Low-speed muscle boosts jumbo appeal
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.