Qashqai proves strong yet frugal
Nissan’s new Qashqai is a dependable, safe and comfortable performer on the road.
The Nissan Qashqai has been a big success in Ireland, with more than 4,000 cars sold last year. Looking like a small SUV/MPV, it has a very practical, high-seating position that appeals to adults and children alike. Yet. under the skin, this is a regular family car, so the downsides of the true MPV – weight, bulk, higher fuel consumption and, now, higher taxes – are all mostly absent. These are the factors that have been persuading buyers, particularly those with small families, that the Qashqai is what they need.
In the second half of last year, Nissan widened the appeal of the Qashqai by bringing out the ‘+2′ version which, as the name suggests, has two extra, fold-away seats in a body which is now higher and has been lengthened by 21cm. The wheelbase. too, has grown in this case by 13cm — and the vehicle has put on an extra 100kg in weight.The extra weight suggests that, perhaps, the smallest engines, perfectly well-suited to the five-scater model, might struggle in the bigger, heavier machine, particularly when operating at full capacity.
This was certainly not the case with the test model, which was powered by the well-proven two-litre common rail diesel engine of Renault origin. In this particular application, the engine develops 150bhp and 320Nm torque, certainly sufficient for all the demands which the average owner is likely to place on it.The vehicle in question was front-wheel drive, but four-wheel drive is also available, which could be of interest to those living in hilly districts. A six-speed manual gearbox is standard.
With these levels of power and torque, there was never any doubt that performance would be satisfactory, and so it proved in practice. From rest to 100km/h took only 10.9 seconds, and top speed is quoted at 190km/h. In everyday use, the car is never short of power, providing the engine is revving towards 2,ooorpm, where maximum torque is developed. Much below that figure and turbo-lag becomes evident, which requires a change to a lower gear. In general, this is a refined, quiet engine, though some direct injection clatter is noticed for awhile after starting up in the morning. Also, it is necessary on a cold morning to wait for the glow plug operating light to extinguish to be sure of a first-time start.
Despite its two-litre capacity, this is a frugal engine. Overall consumption during the test worked out at 7.01/ 100km. This included quite an amount of city driving, and those who have less demanding runs should see an even better result.The vehicle’s carbon figure is 177g/km, resulting in Band E VRTand an annual road tax of EUR630.
Where handling and roadholding are concerned,the Qashqai+2 is not all that different from its five-seater sibling. It has McPherson strut front suspension and an independent, multi-link, rear setup, so the basic engineering is sound. In the event, this provides dependable handling and roadholding under most conditions. However, under certain cornering conditions in the wet, the front can start to lose grip earlier than one might expect. For this reason, those who live in areas where roads are not well-maintained, or which have higher-thanaverage rainfall, could well consider the four-wheel drive model, though this will add up to EUR2,600 to the bill.
Comfort is a good point. Few road conditions are capable of upsetting the suspension and passengers are well looked after in this regard.
In a vehicle where many children will be passengers, safety is a prime concern. When the original Qashqai was tested by EuroNCAP in 2007, it returned an excellent score, the best to date at that time. The new +2 version has not been tested yet, but there is little reason to believe it will differ in any serious regard. A further safety plus is that electronic stability control (ESC) is standard on all models, a feature which can be of life-saving importance in an emergency.
There have been few criticisms so far, but when we come to that ‘+2′ bit, there are both plus and minus points to consider. The big plus is that seven passengers can now be carried; the minus factor is that the extra seats are really suitable only for children, preferably those who have not yet reached the teenage growth spurt. The seats themselves are goodsized and reasonably easy to access, thanks to longer rear doors.
When folded down, they also give a completely fiat surface in the boot. However, when upright, the sitting position is very close to the floor, so occupants are in a distinctly ‘knees-up’ posture. Also, headroom is limited to those less than 1.6 metres tall.
Passengers in the middle row of seats are much better off, as this seat has fore-andaft movement of 240mm, giving the option of comfortable leg room or extra luggage space.
Also, as that seat is divided in three – 40/20/40 – when only two passengers are being carried, the central portion can be folded into an arm rest, which has some storage space. There is also a very large panoramic glass roof available.
Up front, nothing has changed from the regular, five-seater Qashqai, so the driver is well-positioned behind the wheel, and the controls function properly. Some points to note are poor rear visibility through the mam interior mirror, while the external mirrors seem to protrude quite a bit be careful of them. Radar parking sensors are certainly well worth having.
The seats are comfortable and, a well-positioned left foot rest helps the driver on longer main road trips. Few will complain about the quality of the materials used, and the fit and finish is very good, too.
All round, the Qashqai+2 is a vehicle well suited to a family with younger children.