Nissan Qashqai Review
"Sometimes exactly what you want is vanilla"
Nissan Qashqai review - front view, red, 2020

Nissan Qashqai review: the original antidote to ordinary cars

  • Published 24 April 2020
  • 6 minute read
  • By Gavin Braithwaite-Smith

Introduction

I’ll spare you the Nissan Qashqai history lesson because, quite frankly, it’s getting boring. Great British success story this, most popular crossover that, changed the face of motoring whatever. Yawn. It’s all been said before and you don’t really care, do you?

You don’t browse the menu at a curry house expecting a detailed history of Indian food. You just want a curry. Neither do you demand a long and drawn out backstory when you’re deciding what to watch on Netflix. You just want to Netflix and chill. Actually, that’s something entirely different…

Qashqai and chill?Nissan Qashqai review - front view, driving round corner, red, 2020 Available to lease from £176 per month Lease Now

There’s nothing sexy about the Nissan Qashqai. It’s not even the best family crossover you can buy. Instead, it’s a car that’s as in tune with the needs of the British public as Ant and Dec and an unlimited-data mobile phone contract.

Only the Ford Fiesta, Volkswagen Golf, Ford Focus, Vauxhall Corsa and Mercedes-Benz A-Class were more popular than the Qashqai in 2019, making this the UK’s best-selling crossover. All of which is getting perilously close to a long and drawn out backstory, so let’s cut to the chase before you drift off.

The question is, should you lease a Nissan Qashqai in 2020?


Looks, tech and design

If you asked a primary school kid to draw a car, the chances are it would look like the Nissan Qashqai. Today’s children have grown up with the crossover – you might even have travelled to school in one. They’re part of the automotive furniture.

It’s not a bad looking car at this point, it’s just become a tad generic. You’ll want to avoid the entry-level Visia trim, because it’s as exciting as celery. The Acenta Premium gains 17-inch alloy wheels, which improves the styling, while the N-Connecta boasts 18-inch rims, rear privacy glass and roof rails.

Blends in like a tiger in a jungle. Or somethingNissan Qashqai review - rear view, red, 2020 Available to lease from £176 per month Lease Now

By the time you reach Tekna trim, the Qashqai is in full party frock mode, dressed up with 19-inch rims and LED headlights. You should stop at the Tekna, because the sport pack of the Tekna+ trim is like your dad wearing the kind of clothes your boyfriend might wear on a Friday night.

On the inside, the Qashqai feels surprisingly posh, with a premium look and feel in all the right places. Ignoring the Visia trim, all models get a fancy D-shaped leather steering wheel, along with a 7.0-inch touchscreen display with sat-nav, Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, dual-zone climate control, rear-view camera and a suite of safety systems.

The Tekna nudges the Qashqai into premium territory, boasting a Bose eight-speaker sound system, panoramic glass roof and driver assistance systems that can almost drive the car for you. On the Tekna+ you’ll find Nappa leather seats that look like Lego Batman’s torso and feature four-way pneumatic lumbar support. Still want that Range Rover Evoque?

Interior can be made to feel quite premiumNissan Qashqai review - interior, dashboard, 2020 Available to lease from £176 per month Lease Now

Actually, you probably do, because although Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are welcome additions, they only serve to mask what is fast becoming a woefully inadequate touchscreen display. Seven inches just can’t cut it when as much as 12 inches is on offer elsewhere.

From a practical perspective, the Qashqai just about holds its own. There’s just enough room for five adults, while the 430-litre boot is pretty average for its class. Up front, there are sufficient storage spaces for your cups, phones, headphones and celery.

The cheapest cars with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto - on CarZing


Driving

One of the many reasons people gravitate towards cars like the Nissan Qashqai is the high driving position. It provides a commanding view of the road ahead, which somehow makes it feel more premium than a regular hatchback. Mixing with Range Rovers can have that effect.

This Nissan is not even remotely exciting to drive, but who cares? Put simply, the Qashqai feels as accomplished on the school run as it does on the motorway. Like baby bear’s porridge, everything feels just right. Only the harshest critic will find fault in the steering, the ride quality and the handling.

A clear view of the road aheadNissan Qashqai review - rear view, driving, red, 2020 Available to lease from £176 per month Lease Now

Most Qashqais will leave the showroom with front-wheel-drive, but all-wheel drive can be added to the top-spec models. It’s not going to rival a Land Rover when it comes to climbing mountains and fording streams, but very few of us live beside an Austrian Alp. Even fewer of us can sing like Julie Andrews.

In fairness, the all-wheel-drive models feel the most accomplished, thanks in part to the more sophisticated suspension set-up. If you’re after enhanced all-weather ability and prepared to sacrifice some fuel economy, I’d happily recommend a Qashqai with four driven wheels.

As for engines, whisper this, but I’d pick the 1.5 dCi. Yes, it’s a diesel, but it offers the best blend of performance and economy, and somehow seems to fit the Qashqai’s relaxed and grown-up demeanour. The 1.7 dCi is great if you’re towing – it’s also the only engine you can have with all-wheel-drive – while the new 1.3-litre petrol is perfect for urban driving.

Or read: Our Seat Ateca review


Cost and economy

When I checked, leasing deals started at around £230 a month, which is outstanding value for a car of this size. And that’s not for the lowly Visia trim – the price is based on the desirable Tekna grade with the 1.3-litre petrol engine. Did I mention that you’ll also find this engine in the Mercedes-Benz A-Class?

With CO2 emissions as low as 102g/km, and fuel economy as high as 53.3mpg (so Nissan claims), the 1.5-litre dCi engine is the unit to have if you’re running a tight budget. You can expect a 2mpg hit by opting for the 1.7-litre dCi.

Outstanding value for moneyNissan Qashqai review - front view, driving, red, 2020 Available to lease from £176 per month Lease Now

All-wheel-drive doesn’t put a massive dent in the economy, but adding a CVT automatic transmission to the mix will leave a hole in your wallet and take a chunk out of your driving pleasure. Only tick the box marked ‘CVT’ if you like being frustrated.

The 1.3-litre petrol should return around 40mpg if you take it easy, but because petrol is cheaper than diesel, it makes the Qashqai surprisingly cost-effective to run.

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Verdict

Ateca, Kadjar, Karoq, Kuga, Sportage, Tucson, Tiguan, Grandland X, 3008, 500X… the list of Nissan Qashqai rivals is long and not particularly varied. So why do buyers continue to flock to the Qashqai like moths to a lightbulb?

Cynically, I’d argue that its success is down to affordable finance and cheap leasing deals. Faced with leasing a Ford Fiesta or Nissan Qashqai for the same price, the crossover is going to win.

There’s also an element of the Qashqai being first out of the traps. By the time Nissan’s rivals had got their house in order, work had already started on the second coming of the Qashqai. Some companies are still playing catch-up in 2020.

A pioneerNissan Qashqai review - rear view, driving fast, red, 2020 Available to lease from £176 per month Lease Now

I could be dismissive of the Qashqai. My reasons are emotive, irrational and, like the history of the crossover, largely irrelevant. I spared you the history lesson, so I’ll spare you my thoughts on the matter.

The fact is, people like the Nissan Qashqai because it’s a really good car. Some rivals are better looking, while some are better to drive. Others are more efficient, while many are loaded with newer and more desirable tech. But few, if any, offer the all-round greatness of the Qashqai.

It’s safe, easy to drive, easy to live with, practical, economical and OK to look at. Crucially, it’s very cheap to lease, which means that it represents common sense over the course of a four-year deal.

You should lease a Nissan Qashqai. Meanwhile, I’m off for a curry.

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