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Nissan Qashqai N-Connecta 1.6 DCi quick review: the ultimate crossover?

Nissan Qashqai N-Connecta 1.6 DCi quick review: the ultimate crossover?

Nissan Qashqai N-Connecta 1.6 DCi quick review: the ultimate crossover?

The Nissan Qashqai is often credited with being the car that started the crossover boom. It began in 2007, when the original Sunderland-built Qashqai replaced the more conventional Primera. It enjoyed huge success, hitting one million worldwide sales in 2011 – and smashing its target of 100,000 a year.

A replacement Qashqai was introduced in 2013 – and that’s the model we’re testing here. Does it deserve to be the huge success it’s proving to be, or is it living on a tidal wave of popularity triggered by its predecessor?

Prices and deals

The Nissan Qashqai starts at a very reasonable £18,545, but the high-spec turbodiesel N-Connecta will set you back a slightly more eye-watering £27,160. A search of online brokers suggests you can comfortably shave £4,000 off that price.

What are its rivals?

While Nissan can lay claim to having one of the first trendy new crossovers on the market, there’s no shortage of rivals available in 2016. There’s the affordable MG GS, good-value Hyundai Tucson and popular Kia Sportage – not to mention the Renault Kadjar, which shares a platform with the Qashqai. The SEAT Ateca is now on sale, and could also be a serious threat to the Qashqai.

What engine does it use?

What engine does it use?

There’s a range of petrol and diesel engines available in the Qashqai. The model we’re testing is the more powerful 130hp 1.6-litre dCi turbodiesel.

How fast?

Even with 20hp more than the lesser 1.5-litre diesel, the 1.6 isn’t a quick car – hitting 62mph in 9.9 seconds, and a top speed of 118mph. It’s plenty for a car such as this, though, and the manual gearbox is sharp enough that you don’t mind working through the gears to extract the best from the Qashqai.

Will I enjoy driving it?

The latest Qashqai isn’t as fun to drive as the original model, and those seeking thrills should look elsewhere. But it’s a refined and relaxing car to drive, with very few of the minor grievances that plague rival cars.

The electrically-assisted power steering provides confidence, while the Qashqai feels composed through corners. Road and wind noise are minimal, adding to the feeling that you could drive this all day without feeling stressed.

Fuel economy and running costs

Fuel economy and running costs

The 1.6-litre diesel returns 64.2mpg in the combined NEDC test. With a bit of effort, this is probably achievable, while mid-50s should be easily possible with sensible out-of-town driving.

What’s the interior like?

Bland, but robust, with everything where you’d expect it to be. The seating position is high up, giving you a good view of the road ahead – but equally, good visibility means it’s easy to drive around town. Despite a large infotainment screen in the middle of the dash (we’ll come to that shortly), there seem to be buttons everywhere in our high-spec model.

Is it comfortable?

It’s very easy to find a comfortable driving position in the Qashqai. The steering wheel adjusts back and forth – as well as up and down – while the seats offer plenty of adjustment. Legroom is also decent for front and rear passengers.

Is it practical?

Is it practical?

Unlike the previous model, the latest Qashqai is only available with five seats. It offers more space than a Golf, though – the attraction of a crossover for most – with 430 litres of boot space with the rear seats in place.

Tell me about the tech

The N-Connecta model tested here comes with Nissan’s seven-inch touchscreen infotainment system incorporating sat nav, DAB radio and smartphone integration. It’s a slick system to use, while Nissan’s fancy around-view monitor, standard on the N-Connecta, makes parking a breeze.

What about safety?

Nissan knows the Qashqai is popular with families, and it hasn’t scrimped on safety. On the N-Connecta you get lane departure and emergency braking systems as standard, not to mention driver, passenger, side and curtain airbags. It scored five stars for safety when NCAP tested it in 2014.

Which version should I go for?

Which version should I go for?

The high-spec N-Connecta on test here is a good choice if your budget stretches that far. However, the lower-spec Acenta offers good value for money, and the 1.5-litre diesel won’t leave most drivers feeling short-changed.

What’s the used alternative?

