Low-speed mus­cle boosts jumbo ap­peal

Yorkshire Post - Motoring - - FEATURES - Fred­eric Manby

NIS­SAN’S Qashqai is a phe­nom­e­non. Last year, de­spite the im­pli­ca­tions of the Ja­panese earthquake and other Asian cli­matic dis­as­ters, it pro­duced more than 300,000 of these jumbo “cross­over” hatch­backs at its fac­tory in Sun­der­land.

Nis­san’s UK pro­duc­tion last year was 480,485 – that is al­most half a mil­lion cars and more than a third of the to­tal UK car pro­duc­tion. More than 1,000,000 Qashqais have been built since 2007. It is Nis­san’s most suc­cess­ful model this cen­tury.

Qashqai prices start at £16,495 for the petrol 1.6, quoted at 45.6mpg and 144g/ km of CO2. CVT au­to­matic gears will add £1,300 and have scant ef­fect on the of­fi­cial mpg and CO2 fig­ures. The man­u­al­geared en­gine is fit­ted with stop start at £16,745, which drops the an­nual tax band to E. Diesel en­gines be­gin at £18,195 for the high torque 1.5 which records 54.3mpg and 137g/km.

On test here is the new­est diesel, a 128 bhp 1.6 which re­placed a thirstier 2-litre en­gine and is avail­able with front and all-wheel drive in the five seater and the longer 7seater bod­ies. Its rai­son d’être is vastly im­proved econ­omy – up by 31 per cent to 62.8mpg, with just 119g/km of CO2 It is also qui­eter and does not have to be revved as hard to reach its 236 lb ft of torque. Prices start at £19,695 with stop-start ig­ni­tion as stan­dard.

This en­gine is al­ready used by Re­nault, but as yet is not fit­ted to any other Nis­sans.

My test car was the n-tec ver­sion, fully equipped with things like touch­screen nav­i­ga­tion, auto lamps and wipers, 18-inch al­loys, a ful­l­length glass roof, rear park­ing cam­era, dual zone cli­mate con­trol, a black hon­ey­comb front air in­take, and so on. Its ask­ing price was £22,795 plus £495 for me­tal­lic paint and £41.34 for car­pet mats. Note, though, that this was an early ver­sion, and did 44.8mpg. The ex­tra ur­ban fig­ure is 68.9mpg so as an owner I’d look for bet­ter than the high 40s.

I like the Qashqai more ev­ery time I drive one.

The new 1.6 diesel in­creases the ap­peal of this Q-car by out­per­form­ing the smaller 1.5 diesel in ev­ery re­spect, al­beit for a hefty price premium. One must, it is clear, pay for progress. The en­gine runs nicely and smoothly, and is geared for 70mph at 2,000rpm in sixth gear. The ac­cel­er­a­tion is brisk with­out be­ing ex­cit­ing, and with enough low-speed mus­cle to spin the wheels at junc­tions if you are be­ing hasty.

Does it han­dle with the alacrity of a Golf or As­tra? No it does not. There has to be a trade-off for that higher body but it is by no means a shabby han­dler and you should en­joy the drive.

PHE­NOM­E­NAL: More than 300,000 Nis­san Qashqais were pro­duced in the UK last year.

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