3,5 cm longer and a good 3 cm larger. But the wheelbase gained some 2 centimeters, which gives you more legroom in the rear. As we said, the elegant presence and stylish proportions of the car have been greatly improved. Luggage space varies between 436 and 504 liters, depending how you use the boot panels, which can make a level luggage floor,or not. Indeed, two panels are available to make a continuous flat floor, and these panels can also be used to divide up the luggage space to prevent things from sliding around. Nissan also lowered the luggage floor for easier loading.

Interior and dashboard with premium touches…

Instrumentation is fully digital in the top equipment version we tested, and the design of the dash with its curvacious stitched leather surfaces is decidedly elegant and upmarket. Also the seats in our test car had a premium look and feel with their nice stitching on the seat cushions and backrests.

One finds quite improved soft padding and materials in the dashboard and interior, and one is happy to see a good array of knobs, which make this Qashqai intuitive to use.

Indeed, the heating/ventilation can still be set with thse classic knobs, and below the touchscreen one finds a nice array of knobs too. Also the tactile feeling of these knobs and functions, indeed everything you feel and press, feels solid and well finished.

The infotainment system coming with the higher equipment levels is outstanding, also the digital instruments read well and are elegant. What to think of the 9 inch touchscreen, wireless Apple CarPlay, etc. There are also two sorts of USB ports for connectivity, USB C-type and the classic ones, and these are provided in the front as well as in the back.

The Qashqai has practical touches too: the rear doors open to almost 90 degrees actually, which is excellent for loading baby seats, toddlers…

We also liked very much the very legible head up display, and many will also appreciate that Google Assistant and Amazon Alexa can be connected to the Nissan system.

Map information can now also be updated “Over the Air”. Of course, all the usual assistance systems are on board. It even uses map information in the cruise control modus, and will slow you down in bends…

Smooth 1,3 litre petrol engines.

There are no diesel engines available anymore for the new Qashqai. Only supersmooth 1,3 litre petrol engines, developing 140 or 158 HP. Both engines are assisted by an integrated starter generator. The Qashqai is therefore a mild hybrid so to say. The Qashqai cannot move on pure electric power, but its engine is assisted by the starter/generator motor, and one feels clearly the extra push when driving away from standstill.

Only the 158 HP engine is offered when you opt for the X-Tronic automatic transmission. This is a CVT type box, but its artificial seven gears prevent the engine from revving too high under full throttle. Even under spirited driving, the Qashqai remains quiet and subdued. The electronic motor assistance sets in harmoniously from standstill, by the way. The drivetrain is very refined indeed, enhancing the premium feel of this Qashqai.

The revised suspension also pleased us. Comfortable, it coped quite well with uneven urban pavés, staying still a bit firm at slower speeds, but for an SUV quite comfortable nonetheless. The steering is light and also now more direct. This Qashqai is even more relaxing to drive than its predecessor.

Good performance

Performance is smooth and leaves nothing to be desired. 0 to 100 km/h is absolved in 9,2 seconds and top speed is 199 km/h. Driving leisurely with this 1468 kg Qashqai will let you reach consumption levels between 6 and 7 liters, but as soon as you move with more zest, the consumption goes up by one liter. According to WLTP norm, the average consumption is 6,4 liter/100 km.

Full hybrid “E-Power”fro the Qashqai will be expected around the middle of this year. Then a 154 HP 1,5 litre petrol engine will be coupled to a quite zesty 140 kW electric motor. The front wheels will exclusively be driven by this electric motor, the petrol engine will only generate the electricity.

This will allow the petrol engine to operate always in ideal conditions, and the Qashqai will accelerate and have the pleasant responsiveness of a “pure” EV. We will be keen to drive this car as soon as it arrives, of course…

Conclusion

The Qashqai has decidedly carved a nice niche for itself in the European compact SUV market. The third generation is even more mature, stylish and refined. The finish and the equipment in the higher level versions is decidedly upmarket, the infotainment is lavish and future proof. The Qashqai is comfortable, practical and also a lively performer, relaxing to drive and supersmooth.  All the good qualities of a bestseller, which it will continue to be…

Hans Knol ten Bensel

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