Nissan's genre-defining Qashqai crossover gets a light overhaul for 2017 and beyond, but is it enough to keep it ahead of the ever-growing pack of equally impressive rivals?
In the metal
In its second incarnation, the genre-defining Nissan Qashqai adopted a bold look to allow it to stand out despite its omnipresence on Irish roads. For the mid-life revisions launching later this summer, Nissan has not been quite so bold. The changes limited to some detail revisions around the grille up front, the rear bumper and all of the lights. Subtle for sure, though, in fairness, the Qashqai is still a good looking car. If it ain't broke and all that...
That's much the same inside; that Nissan spent so much time at the car's international launch talking about the new steering wheel (it has got a flat bottom, is thicker and has thinner spokes than before) reveals a lot. There are new higher grade materials apparently, though the premium feel Nissan promises isn't really that prevalent. Not that there's anything wrong with the interior; it's spacious and easy to use, but if you've sat in a Peugeot 3008 before getting in the Qashqai it all feels a little bit old school.
The Qashqai has always majored on the middle ground so it's not surprising to find that it's average to drive. That's despite the promise of some suspension and chassis tuning, plus a revised steering system with more positive self-centring; though the latter seemingly adds some unnecessary heft at the wheel's rim. The Qashqai rides well, as it always has so the biggest revisions have come about from Nissan's focus on refinement. It has subtly tweaked how the air flows around the car, added acoustic damping material and even gone so far as fitting thicker glass in the rear. It's marginally more hushed as a result, making it a more relaxed high speed cruiser. It will be more so in the next year, too, promises Nissan, when the full suite of its ProPilot semi-autonomous driver aids are offered.
On the engine side, all is familiar, with no improvements in terms of performance or efficiency. The range is made up of the best-selling 110hp 1.5 turbodiesel (feels a bit overwhelmed when the car is full, but delivers a 99g/km CO2 figure) and the larger 1.6-litre that gains 20hp for more respectable performance. There's a pair of petrol options too, either a 1.2-litre 115hp unit or a 163hp 1.6-litre. The 1.6-litre 130hp turbodiesel is the best all-rounder thanks to its useful 320Nm of torque, while an official consumption figure of 4.6 litres/100km will keep the tank fill-ups infrequent.
There is the option of four-wheel drive with the higher powered diesel, but the majority of buyers opt for the front-wheel-drive models. They can be had with a choice of six-speed manual or CVT automatic transmissions, and the manual is a slick enough shifter to ignore the automatic. None will thrill, but the sheer level of competence, particularly with the bigger output engines, is difficult to pick holes in, even if both the SEAT Ateca and Peugeot 3008 are both more enjoyable to drive.
What you get for your money
Nissan has always majored on good value and high standard levels of equipment with the Qashqai and it'll continue do so with this new one. Nissan Ireland has not released pricing or specs for the updated Qashqai as yet, but if the new model follows the outgoing car's lead then even the base car will come with air conditioning, Bluetooth connectivity, an electric parking brake and cruise control. Head up the range and you'll add equipment like standard satnav, better infotainment and climate control, as well as more active safety and convenience aids.
Given the greater breadth and increasing strength of its rivals, we expected a little bit more of Nissan from its updated Qashqai. The changes are relatively minor, but certainly will be welcomed with open arms by the thousands of existing Qashqai owners looking to trade-in for a new one.