AFTER the Nissan Qashqai — the car with a plainly weird name — was launched upon an unsuspecting world in 2007, it became in car sales’ terms a smash hit for the Japanese carmaker.
The name that might have proved an obstacle for buyers was soon in common usage — as in “mine’s a Qashqai, what’s yours called?” Owners were proud of the car because it was a good car that fulfilled many of their requirements and became Nissan’s worldwide best-seller, so far topping one million sales.
Seven years on, a new generation Qashqai is on sale and it does not disappoint: it is a more sophisticated, smarter, better looking version of its former self — and there are not many of us who can say that as the years pass.But then Nissan knows that there is a lot invested in the success of this new generation Qashqai: it has a certain Britishness about it that would make any true Brit proud (apart from the fact it’s Japanese).
However, the car was designed in London, mostly engineered at Cranfield, Bedfordshire and of course built at the highly successful Nissan plant in Sunderland. The test car, a Qashqai Tekna 1.6dCi (diesel engined) looked especially smart in Ink Blue. With an on-the-road price of just over £26,000 this is not a cheap car but you get a lot for your money.
The Qashqai was not the first of its type: it is termed a compact crossover. This as I understand it crosses a smaller version people carrier with a smaller version four-by-four. The resulting family-oriented vehicle has the attributes and the advantages of both styles of car and has proved to be a great success with the buying public. You can see why because it appeals not only to families but also to those that want some zest, with comfort and space in their daily motoring.
The Qashqai is, however, not a flash job by any means and this new version, as with the original, has been put together with plenty of studied forethought.
As I say, when you drive it, you are aware of a new sophistication in its step — assured, steady handling and more than adequate performance. Fans of the former model should have no anxieties about changing up to the new generation.
So what’s exactly new? The car comes out longer and although 47mm may not sound like much, in terms of overall feel and dynamic looks, it is not hard to see how much the new generation model has evolved. To this end, the car is lower and slightly wider than its predecessor.
I think changes to the interior from the old version are more than a passing nod to other successful makes of car (for instance those coming out of Korea to great acclaim). The interior of the new Qashqai then is better presented and sleeker than the earlier model with less reliance on a “plastic look”.
We were very comfortable (my wife and I) in the front of the car and reports from rear-seat passengers were all good. Boot space is now bigger which is always useful and the 16 different configurations of how the rear seats fold away (including flat down to give you van-like capacity for bigger loads) make this a vehicle that can tackle many of the carrying jobs any family faces.
This car has a list of standard equipment as long as your arm including (to name a few) Safety Shield Technologies — around view monitor, blind spot warning (a must in my book) and moving object detection — a Smart Vision Pack including anti-dazzle rear view mirror, traffic sign recognition, auto hi/lo beam (very useful), lane departure warning, front collision avoidance and front and rear parking sensors.
I could go on but you get the picture: Nissan has gone to town on the detail of the new model and provided a compact crossover with big ambition. I see no reason why this latest generation of a tried-and-tested model should not build further on Qashqai’s indisputable success story.
Model tested: Nissan Qashqai Tekna 1.6dCi
• Transmission: Manual 4WD
• On-the-road price (including metallic paint at £525): £26,670
• More than one million worldwide sales
• Four trim levels — Visia, Acenta, Acenta Premium and range-topping Tekna.
• Two petrol engines are featured (a 1.2-litre, 113bhp four and a 1.6-litre 148bhp) plus two diesels, a 109bhp 1.5-litre and a 128bhp 1.6-litre unit.
• Six-speed manual gearbox is standard: the 1.6-litre diesel has a choice of CVT or four-wheel drive.