+ Great used selection
+ Nice to drive
+ Spacious interior
- Smaller boot than some rivals
- No seven-seat version in this generation
- Outgunned by newer rivals
Verdict: Massive sales success doesn’t come without good cause, and the Nissan Qashqai proves its mettle as a crossover to suit the masses. The facelifted models from 2017 onward benefit from better engines and improvements to the interior.
Used Nissan Qashqai (2014-2021) review: the five-minute read
If ever there was a car that could be described as a phenomenon it is the Nissan Qashqai. It went on sale in 2007 and was an immediate success, not only kick-starting a crossover craze but setting a high bar for rivals to follow. Hence it was a tough job for Nissan when it came to the follow-up album in the form of this second-generation Qashqai, but it didn’t disappoint.
A modern look with a striking design gave the Nissan a more athletic stance. Some growth in size saw it become longer and wider, but it also became slightly lower. Not that the latter made a great deal of difference as improvements to the layout of the interior created better space with a 10mm increase in headroom. More space between the front seats comes as the result of an electronic handbrake taking up less room, while nicer materials add to the overall quality.
With the Qashqai being designed and developed in the UK, its on-road performance doesn’t come in for much criticism. A lot of people like how it drives much like a car rather than a taller SUV. You still get that elevated driving position that many crave, yet it remains a very manoeuvrable car in tighter confines. You’re not going to have much trouble squeezing into a supermarket car parking space in this. All models bar the entry-grade Visia model get a reversing camera, but it still has front and rear parking sensors.
Most of the main touchpoints have a good feel, but searching around will reveal some cheaper plastics. The centre console’s gloss black surround scratches easily and is a magnet for dust.
Look for the Tekna specification if you want higher quality upholstery as it gets part leather trim, while the Tekna+ benefits from black Nappa leather trim and an electrically adjustable driver’s seat. Its D-shaped (or flat-bottomed) steering wheel has multifunction controls that are simple to use.
You won’t find much road and wind noise getting into the cabin when on the move. The suspension does a fine job of soaking up surface imperfections and ensuring keen handling characteristics. Steering is light yet responsive, and even though most Qashqais are front-wheel drive, it feels surefooted in all conditions. The larger 19-inch wheels may look better, but these do detract from the overall ride quality. So if you prioritise comfort, seek out a model with smaller wheels.
If you tend to spend hours on the motorway each week, look to the diesel engine options as these will provide you with relatively economical running. The 1.5-litre diesel gives away a little in outright pace but tends to sip less fuel. However, if you frequently have a full car or tow, the larger 1.7-litre diesel is worth having.
Don’t be put off by the prospect of a 1.2- or 1.3-litre petrol engine. If you’re keeping closer to home, either of these engines will be fine for short journeys and aren’t gutless either when it comes to power and performance.
You’ll find no shortage of crossover models these days. Some will offer more space, some are cheaper, and there are plenty that cost more, but the Nissan Qashqai ticks a lot of the right boxes for many people.
The instrument dials are very clear and easy to read. Nissan fits a 5-inch TFT display in the centre of this cluster, and this is where you can see relevant driving data, including information like road sign recognition.
Early versions of the second generation Qashqai used a round steering wheel with multifunction controls. With the introduction of the facelifted model in 2017, Nissan upgraded this to a D-shaped wheel with better material quality and a new layout for the controls to make them easier to use.
The centre console has a clear layout with physical control for the frequently used items such as temperature settings and volume. An electronic handbrake sits ahead of the gear selector with a 12-volt power socket next to it.
Nissan’s touchscreen display is a seven-inch unit and in later models included smartphone mirroring with Android Auto and Apple CarPlay. Physical shortcut buttons on either side make it simple and easy to use on the move. All versions get parking sensors and the reversing camera on some models includes a 360-degree view.
Higher spec Tekna models came with a panoramic glass roof as standard, but this does cut into overall headroom. Part leather upholstery also features on this version, while the Tekna+ gets leather upholstery throughout.
Although the Nissan Qashqai is a big hit with families, the boot isn’t the best in its class. Measuring in at 430 litres gives it more space than your average hatchback but leaves it lagging behind rivals like the Kia Sportage, Skoda Karoq, and its close relation, the Renault Kadjar. Folding the rear seats forward expands the cargo space to 1,598 litres. Nissan also uses a nifty luggage board to create an underfloor space for keeping items out of view.
Those sitting in the rear will find decent levels of headroom, especially if it’s a model without the panoramic glass roof. There’s enough kneeroom thanks to how the backs of the front seats are shaped. Easy access to ISOFIX anchor points in both outer seats is convenient for parents. A fold-down armrest provides some extra comfort when the middle seat isn’t in use.
When this second-generation Nissan Qashqai went on sale, it was available with 1.2-litre and 1.6-litre petrol engines and a 1.5-litre and 1.6-litre diesel. That smallest petrol engine suits the Nissan if you don’t typically cover considerable distances, but with 113bhp and 190Nm, it has modest performance. Like the 1.2 petrol, the smaller of the two diesel engines is just as nice to drive even though it had 108bhp versus the 1.6’s 128bhp.
Nissan revamped the engine offering in 2017 when the Qashqai came in for a mid-cycle refresh. This update saw the smallest petrol engine upgrade to a slicker 1.3-litre unit that came in 138bp form with a six-speed manual and a more powerful 158bhp version. This version came with either a six-speed manual or a seven-speed dual-clutch automatic that was far superior to the previous automatic’s CVT unit.
The choice of two diesel engines continued with the same 113bhp 1.5-litre, and this was also available with an automatic DCT alongside the six-speed manual. A larger 1.7-litre diesel became available in 2019 and offered 148bhp and 340Nm of torque.
As is often the case with most crossover like the Qashqai, few owners are likely to go venturing off-road in it, but Nissan does offer a four-wheel-drive transmission with the 1.7-litre diesel. Even if you aren’t going mud-plugging, those living in more remote or rural areas may appreciate the added traction. That larger capacity four-cylinder diesel also has the highest towing capacity at 2,000kg braked or 750kg unbraked.
You only have to spend a few minutes behind the wheel of a Nissan Qashqai to realise why it is such a popular model. One of the properties that helped the Qashqai define the crossover segment was that it drives in a familiar way to people switching from a hatchback. You get the raised driving position for better visibility, yet it doesn’t feel unwieldy to drive.
The light steering setup means it’s a doddle to drive in town and park. All versions have parking sensors and most get a reversing camera. Combining these elements with its size means you’ll never have an issue getting in or out of a tight parking spot. The Nissan keeps its composure out of town, whether it’s tackling flowing country roads or soaking up a motorway schlep.
Nissan equips each Qashqai with chassis control systems to improve stability at speed. Several models include lane departure warning and autonomous emergency braking, with higher-grade versions getting traffic jam pilot function and intelligent cruise control.