The Qashqai 'crossover' is available with a wide range of model options with two and four wheel drive and with five and seven seat layouts so it indeed 'crosses-over' the ever blurring perimeters for SUVs, MPV people carriers and family medium sized hatchbacks.
Prices range from £16,495 to £27,095 for the Qashqai five seat models and £17,895 to £28,445 for the Qashqai+2 seven seat versions.
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Looking at the range overall there are spec levels, depending on the engine chosen, to suit most pockets. These are Visia, Acenta, N-Tec+, Tekna and a Pure Drive level.
The power unit options include two petrol and three diesel units and many have the option of manual or automatic transmissions as well as two or four wheel drive.
With the majority of Qashqai range UK customers choosing diesel power, two wheel drive traction and five seat layout, the new pick of the bunch model, as tested, is the 1.6 dCi 130 N-Tec+ Stop/Start 2WD priced at £23,045. But if 4WD is a 'must have' add £1,550 to that price. Both versions have a six-speed manual gearbox as standard; there is no auto option as yet for this 1.6 dCi model.
Engine and performance
The 2012 range saw the introduction of the new Pure Drive version of the top selling Qashqai equipped with a new state-of-the-art 1.6 dCi engine coupled to the Stop/Start system already introduced on the 1.6-litre petrol model. This advanced new engine lets drivers enjoy the best of both worlds - greatly reduced emissions with apparently improved in-gear performance.
Replacing the 2.0dCi unit in manual guise, the 1.6-litre diesel not only boasts CO2 emissions of just 119g/km, but also offers the same level of performance as the bigger engine. Thanks to an output of 130PS, (128bhp) it is the most powerful of its size in the world, while its peak torque figure - an impressive 320Nm (236lb ft) is exactly the same as the 2.0-litre engine and developed at only 1,750rpm with some 80 per cent available from a mere 1,500rpm.
The resulting performance lifts this Qashqai above the 1.6-litre class as top speed is 118mph, with 0-62mph taking 10.3 seconds for the most popular 2WD model.
This performance gain is not at the expense of the environment and combined consumption is 62.8mpg as against 47.9mpg for the 2.0dCi, an amazing 31 per cent improvement. The 119g/km CO2 emissions mean a VED road tax cost of £0 in the First Year rate and then only £30 for the second year onwards.
For company and business car drivers, of which there are many, the Benefit-in-Kind tax penalty with this engine with 2WD is just 17 per cent. Go the 4WD route with this engine and the CO2 figure is 135g/km so BIK tax goes up to 21 per cent and VED road tax is £120 for every year.
Equipment and practicality
The latest Qashqai has also benefited from a number of innovative items of equipment including for the first time in its class, Around View Monitor fitted as standard to all N-Tec+ and Tekna variants.
Using a set of discrete external cameras, Around View Monitor makes manoeuvring and parking as safe and easy as possible by giving the driver a real-time bird's eye view of the surrounding environment.
Working seamlessly with the popular Nissan Connect touch screen navigation system, Around View Monitor adds three additional cameras to the Qashqai's existing rear view system to create the ultimate 360° overview.
My test model, the Qashqai 1.6 dCi N-Tec+ with 2WD was well appointed with kit and equipment including sat/nav, the all-seeing Around View system, electrically operated windows and door mirrors, air conditioning, full audio system with Bluetooth, rain sensing wipers and auto lighting, on-board computer, 18-inch alloy wheels and five comfortable seats with the rear three folding for extra load space.
With the seats in position the boot has a reasonable 410-litres of space but fold them down and this goes up to 1,513-litres.
It is easy to see why this roomy vehicle is so popular with families and active empty nesters. Unfortunately there is no spare wheel fitted as standard, just one of those dubious inflation kits but at least a spare wheel is available and can be accommodated beneath the load floor and your Nissan dealer will fit and supply it for an extra £112.
Another key purchasing point is the easy to drive nature of the Qashqai. The command seating positions give excellent visibility out of the vehicle and the controls are all easy to see and use. The seats and wide opening doors allow easy access and I'm told it is easy to load the children into these seats. For us older folk, and the even less able, they make getting in and out of the vehicle easy as well.
The suspension is set to give a comfortable ride, even with the 18-inch wheels, rather than a firm one which many other big-wheeled, hard suspension 'crossovers' have. The only downside to this softer setting is that there is some bodyroll during faster cornering due to the height of the vehicle. I can live with comfort rather than driving thrills. - most real customers can as well.
The new 1.6-litre 128bhp turbodiesel engine with 236lb ft of torque scores well for low CO2 emissions so low tax charges and excellent fuel economy are the biggest reasons to choose it.
My test drive covering the usual motorway journeys and local trips and stop/start traffic was an impressive 53.1mpg, some way down on the official 62.8mpg figure, but that generally is the case with most new cars. The engine pulls strongly and is responsive through the mid range but let the revs drop too low and the response is flat so changing down several gears is needed to bring the engine back into its power band.
This new engine will appeal financially most to high mileage drivers, especially company car drivers. Lower mileage retail users might choose to save up to £3,000 and buy the 1.6-litre petrol version instead although annual road tax will be £135 instead of £0/£30 and fuel consumption will be around 45mpg instead of around 60mpg (53mpg on test).
Nissan Qashqai 1.6 dCi N-Tec+ 2WD 5-Door/5-Seat
1.6-litre, four cylinder, direct injection turbodiesel with Stop/Start, 128bhp with 236lb ft of torque from 1,750rpm, 6-speed manual, front wheel drive.
118mph, 0-62mph 10.3 seconds, 62.8mpg ( 53.1mpg on test), CO2 119g/km, VED road tax £0 First Year rate then £30 per annum, BIK company car tax 17%.
L 4,330mm, W 1,780mm, H 1,615mm, boot/load space 410 to 1,513-litres.
Max braked towing weight:
Fuel/tax efficient new diesel engine, roomy, comfortable, easy to drive, a well packaged versatile vehicle, sells in high numbers.
Bland exterior styling, new engine lacks low down grunt, significant price premium over the 1.6-litre petrol engine, no spare wheel as standard.