FEW people will have seen the real Qashqai.
These are the people who make up the tribe that wanders the deserts of South West Iran. But lots of people will have seen the Nissan Qashqai, which borrowed the nomads’ identity and wandered all over the world’s car markets, to critical acclaim.
Looking back 10 years to when the Qashqai wa launched, we penned a piece under the headline “Nissan’s urban nomad is a brave move”. At the time it was radical.
The car replaced three unloved and decidedly lacklustre models, the Primera, Almera, and Almera Tino, a small MPV that was actually quite good at its job.
The Qashqai was Nissan’s “What the hell…” moment and thankfully for the workforce at the Japanese maker’s Sunderland plant it succeeded to a spectacular degree.
Nissan has sold a more than a million Qashqai models and the car is now in its third generation. In Europe, its top markets are the UK and Russia but the Italians, Germans, and Spanish also love it.
So great has been its influence that when AutoExpress published its list of the 50 greatest British cars the Qashqai was in there at number 11. Even the Range Rover Evoque only achieved number 30!
Look at a Qashqai today and you might think it appears very similar to the first models to roll out of Sunderland back in 2007. But there’s far more detail to the design with advanced styling features that make some rivals still look quite staid.
It doesn’t go to the extremes of the smaller Juke, which is all hips and width, but has inherited some of the smaller car’s flowing curves, this time in sensible proportions.
One thing buyers need to avoid is the 19-inch wheel option that, when combined with low profile tyres, gives a hard edge to the ride that is detrimental to comfort levels. Cars like this just don’t need that kind of add-on shod with 45 profile Dunlop Sportmaxx tyres.
Looking back to our original Qashqai test, we had the 1.5 litre dCi in Accenta trim with a list price of £16,099, just about enough to buy a decently-equipped supermini these days.
This time round, Nissan sent a 1.6 dCi Tekna costing £28,590 including the £575 for metallic paint. It’s a fair old leap but in exchange you get a lot more car, even if they look very much the same size. And, to be fair, if you don’t want all the Tekna kit you can be mobile in a Qashqai for only £18,955, a bargain price.
The generational difference is most significant under the skin. There are now better crash structures – at its launch the Qashqai was already the highest-scoring car in EuroNCAP tests – and driver aids thanks to advances in technology.
The modern Qashqai presents its driver with a vast amount of information, down to the current speed limit display and sat-nav, the latter keeping the former up to speed with pinpoint accuracy.
Without sounding like luddites, we still spend a couple of quid a year on a large scale AA road atlas and make do with that. I can’t remember when we last programmed a sat-nav to deliver us anywhere and even if you do rely on electronic guidance you still need to have a good idea of where it should be taking you before you set out!
Wasted miles mean wasted fuel but the Nissan is thankfully great on the economy front.
The car is now heavier and more complicated, powered by a gutsier and slightly larger engine. But the payback from modern engineering comes at the pumps with today’s test car delivering a 53mpg average, a 12.7 per cent improvement over the 2007 car’s 47mpg.
Qashqai has always been about maximising space and this has also improved – not by a huge margin but with the seats down there’s 1,585 litres of capacity, an increase of 62 litres and likely to be appreciated by families who always find plenty to take on a trip. Hobbyists will also like this Qashqai’s 1.8 tonne towing capacity, the same whether you have the front wheel drive of the test car or go for the full-fat 4×4 which lifts the price by another £1,740.
Maurice and Annette Hardy
Car: Nissan Qashqai Tekna dCi 130
Does it fit your ego…
0-62mph: 9.9 secs
Top speed: 118mph
PS: 130 @ 4,000 rpm
Torque: 320 nm @ 1,750 rpm
…and your wallet…
CO2 emissions: 120 g/km
Best bits: roomy body with compact dimensions (just like 2007!)