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Nissan Qashqai review - a mature class leader
Nissan completely burst open the predictable family hatchback marketplace when it dropped its slow-selling Almera and replaced it with its Qashqai crossover. Other manufacturers have been struggling to catch up since, Nissan’s sales winning formula of chunky SUV-lite looks, a high driving position and, particularly on this second-generation model, sharp styling make it difficult to fault. Add excellent economy to the mix and a generous standard equipment list and it’s no surprise that the lines at Nissan’s Sunderland production plant are kept very busy indeed. It’s decent, if unspectacular to drive too, though in the high volume marketplace it operates in that’s seen as a virtue, rather than a complaint.
The Qashqai’s incredible success saw Nissan downsize its crossover formula to create the Juke that competes in the supermini-sized class. It’s even spawned a 540bhp GT-R engined and drivetrain borrowing Juke R, which went into very limited production. There’s even a Nismo Juke, but sadly Nissan’s wilder side has not yet been applied to the Qashqai. If you’re after the fastest Qashqai then the 1.6 DIG-T with 160bhp is it, though a 9.1 second 0-62mph time underlines everything you need to know about the Qashqai. It’s not that exciting, but then it’s very good at everything it’s meant to be good at.
Look elsewhere and you’ll read ringing praise for the Nissan Qashqai and we’re not about to deny that for the audience it’s aimed at it’s a very competent all-rounder. That’s true of how it drives, the engines are smooth, refined, if not over-endowed with power. Economy and emissions are the numbers that matter here, not performance ones. It rides decently, even on larger alloy wheel options, while grip is decent and the handling as sure-footed as you’d expect.
There’s just not much sparkle, though that’s likely to change soon, as Nismo is said to be preparing a hotter version, borrowing the 215bhp 1.6-litre turbocharged petrol engine from the Juke Nismo RS, with chassis revisions to help the Qashqai better use it. Nismo styling will bring even more drama inside and out. That should make the school run a little bit more interesting.