With a near-10-year production run so far, and the Qashqai’s popularity what it is, there’s no shortage of secondhand models on Auto Trader: more than 6,000, in fact. A £5,000 budget will get you a tidy early model from a dealer – we’d recommend a petrol engine at this age – while £14,000 buys a two-year-old second-generation model powered by the 1.5-litre diesel.

Should I buy one?

A Qashqai doesn’t make for an exciting purchase, but it is a really easy-to-live-with crossover that will tick all the boxes for many families. There are more interesting rivals out there, but the Qashqai is a quality all-round package.

Pub fact

Pub fact

The first Nissan to be built at the firm’s Sunderland plant was the 1986 Bluebird. In the plant’s first year, it produced just 5,139 cars. Last year, that number was 475,000, and it’s set to rise to more than 600,000 when the next-generation Qashqai and X-Trail enter production over the next few years.

Qash converter: Nissan creates world's largest 3D pen sculture

Qash converter: Nissan creates world's largest 3D pen sculpture

Qash converter: Nissan creates world's largest 3D pen scultureWe quite like the Qashqai, but we’d never call Nissan’s high-riding hatchback a work of art… until now.

Artists have created the world’s largest 3D pen sculpture: a full-size replica of the new Qashqai Black Edition. The car was ‘drawn’ using advanced 3Doodler pens and consists of more than 8.6 miles of plastic strands.

Pens are the latest tech from the 3D printing industry – expected to be worth £13 billion by 2020. They work by heating plastic to 230°C, then squeezing it through a 0.7mm nozzle as it cools. As such, they allow three-dimensional shapes to be drawn in the air.

Definitely not mass-producedQash converter: Nissan creates world's largest 3D pen sculture

Led by artist Grace Du Prez, the Qashqai sculpture took more than 800 man-hours to create. Compare that to the 58 Qashqais that emerge from Nissan’s Sunderland factory every hour.

Grace Du Prez said: “I’ve been drawing with 3Doodler’s pens for a few years now, but this is by far and away my most ambitious commission to date. It demonstrates how far 3D printing technology has come and how it can be used by anyone.”

Koji Nagano, Vice President, Nissan Design Europe, commented: “At Nissan we always encourage initiatives where design can be expressed through new and innovative technologies. This artistic team have certainly pushed the boundaries of 3D pen technology in creating an impressive sculpture of our premium Qashqai Black Edition.”

Paint it blackQash converter: Nissan creates world's largest 3D pen sculture

As for the real Nissan Qashqai Black Edition, that’s on sale now. Based on flagship Tekna model, it gets 19-inch alloys, a few subtle styling tweaks and the option of a panoramic glass sunroof. Can we have ours with a 3D-printed spoiler on the back? No, thought not…

Qash converter: Nissan creates world's largest 3D pen sculture

Qash converter: Nissan creates world’s largest 3D pen sculpture

Qash converter: Nissan creates world's largest 3D pen scultureWe quite like the Qashqai, but we’d never call Nissan’s high-riding hatchback a work of art… until now.

Artists have created the world’s largest 3D pen sculpture: a full-size replica of the new Qashqai Black Edition. The car was ‘drawn’ using advanced 3Doodler pens and consists of more than 8.6 miles of plastic strands.

Pens are the latest tech from the 3D printing industry – expected to be worth £13 billion by 2020. They work by heating plastic to 230°C, then squeezing it through a 0.7mm nozzle as it cools. As such, they allow three-dimensional shapes to be drawn in the air.

Definitely not mass-producedQash converter: Nissan creates world's largest 3D pen sculture

Led by artist Grace Du Prez, the Qashqai sculpture took more than 800 man-hours to create. Compare that to the 58 Qashqais that emerge from Nissan’s Sunderland factory every hour.

Grace Du Prez said: “I’ve been drawing with 3Doodler’s pens for a few years now, but this is by far and away my most ambitious commission to date. It demonstrates how far 3D printing technology has come and how it can be used by anyone.”

Koji Nagano, Vice President, Nissan Design Europe, commented: “At Nissan we always encourage initiatives where design can be expressed through new and innovative technologies. This artistic team have certainly pushed the boundaries of 3D pen technology in creating an impressive sculpture of our premium Qashqai Black Edition.”

