Driven: Nissan Qashqai 130 PS 1.6 dCi Tekna N-Tec+ PlusBy Philip Shoulder
November 21, 2011
Since its launch in 2007, sales of Nissan’s small family Crossover have been strong with more than one million Qashqai and seven-seat Qashqai+2 models built at the Sunderland factory. The Qashqai’s appealing blend of stylish looks, good build quality and well behaved driving manners won the hearts of many buyers looking for a hatchback alternative.
Following a mid–life facelift in 2010, the Qashqai now gets a new compact 1.6 clean diesel engine – the result of extensive development costing €230 million by the Nissan/Renault alliance. With 130 PS it sits in the middle of the existing petrol and diesel line up in terms of power, but matches the larger 2.0 diesel’s impressive 320Nm of torque at 1750 rpm. Yet despite this, Nissan claims a 31% improvement in combined fuel economy over the bigger engine.
The combination of downsizing the engine and implementing other clever design results in a low C02 output of 129g/km for the 2 wheel drive version. Cars from January 2012 will have start-stop technology meaning this figure will drop even further to 119 g/km.
Both two and four wheel drive 1.6 dCi variants are offered, although only in 6 speed manual form. Auto remains available on the 2.0 dCi.
On the road, Nissan Qashqai is an assured and capable performer that belies its bulk with controlled and composed handling. Steering is positive and direct and although some drivers may find the gearchange slightly notchy, they will also appreciate its precise and positive action. The ride is smooth and supple, with well damped suspension and minimal road and wind noise.
The new 1.6 diesel engine is a bit buzzy at idle, but smoothes out once on the move and boasts a mostly flexible power delivery. Good mid-range pull provided by the engine’s torque means confident overtaking, but let the revs drop below 1500 rpm at slower speeds and you’ll need first gear – the engine labouring and unable to propel the car forward in second until the revs rise sufficiently to tap into the turbo’s torque.
Qashqai’s cabin is a pleasant place to be, being functional, airy and comfortable. The quality of the materials are of a high standard and not far short of VW. There are no squeaky hard plastics to be found here. Both the amount of headroom and legroom are generous although the boot at 410 litres is smaller than in both the VW Golf and Ford Focus Estate. Other niggles include stingy amounts of storage space, restricted rear boot access and a rather high-up passenger seat, with no available height adjustment.
n-tec+ and Tekna models boast ‘Around View Monitor’ – a first for a C-segment car. AVM uses a series of small exterior mounted cameras to assist with parking and manoeuvring by giving the driver a real-time helicopter view of the environment around the car.
The Nissan Connect CD/stereo and integrated Sat-nav – standard on n-tec+ and Tekna, optional on Acenta – is easy to use and offers the functionality of Bluetooth and either aux or USB connection, depending on model.
Qashqai still won’t win awards for space, but has now been further enhanced by an efficient new engine and more generous equipment levels incorporating clever technology.
Model: Nissan Qashqai 1.6 dCi Tekna N-Tec+ Plus (2 wheel drive)
Price From: £24,345
Power: 129 bhp
0-60: 10.1 seconds
CO2 emission: 129g/km
2010/2011 VED: Band D, £80pa (1st Year free)