Ride and handling
There will be no surprises for buyers coming from conventional hatchbacks into the Qashqai, aside from the greater ride height. Nissan has managed to contain that loftier stance with a chassis that resists roll commendably. It won’t be left trailing its hatchback rivals by too much in the bends.
What does impress is the ride quality. Even on larger alloy wheels choices there’s little sacrifice in ride comfort. Nissan has concentrated heavily on ride comfort, adding double piston dampers to allow for a broad range of control on different surfaces and speeds, as well as what it calls Nissan Chassis Control. That encompasses the three elements: Active Engine Brake, Active Trace Control and Active Ride Control. The latter two monitoring pitch and yaw and using the brakes to counteract them and improve cornering. As a result the Qashqai exhibits fine control, but the handling errs on the side of safe and predictable. Push it too hard and it’ll understeer gently, but its limits are surprisingly high. Although grip is good as is traction in the front-wheel drive models, if you want the security of four-wheel drive, the 1.6 dCi can be so eqipped. It’s not really necessary, though.
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Revisions to the steering over its predecessor have added speed and improved weighting, but the electrically assisted system is a touch light on feel - despite Nissan’s claims to the contrary.
The Qashqai is what you’d expect from a high-volume family car really, and while it’s never what you’d describe as exciting, its all-round competence is admirable.