Paint it blackQash converter: Nissan creates world's largest 3D pen sculture

As for the real Nissan Qashqai Black Edition, that’s on sale now. Based on flagship Tekna model, it gets 19-inch alloys, a few subtle styling tweaks and the option of a panoramic glass sunroof. Can we have ours with a 3D-printed spoiler on the back? No, thought not…

Nissan Sunderland

Nissan Qashqai: 0-2.3 million in 10 years

Nissan SunderlandThe Nissan Qashqai has become the highest-volume model ever built by the Japanese firm in Europe, after production at the Sunderland factory reached 2,368,704 units.

This breaks the previous ‘most-built’ European Nissan, the Micra – and it’s achieved this in just 10 years, almost half the time taken by the once-popular Nissan supermini.

Indeed, no UK-built car in history has ever gone from 0-2.3 million units so quickly.

The total continues to spiral too: because Nissan builds a staggering 1,200 Qashqai a day (with production around the clock since 2010), it had already reached nearly 2.4 million units by the end of February.

Colin Lawther, a Nissan Europe senior vice president, said: “The Qashqai created an entirely new segment when it was first launched and continues to set the standard in crossovers, supporting a record period of growth for Nissan in Europe.

“The Micra is an iconic model for Nissan in Europe, made for 18 years in our Sunderland plant. To overtake it in half the time shows just how quickly our European customers have taken Qashqai to their hearts.”

The efforts of Nissan Sunderland will be formally celebrated later in 2016 when the firm marks 30 years of the facility: after starting out building the Bluebird, today it makes the Qashqai, Juke, Note and LEAF, and more recently the Infiniti Q30.

New Renault Kadjar and the five crossovers it needs to beat

01_CrossoversThe crossover conundrum

Not to be confused with cross dressers, crossovers combine the affordable running costs of a hatchback with the pumped-up, steroidal styling of an SUV. The phenomenon was kick-started by the original Nissan Qashqai in 2006 and has proved irresistible to buyers. Crossovers now account for nearly a third of medium-sized car sales in Europe.

Unsurprisingly, other car manufacturers have been quick to follow Nissan’s lead, meaning an ever-growing degree of choice. There really is something for everyone here. We start our round-up with the latest contender for the crossover crown, the new Renault Kadjar. Then we look at five key rivals it needs to beat – including, of course, the ubiquitous Nissan Qashqai.

02_CrossoversRenault Kadjar

Best for: latest crossover on the block

The Qashqai proved that having an odd name is no barrier to sales sucess. That bodes well for the Kadjar, which is apparently named after the French terms for ‘quad’ and ‘agility’. So now you know. Renault’s new crossover shares its platform and engines with the Nissan, so it’s an oddly familiar package – albeit one wrapped in distinctive and rather handsome styling.

Inside, the Kadjar is spacious and very practical, with a larger boot than its Japanese cousin. The efficient 110hp 1.5 diesel engine is likely to be the bestseller. It emits just 99g/km of CO2 (low enough for free car tax), even if you opt for the automatic gearbox. There’s also a 130hp 1.6 diesel – available with four-wheel drive – and a 130hp 1.2 turbo petrol. The latter is much cheaper to buy than the diesels, and probably the best option unless you cover a high annual mileage. The Kadjar goes on sale in July, priced from £17,995.

03_CrossoversNissan Qashqai

Best for: all-round crossover competence

On paper, the concept of a crossover doesn’t make much sense. They’re heavier, slower, less efficient and probably don’t handle as well as a hatchback with the same engine. Yet spend a few hours – or indeed a few years – with the sector-defining Qashqai and it’s easy to see its appeal. For starters, it looks great, with just enough SUV attitude to get your neighbours talking. That boxy body also means plenty of interior space, plus the high seating position provides a better view of the road.

