Driven 2020 Nissan Qashqai

In 2017, Nissan gave an extensive facelift with a sharper look and an interior that felt slightly higher quality, too. It’s well-equipped in any trim level, but higher-spec N-Connecta, Tekna and Tekna+ models come with a vast kit list and a more upmarket feel to the roomy cabin. All models have plenty of sound deadening material meaning it’s a quiet place to be, with a relaxed feel on the move.

However, the overall interior quality is still underwhelming when you consider top-of-the-range Where fitted, the leather trim feels soft yet plasticky, while some of the switches inside you’ll find on much cheaper Nissan models.

It’s a similar story with the on-board technology: it all works, but the graphics on the displays lack the sophistication you’ll find on many of the Nissan’s rivals. Still, the cabin is well suited to the rigours of family life, with plenty of room front and rear. Higher-spec cars get a full-length panoramic glass roof, which provides a bright and airy interior; just watch out as it also nibbles into rear headroom.

Luggage space with the rear seats in use stands at 430 litres – somewhat smaller than many rivals – but the boot floor has a clever trick up its sleeve: it’s made up of two panels, which can be repositioned to create either a deeper boot or a totally flat load area when the rear seats are folded down. There’s also space under the boot floor to stow the parcel shelf when not in use – very useful.

Four adults can easily get comfy in the Qashqai with plenty of space for heads and limbs, but a fifth passenger occupying the central rear seat will inevitably make it feel snug – it’s a relatively compact car, despite its height.

Its modest size also makes it easy to manoeuvre and park, particularly in tight urban confines. Many models are fitted with parking cameras and sensors to make it even less of a challenge.

Since late 2018, the engine range consists of a 1.3-litre DIG-T turbo petrol with a choice of two power outputs – 140hp and 160hp. It’s an engine that you’ll also find under the bonnets of various smaller Mercedes-Benz models including the A-Class, as well as its Renault Kadjar sister car and the closely related Dacia Duster. Overall, this 1.3-litre engine is far smoother and punchier than the 1.2-litre it replaced, but you’ll struggle to come close to the official fuel efficiency figures in the real world.

If you prefer diesel power, there’s a familiar 1.5-litre dCi with 115hp, which is the most economical option for the Qashqai. There’s also a 1.7-litre dCi diesel with 150hp that replaced a 130hp 1.6-litre motor in 2019.

Manual and automatic gearboxes are available, plus if you want the extra traction of four-wheel drive – not an expense we’d recommend – it’s available in the upper echelons of the range.

With safe, assured handling and admirable ride comfort, which remains pliant even when specified with large alloy wheels (up to 19 inches are available), the Qashqai is easy to drive.

Added to the Qashqai range in 2018 was a suite of driver assistance and safety systems dubbed ProPilot. Launched initially as a standalone limited-edition model called Pilot One Edition, ProPilot comes with adaptive cruise control with traffic jam assist (on automatic cars) as well as blind spot monitoring and intelligent lane keep assist systems to keep you in the middle of your lane without straying across the lines. This equipment is also available as an option pack called Drive Assist Pack on models with manual gearboxes. It comes with all the equipment listed above, but without traffic jam assist, as this only works on cars with automatic transmissions.

Should the Qashqai be your default choice? It’s still competitive, but a wealth of rival SUVs such as the Ford Kuga, Kia Sportage, Peugeot 3008 and Skoda Karoq, among a wide range of others, illustrate how much the game’s moved on since the Mk2 model went on sale in 2014. Continue reading our full review to see if it’s good enough to remain a contender.

Family cars need to be roomy and practical, which is a positive for the Qashqai as it’s both of those things. It will easily ferry three kids in the back with ease – and three adults if they don’t mind sitting close – while the extra height of the bodywork allows for easier entry and exit of the car, particularly useful when installing child seats or transporting less mobile passengers.

Interior storage space is taken care of by a large central storage box between the front seats, while there are numerous cubbies and compartments to store keys, wallets and mobile phones. To make room for this, the Qashqai uses an electronic parking brake switch rather than a conventional handbrake lever.

One slight niggle is that over-the-shoulder visibility is still restricted by the large rear pillars, making checking the blind spot tricky at times. Most models get a single or 360-degree surround-vision parking camera, but they’re not the highest-resolution displays on that central multimedia screen.

In the Euro NCAP test the Nissan Qashqai scored the full five stars, with particularly high scores for adult and child protection, as well as a strong score for pedestrian safety.

Various active safety technology systems are available under Nissan’s ‘Safety Shield’ banner. Depending on trim, some are standard and some are extras at extra cost – see the Equipment section for details.

Blind Spot Warning – this has been upgraded to use radar sensors to detect vehicles hidden in the Qashqai’s blind spot – it illuminates a light in the corresponding windscreen pillar to warn the driver

Intelligent Driver Alertness – displays a warning on the instrument panel should steering inputs become erratic in a way that suggests the driver is drowsy

Front Collision Avoidance and Forward Emergency Braking – scans the road ahead via radar and issues an audible warning if it detects an imminent collision, before applying the brakes automatically in an emergency. Can now spot pedestrians too

High Beam Assist – automatically switches the headlamps from full beam to avoid dazzling other traffic

Lane Departure Warning – alerts the driver if they drift out of lane without indicating. This is actually very irritating in practice – it’s hair-trigger sensitive and emits a harsh beeping noise if you touch a white line

Moving Object Detection – should a moving object come within their range when manoeuvring, the Around View cameras trigger an audible warning and highlight the rough location of the object on the display screen

Traffic Sign Recognition – front-facing camera reads speed limit signs and displays them on the instrument panel; function works abroad in Europe, too

Rear Cross Traffic Alert – new in 2017’s facelift is this system which will alert you if you’re about to reverse into a road with a car approaching from the side

But, it’s not all good news. Inside it’s starting to feel dated, even though there’s no arguing with just how comfortable or well-equipped it is.

For the Qashqai, its biggest headache is that the Kia Sportage, Peugeot 3008 and Skoda Karoq do most things just that little bit better – and the Ford Kuga does everything that little bit better than everything else right now, and that’s the one we’d go for.

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