Road test: Nissan Qashqai
Top marks for all-round capability, comfort and smart good looks.
Road test by James Luckhurst, March 2019
Delivery arangements are confirmed and I have my first encounter with the car. Initial impressions of this 1.3-litre DIG-T 160 petrol Qashqai are positive. It’s good looking and very easy to get to know. Following a walk-round and a quick appraisal of the exterior, it takes no time at all to get comfortable in the driver’s seat. The sense is of something smart, something refined, something sophisticated. A journey to nearby Brecon goes smoothly. The raised-up driver position feels good, there’s praise from front- and rear-seat passengers, with particular enthusiasm for the full-length electrically-operated sliding panoramic roof panel. The only question: will a 1.3-litre engine prove sufficient for the sort of driving we do (seldom town, mostly open roads, motorways and country lanes)?
Time for a good look around the cabin. Climb into the driver’s seat, and you quickly appreciate the benefit of that higher position offered by a crossover vehicle. Inside is admittedly very black: the steering wheel covered in black leather, black fascia, black plastic, black roof panel. But it all works and adds to the overall quality and sophistication.
Everything is within easy reach, and we each find our ideal seating position with just a couple of clicks on the electric adjusters situated (just as you would expect) on the right-hand side of the driver’s seat.
The layout is clear in front, too. Two big dials, the left giving the revs and the right displaying the miles per hour and the fuel gauge. A central digital display cleverly gives speed reading and safety signs, such as changing speed limits. 10 out of 10 for clarity – and it’s not too obtrusive, either.
Included as standard on this car is the Nissan ‘Safety Shield Plus’, comprising Intelligent Driver Alert, Blind Spot Warning, Rear Cross Traffic Alert and Moving Object Detection. There are three ISOFIX child seat anchorage points in the rear, and – particularly welcome – a ‘Smart Vision’ pack including an anti-dazzle rear view mirror.
Weekends for us usually involve ferrying youngsters to and from sports fixtures, and today is no exception. As we disgorge passengers at the local rugby club, there’s time to hang back and explore the car’s internal workings a little more. The large central infotainment screen is easy to understand. It’s here that the reversing camera displays our proximity to something behind. But also the satnav and audio controls were, for us, intuitive and simple.
Below that were the cabin air controls, which admittedly did take a little getting used to. We found it hard to find just the right temperature, and felt there was too big a difference between the low temperature setting and the very first notch up (which was 16 degrees).
Boot space is reasonable but not class leading. There’s a false boot floor, which is a natty idea – comprising a couple of panels (‘luggage boards’) that slide in and out to give 16 different combinations for boot storage. Particularly sensible is the ability to split the boot left and right (handy to stop your groceries flying everywhere). But our concern would be losing those boards – I know it wouldn’t be long before they were inadvertently left somewhere – and most likely never seen again.
Today was the day for my quarterly day trip to the Good Motoring designer near Newport. It was a cold morning, and I had so far (stupidly) failed to locate the heated seat controls, which were on the front of the big central bin that sits between the seats. But shortly after, my posterior suitably warmed, I was soon on my way, generally satisfied with the Qashqai’s sure-footed road handling and firm drive. My initial question about the capability of the 1.3-litre engine was answered today. Yes, it IS entirely sufficient for the sort of driving we do.
The only downside to the driving experience was the noticeable lag when we tried to get going. It’s a fairly common trait among automatic gearboxes, and you soon learn that it’s not suitable for crafty nipping in and out of traffic.
Another cold day, and a few more midweek taxi journeys for sports training. This offered a chance to sit in the car and take a look at what was going on higher up in the cabin. There’s plenty of front-seat headroom, even for the tallest driver, while the control panel for lights and roof couldn’t be easier to operate. There’s just one simple and small control panel above the driver’s head, but this houses the most popular button… push it and the full-length roof panel goes from fully extended to fully concealed in 13 seconds, allowing a fabulous skyscape view to unfold above heads.
The bin between the front seats is massive; deep and capacious, with a USB charger and 12-volt socket. There is another 12-volt socket just under the heating controls. Although we don’t cover particularly long distances during our week with the Qashqai, it’s sure to be very handy for families on the move, given the non-stop requirement for charging everyone’s phones and tablets.
Driving the Qashqai has been a great pleasure. It’s very well designed, with that high position. Visibility is excellent, and there are no noticeable blind spots. Acceleration is brisk (if unspectacular), and the car genuinely inspires confidence when negotiating the bends and hills that proliferate around our home. If we were in the market for a new car, then this – with its all-round capability, comfort, smart good looks and practicality – would surely have to be a serious contender.
WE SAY Top marks for all-round capability, comfort and smart good looks.
AT A GLANCE:
Performance: 0-62 in 10.4 secs