Nissan Qashqai 1.5dci (2014) Review

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We like: New styling Fuel efficient engine with good pull New high-tech interior

We dislike: Wind noise off the wing mirrors No rear parking sensors

Nissan claims to have invented the compact SUV segment with the previous-generation Qashqai. It has had to give up some of that market share though as newcomers aplenty have entered the segment from all corners of the globe. A lot depends on this new model if Nissan wants to claim back its perch on top of the pile. We spent a week with the 1.5 turbodiesel and this is how it stacks up.

Lots to like

For starters the new styling is modern and whilst it may look like a lot of other cars built into one, it pulls off a nicely proportioned compact SUV. The pictures actually make it look a fair bit bigger than its compact status suggests. Our unit you see here has already clocked up over 11 000km in less than six months and doesn’t show any ill effects inside or out from its stint as a media mule. There are no rattles yet, all the buttons still feel new and the cloth seats still feel firm and supportive. While 11 000km doesn’t sound like much, in the life of a media car it’s probably worth twice that in the hands of an owner.

Diesel Go

The turbodiesel engine powering this Qashqai is the same unit from the Juke 1.5dci. That means it has 81 kW combined with 260 Nm of torque. It’s a decent engine to drive, it doesn’t feel laggy at the bottom end and mid-range acceleration is impressive. It doesn’t like to be revved though and has quite substantial drop off once you get over mid-way through the rev range. If you keep it revving low and in the torque band it’s a really impressive engine considering the small capacity. The six-speed manual shifter has a light throw action and can just about be moved around the ratios with a single finger flick.

Interior Spec

This particular model has the optional ‘Techno Pack’ that adds cool gadgetry like built-in Sat Nav, heated door mirrors, an around view camera system that gives you a full birds eye view of your car when parking and the Nissan Connect system. The Nissan Connect system is useful for Smartphone connectivity and has cool built in apps like text-to-speech, Facebook and Google search abilities.

The around view camera is handy too when parking, but for some reason isn't specced with actual parking sensors that would make it the full package. Bluetooth and USB are sorted as well as an Aux port. Space is good for a compact SUV with rear occupants not lacking legroom. The rear seats fold flat with the flick of a lever and the loading space is wide enough for those of us who like to toss bikes in the back.

A neat trick with the new instrument cluster is a readout every time the start/stop system is activated that lets you know how much CO2 you’ve saved with the system. There’s also a comparison readout when you turn off the vehicle that lets you know how efficient your current journey was compared to your best ever fuel consumption. Geeky stuff yes, but still fun to try and beat your best.

Ride and Drive

The new Qashqai has a firm ride that helps it stay upright in the corners, it also makes the SUV feel more sporty than it actually is. The steering mode can be adjusted between ‘normal’ and ‘sport’ although the difference isn’t that great and the weighting on normal mode is good as is. The firm ride is still comfortable around town and over the numerous bumps and jerks we have to deal with on a daily basis. Out on the freeway the Qashqai is a pretty good cruiser but the excessive wind noise off the wing mirrors at speed is annoying and detracts from what’s a pleasant driving experience.

Verdict

The new Qashqai improves upon the previous model in all ways and rises to the very top of the compact SUV hierarchy. It’s filled with great features and style, drives well and even in the smallest diesel variant, doesn’t feel laboured. The rest of the Qashqai lineup features high-tech, low emission turbocharged motors so they are all extremely fuel efficient as well. For these reasons alone it’s probably the first compact SUV I’d recommend to someone looking in this segment.

Second Opinion

The Nissan Qashqai ticks so many boxes and it's just a fantastic all-round vehicle. Combined with a solid performing engine and a generous helping of tech and gadgets, the second generation Nissan Qashqai is sure to continue the success story. Brilliant both inside and out. -David Taylor

Also consider:

Ford Kuga Volkswagen Tiguan Kia Sportage

You can see the head-to-head comparison between the Nissan, Ford and VW here.

Nissan Qashqai 1.5dci Acenta quick specs

Price  R330 500 (base price)
Engine  1.5-litre four-cylinder turbodiesel
Power  81 kW
Torque  260 Nm
Transmission  6-speed manual
Wheels  17-inch alloys
0-100km/h  11.9 seconds (claimed)
Fuel economy  4.2L/100 km (claimed)

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