Nissan Qashqai review 2022

Lots of cabin space and hybrid engines across the engine range make the Nissan Qashqai a key family SUV contender.
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Quick overview

  • Wide-opening doors
  • Cabin space
  • Low running costs
  • Engines sluggish at low revs
  • Head-up display is distracting
  • Cramped middle rear seat
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While the previous Nissan Qashqai was an evolution of the original car that moved the design on in a gentle progression, this latest third-generation model is a much bolder step up. Nissan needed this to get back on terms with key rivals such as the Hyundai Tucson, Kia Sportage and Skoda Karoq. Against this kind of talent, you cannot afford to be anything but extremely good.

There are also plenty of other very able cars in this ever-expanding sector that demand buyers’ attention, and Nissan does sets out its stall by offering mild hybrid power with both of its 1.3-litre DIG-T turbo petrol engines. There’s no diesel anymore, but you can have the 140- and 158hp petrols with a six-speed manual or automatic gearbox.

Nissan has also sought to offer much more cabin space than before. By extending the distance between the front and rear wheels it’s freed up more cabin room and the new Qashqai also offers a much larger boot than the car it replaces, though it’s still not as big as some in the family SUV sector. One design feature of not is how wide the rear doors open, which makes loading up the kids or fitting a child seat so much easier.

Other changes inside the Qashqai are a big step up in material quality and a classier look to the style and finish. A much improved infotainment system is easy to pair with a smartphone and offers interaction through Apple CarPlay or Android Auto. As with the Qashqais that have preceded this car, there are several trim options to help you choose the right car for you budget with all of the kit you need. That’s key to the Qashqai’s appeal as it goes up against many of the most popular and able cars on sale today.

Infotainment, comfort and practicality

Nissan has made great strides with the cabin of its family SUV and there is a big improvement in quality thanks to better materials, a classier finish, and a cleaner look to the style. While Audi or Mercedes might not be quaking in their lederhosen, it certainly gives Honda and Mazda a run for their money with a soft-touch dash, well padded seats, and controls that work with a fluid action. There are still some areas where compromise has crept in, such as the dials for the infotainment, but this is more nit-picking than any real downside to the Nissan.

Mention of the infotainment system brings us on to another area where Nissan has hauled itself right into contention with the best in this sector. The entry-level trims have a smaller 7-inch screen, so many drivers will choose the N-Connecta model and above for their 9-inch touchscreen that gives a clearer view when you’re on the move. While the look of the screen’s graphics might not be as slick as a Volkswagen Tiguan’s, there’s no doubting how easy the Qashqai’s monitor is to use. It hooks up to your smartphone through Apple CarPlay or Android Auto, and the on-screen icons are bold so they are easy to select on the move. The response from the system is also quick and there are physical shortcut buttons to make life easy, and Tekna trims also come with a wireless phone charging pad as standard.

Nissan, thankfully, also provides proper button and dials for the heater controls. You also have a 10-8-inch head-up display in the Tekna models as standard, though this is not the great boon it sounds like and can be distracting as you drive. However, the 12-3-inch digital dash on upper trim models is good looking and can be easily configure to your preferences.

When it comes to space for people, the Qashqai is back to being one of the best in the sector. The doors open wide to allow easy access to the cabin, and the seats are at just the right height to step straight into or for loading a child seat. Plenty of head, leg and shoulder room is provided for the driver, and you get lots of adjustment in the seat and steering wheel to tweak the driving position. All-round vision is reasonable, but not quite as good as a Ford Kuga’s. However, the Qashqai does deliver an air feel in its cabin.

For those in the back, the three individual seats have good leg and headroom, but the centre seat is a bit narrower and more cramped to the outer pair. There’s no seven-seat option with the Qashqai, but this does mean the boot is a generous 504-litres in size with the rear seats occupied. It might not be the biggest boot in the class, but it’s uncluttered and makes full use of the space. There’s also a false floor that allows you to store valuables underneath.

2021 Nissan Qashqai engines: how does it drive?

The latest Nissan Qashqai has made a concerted effort to move further towards the sporty feel of rivals like the Ford Kuga and SEAT Ateca. For anyone concerned this means Nissan has abandoned any notion of ride comfort, there’s no need to panic. Even on the large 20-inch alloy wheels of the Tekna+ model, there’s still enough compliance in the suspension for the Qashqai to deal with most uneven roads easily. However, if you regularly drive on poorly surfaced routes, one of the lower spec models on 17- or 18-inch wheels will deliver a more cushioned ride.

By looking to make the Qashqai more engaging to drive, it offers decent cornering grip and there’s no excessive body lean. It’s not as much fun as Ford Puma ST, for instance, but there’s none of the roly-poly SUV sloshing from side to side on country roads that can afflict some softly-set cars of this ilk. Light steering is a welcome treat when parking and nipping around town, while on faster journeys it feels stable but without any great feel or feedback to the driver. Then again, few buy an SUV for how sharp the steering response is.

In town, the reversing camera that’s standard on N-Connecta models and above is a boon due to the high-set rear window of the Qashqai, which is a common trait across this type of car. These higher trim versions also have Nissan’s excellent Around View Monitor that gives and aerial overview of the car that makes guiding it into even the smallest parking spot a doddle.

