Test Drive: Nissan Qashqai mHEV XTronic 2WD: Will the former king regain its crown ?

The Qashqai was launched back in 2007 and it was an instant hit, selling like hot cakes. Sure, there was not much competition and the Qashkai made the most of it. By the time the second generation arrived, in 2014 it was another story : the segment was much more crowded and it was a follower rather and a leader. Now on its third generation, focusing more on style and technology, can this Nissan make it back to the top of sales charts ?

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The new Qashqai was launched last year and is currently available with a small 1300 cc lump delivering either 140 or 158 horsepower. We just tested the most powerful engined version  and enjoyed it. The Nissan SUV manages to keep its weight under 1,500 kg, no mean feat these days ! The engine is seconded by a continuously variable transmission which pretends to change gears (using electronic software), in a totally artificial way. However, it managed to bring a more pleasant driving experience than say, what we were used to with the first Toyota hybrids, for example.

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I like it

Nissan clearly focused on design with rather sharp lines at the front. To be honest, it’s a bit of a mess : there are too many sharp lines for our liking, even if our test car’s white colour sort of makes the front end appear tidier, especially at the bumper level. This lends it some personality but it could also put off some punters. You either like it or loathe it. Nevertheless, high flanks and a rather conservative rear end treatment are less divisive elements while the big wheels also contribute to its concept car look.

All-new Nissan Qashqai: elevating the drive

Quite clever

Inside our top-of-the-range version is a neat and well designed dashboard. The screens have a decent size and there are still some physical switches for the aircon and the infotainment system sound level, even if the graphics are a bit dated. Apple Carplay (wireless) and Android Auto (wired) are standard features. However, the controls are split between the instruments binacle and the central panel, making them a bit fiddly to use. More than anything else, this is probably a Nissan idiosyncracy and once used to it, it’s quite fine.

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I don’t like it

Some interior plastics are pretty low grade but the Qashqai prices are still affordable compared to some other brands’ upmarket pretensions. Even though it’s the sort of things that are not clear cut, some shortcuts can be identified here and there. Under the bonnet, the engine has no plastic cover, for example. Or the rather flimsy and brittle boot cover.

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Why I buy it

Without being overly dynamic, the 2022 Nissan Qashqai is lively and pleasant to drive. It even retains one of its trademark strenghts : comfort ! The seats are welcoming, even in the back. You can even choose between a beam and a multi-link rear axle, depending on your intended use of the car. Knee room in the back is quite good, too. The doors open at an 85 degrees angle, easing access where and when it’s possible to fully open them. The standard safety kit is quite complete while the basic price remains quite competitive at  € 30,090 for the Visia version. This will get you a 140hp mHEV engine mated to a 6-speed manual gearbox and front-wheel drive. Our test car was priced at €45,790.

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Why I don’t buy it

Adding a 12V micro-hybrid system does not guarantee low fuel consumption values. We averaged 8.5 l/100 km without making full use  of the small 4-cylinder engine 270 Nm torque. Both the automatic gearbox and big wheels don’t help either. Some plastics are definitely feeling too cheap for our taste. Even if the Qashqai remains more affordable and attractive  than some of its competitors, its prices went up since its last Summer launch… (Translation: Dimitri Urbain)

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