The Qashqai is easy to drive and very refined. Its engines are almost inaudible when cruising and the suspension smoothes out potholes and speed humps. The 115hp 1.2 petrol is competent and good value, but the gutsier 110hp 1.5 diesel is the best all-rounder. It returns a claimed 74.3mpg and tax-dodging CO2 emissions of 99g/km. Nissan no longer sells a seven-seat Qashqai+2. You’ll have to trade up to the larger X-Trail if you have more than three children.

04_CrossoversSkoda Yeti

Best for: driver appeal

It isn’t just the Top Gear boys who rave about the Skoda Yeti. This rugged crossover always scores well for owner satisfaction in the Which? Car Survey, and has finished first in the Auto Express Driver Power survey on two occassions. That’s partly because the Yeti is great to drive, with nimble handling that’s definitely more ‘car’ than ‘SUV’. It’s also due to the Skoda’s superb practicality; despite being smaller than many rivals, its slab-sided lines mean a useful, box-shaped boot. You can even remove the rear seats altogether.

We’re big fans of the 110hp 1.2 TSI petrol engine, which revs eagerly and is cheaper to buy than the 1.6 and 2.0 diesels. Fuel economy is a respectable 51.4mpg, with CO2 emissions of 128g/km – and those figures are identical if you choose Skoda’s excellent DSG semi-automatic gearbox. Like its mythical namesake, four-wheel-drive versions of the Yeti are surprisingly capable off-road. Outdoor versions look the part, too, thanks to skid plates and chunkier bumpers.

05_CrossoversSuzuki SX4 S-Cross

Best for: value for money

Suzuki is a small player in the UK market and its cars can be hit or miss. The SX4 S-Cross, though, is definitely the former – especially when you take price into account. It starts from a whisker under £14,000, which buys you a 120hp 1.6 petrol in entry-level SZ3 spec. A well-equipped 120hp 1.6 diesel SZ5 is much pricier – at nearly £23,000 – but that’s still at least £3,000 less than a similar-spec Qashqai. Allgrip four-wheel drive is a £1,800 option.

If you want a crossover to stand out from the crowd, the Suzuki probably isn’t for you.  It’s blander than the other cars here, with fewer SUV styling cues. The interior won’t win any design awards either, but it is roomy and practical. The S-Cross also drives pretty well, with direct steering and a lively diesel engine.

06_CrossoversCitroen C4 Cactus

Best for: head-turning style

Whether you find its space-age style beguiling or bemusing, there’s no denying the Citroen C4 Cactus looks like nothing else on the road. Its most distinctive feature is the Airbumps on the doors, which protect from parking dings and come in a range of contrasting colours. The Cactus is just a radical inside, with a minimalist dashboard and optional sofa-style seats. It is on the small side for a family car, though, and it has obviously been built to a budget (the rear seat only folds in one piece, for example).

On the road, the Cactus is set up for ride comfort rather than sporty handling. This isn’t a car that likes to be rushed. Fuel economy is impressive – the BlueHDi diesel promises a remarkable 91.1mpg and CO2 emissions of 82g/km. And it’s hard to argue with the Citroen’s starting price of just £12,990.

07_CrossoversHonda CR-V

Best for: space and reliability

When does a crossover become an SUV? We’re not sure, but Honda’s ‘Compact Recreational Vehicle’ is certainly one of the larger cars in its class. That brings great benefits in terms of interior space and versatility – the boot is simply huge – but CR-V isn’t cheap to buy (prices start at £22,345). It is reliable, though. The petrol-engined CR-V was rated the most reliable 4×4 in the latest Which? Car Survey.

That said, we’d opt for the excellent 1.6-litre diesel, which comes in 120hp and 160hp outputs. Fuel economy for the 110hp version with two-wheel drive is 64.2mpg, with 115g/km CO2. The CR-V isn’t sporty to drive and its light steering offers little feedback. However, it’s comfortable, stable and safe. All versions come with city emergency braking, which can prevent low-speed shunts by slamming on the brakes if it detects a collision is imminent.

 

Nissan Qashqai hits 2 million

Britain builds 2 million Nissan Qashqai in record time

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Nissan Qashqai enthusiast bags #1

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Nissan Qashqai wins top What Car? prize

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Launch Pad: Nissan Qashqai

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