Powering all of this is a pair of 1.3-litre DIG-T turbo petrol engines with mild hybrid set-up. There’s no electric-only driving on offer, but both are reasonably frugal in daily driving. With the lower power engine, you are restricted to the six-speed manual gearbox as your only transmission choice. Opt for the 158hp version and you can pick between the manual and the Xtronic auto. In almost every circumstance, the manual gearbox is the better choice as the CVT auto is noisy when asked to accelerate with any verve.

What is disappointing about these engines is very noticeable lack of any real urge below 2000rpm. It’s very apparent as you try to blend on to roundabouts or pull out of junctions when you would naturally leave the car in second gear. In the Qashqai with the manual ’box, you have to drop to first to avoid this dead patch in the rev band, or plan well ahead so you’re not caught out. Otherwise, the engines are smooth and refined, and the Qashqai is among the more hushed cars in the class at higher speeds.

Value for money: how much does a 2021 Nissan Qashqai cost to buy and run?

There’s little difference between the two engines for fuel economy and emissions. Choose either with the manual gearbox and the official combined carbon dioxide output is the same at 144g/km in N-Connecta trim. In this spec, the two engines also match each other on 43.7mpgh average fuel consumption. That means a first-year road tax payment of £220 for both models and then £155 for the following years.

One of the few ways to split the two is when it comes to insurance costs as, in N-Connecta trim, the less powerful engine sits in group 12 compared to group 18 for the more powerful version. 

With the 140hp engine, you are limited to the manual six-speed manual gearbox and this engine is not an option for the top Tekna+ trim. By the same token, the 158hp motor is not offered with the entry-point Visia spec but you can have it with the Xtronic automatic transmission as well as the manual ’box.

The Visia costs from £24,555 new and has rear parking sensors, automatic headlights, heated door mirrors, and air conditioning. The Acenta Premium has 17-inch alloy wheels, reversing camera, dual-zone air con, an 8-inch infotainment screen, and Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility.

The N-Connecta is the trim that strikes the best value for money balance at £29,190 new with the 140hp engine. It comes with 18-inch alloys, a 9-inch infotainment screen, bird’s eye parking view, front parking sensors, and rear privacy glass. If you want more kit, the Tekna adds even bigger 19-inch wheels, head-up display, 12.3-inch digital dash, powered tailgate, and a glass roof. Top of the pile is the Tekna+ with its 20-inch alloys, leather seats with massage function for the front pair, and Bose stereo. On top of this lot, you might consider two-tone paint or a boot matt if you routinely carry heavier loads.

If you’d like to save some money buying a Qashqai, nearly new cars can be had from Nissan dealers with delivery mileage for £1500 savings. 

Verdict: Should I buy a 2021 Nissan Qashqai?

Nissan has moved the Qashqai on considerably from the previous generation, making it both more practical and appealing as a stylish SUV. It comes with a long list of standard safety equipment, while the drive is sharper without sacrificing comfort or refinement. This puts the Nissan into the top tier of family SUVs, helped by a cabin with plenty of room for people and luggage.

The engines are smooth, but the weak low-rev urge is something you will have to learn to drive around with the manual gearbox. Even so, the Qashqai has very affordable running costs thanks to mild hybrid technology. It has nimble handling and, if you opt for an N-Connecta trim or higher, you get a superb overview parking screen that makes life very easy in cramped spaces.

With prices pitched at the heart of the family SUV class, the Nissan Qashqai is a worthy rival for the likes of the Citroen C5 Aircross, Kia Sportage and SEAT Ateca.

What could I buy instead of a 2021 Nissan Qashqai?

Vauxhall Grandland

The Vauxhall Grandland appeals for its looks, which are among the sharpest in this class. However, it’s the buying proposition that makes the Grandland such a close rival to the Qashqai as it’s keenly priced and there are good deals on leasing packages. Running costs are another strong point for the Vauxhall, especially with the plug-in hybrid model that has many benefits for company car drivers. However, the Grandland is not as good to drive as the Nissan, and it’s not as refined either.

SEAT Ateca

For anyone who wants a bit of sparkle in the way their SUV drives, the SEAT Ateca suggests itself as a top contender. It has a ride and handling balance that few get close to, and it feels much more agile on back lanes than almost every other car in this sector. None of that comes at the expense of the practical stuff and the SEAT has a roomy, well built and appointed interior that’s more than up to the rigours of family use. The Ateca is also keenly priced, though you will have to bear in mind the emissions from its engines are not as low as some others in the segment.

Volvo XC40

Maybe not an obvious rival to the Qashqai, yet the Volvo XC40 is similarly priced to higher trim versions of the Nissan. With the Swede, you’re not just paying for its premium image as it has the substance to stack up as a family SUV. The cabin has its own pared-back style and offers plenty of room front and back for its occupants. The boot isn’t the biggest in the sector, but it’s practical, and as you’d expect of a Volvo it comes with a lengthy roster of safety equipment. Driving manners are another XC40 positive, though you will find it a bit noisier on the motorway than the Qashqai.