The latest generation of a car that invented a class of its own has arrived in Ireland. We’ve got an early test drive in one of the first Qashqai’ in the country. Nissan’s huge selling family SUV (50,000 sales in Ireland alone) was first launched in 2007 and is now in its third generation. The new Qashqai looks incredibly sleek with an air of premium styling that should see it grow its 3m + sales in Europe since launch.
The five seat SUV gets a longer wheelbase while its exterior has grown in length by some 48mm to to 4425mm over the outgoing car. Its wider (+32mm) and taller too (+45mm). Next to its arch rival the Hyundai Tucson the Qashqai is more compact in every dimension. Its the same length as a Volvo XC40 and similar in overall size to a Peugeot 3008. New Qashqai features Nissan’s latest corporate nose and new LED lighting technology has allowed the design team to have some fun reshaping the front end. There are lots of subtle design details all over the body that deliver a more upmarket look.
The increase in exterior size can been felt most inside the five seat cabin. Its easier to get in to thanks to wide opening doors. The cabin is bigger as is the boot (with its clever divider). The dash layout is completely made-over yet feels both familiar and fresh. As you’d expect the very latest in technology and driver/driving aids are available to help make this Qashqai the safest ever – there is even a voice controlled personal assistant available that can link with your home’s Amazon Alexa or Google Assistant. Wi-fi (up to 7 devices) and ‘Nissan Connect Services’ feature also.
There is no diesel option or talk of an electric version on offer with petrol power only on offer. Power comes from a 1.3 litre ‘DiG-T’ four-cylinder turbocharged petrol engine that was introduced in the 2018 Qashqai. The 1.3 may be small in cubic capacity but it is powerful for its size pushing out 138hp via its six-speed manual (a CVT automatic is optional). The new Qashqai features mild hybrid technology to help reduce emissions and increase efficiency. Nissan says the 12V mild hybrid system provides torque assist, extended idle stop, quick restart and coasting stop (‘Xtronic’ auto only), with improvements to both fuel economy and CO2 output (-4g/km). When you rev the engine the Qashqai can shift along with ease the only downside to the 1.3 is that at low revs you will need to be careful with your gear choice as more than once I needed to shift down from 3rd to 2nd gear and even to 1st gear at yield junctions to get the power I needed to accelerate quickly. The automatic version is coming and we look forward to testing it when it arrives as it should be the ideal urban/traffic friendly choice for buyers. Front wheel drive is standard on the 138hp version with two or 4WD available in more powerful versions.
Driving the new Qashqai despite its perceived size is no more stressing than a Micra. The Qashqai is near effortless to operate as all the controls are very light to use. The car is economical and feels quite light and far from cumbersome. The petrol engine is nippy enough when the revs are put on and progress on motorway can be easily maintained. There is some body roll when cornering with gusto but overall the ride quality is excellent fotr the class. Road and wind noise are well suppressed too.
Qashqai pricing starts from €30,500 for the well equipped XE entry grade (17 inch steel wheels). Next up is the €33,200 SV (17 inch alloys). Our high grade SV Premium test car cost from €37,395 with the automatic SVE CVT citing from €44,600 (19 inch alloys). A number of options and value packs are available with notable ones being the Cold pack for €600 – that delivers heated seats, heated wind-shield and heated steering wheel and the Tech pack with its HUD (head up display), Drive Assist/ProPILOT and adaptive driving beams (€900-€1190). For the more sensuous buyer, soft Nappa part leather seating is available and optional massaging front seats are offered too. A powered tailgate is available, and another ‘first’ for this generation Qashqai is the option of 20 inch alloys – but we suspect that you will need to have good surfaces to enjoy these without compromising ride comfort.
On the face of it the new Qashqai will continue to deliver more than the sum of its parts to Ireland’s car buyers. We’ll review the car in full pending a longer test period.