The outgoing petrol Qashqai was well-received by Autocar with our only criticism being that the entry-level 1.2 113bhp didn’t have much pulling power below 1750rpm. The same claim doesn’t ring true here: in the new equivalent, the turbocharged 138bhp 1.3-litre, has a far smoother and quicker response at low revs and beyond than previously.
Before, the benchmark sprint was achieved in 11.3secs; now it’s 10.5secs. All in all, acceleration is more spirited and there’s ample pull for any desired overtaking maneouvres. The engine is also admirably quiet.
Jumping into the higher-powered 158bhp Qashqai briefly, we noticed only a little difference between the two engines. The 158bhp is naturally more sprightly but when you consider the 138bhp unit’s flexible, willing performance, plus its £1500 cheaper list price, it’s the clear winner of the two unless you expect to carry a full load regularly.
That said, if you’re all about more power, there’s an unexpected similarity between the two 1.3-litre engines: they both offer the same CO2 emissions and fuel economy, 121g/km and 53.3mpg respectively on 17in wheels, meaning it will cost you little more in running costs. That rises to 130g/km and 49.6mpg if you have 18in or 19in wheels.
The introduction of petrol engines has had no effect on the Qashqai’s excellent driving credentials. It has long been considered a driver’s car for the compact SUV segment, and it still is. Ride is excellent, though the Seat Ateca has the edge on handling and enjoyment behind the wheel. It’s just that little bit more lively.
The second major change is the infotainment system. The second-generation Qashqai moved the game on plenty on this front. But in a fast-moving technology-led age, there’s more to be done.
Now, NissanConnect offers Apple Carplay or Android Auto compatibility on all but entry-level trim, over-the-air updates and an all-new app, called Door-to-Door navigation. It introduces an increasingly common function in car connectivity of allowing user to plan a route before leaving home, sending the destination to the car to start route guidance. There’s also a better search function in the sat nav which prompts destinations called ‘Single line search’, something requested by customers, said Nissan.
There are fewer hard buttons around than before, and more can be done via the 7-inch touchscreen, with Nissan saying it was benchmarked against an Apple iPad.
In reality, the screen seems very small compared to rivals, and the ‘pinch and pull’ functionality as found an iPad doesn’t respond very well. It’s guilty of what many modern touchscreens are: promising instant feedback and not being able to deliver, something that can be very distracting when driving versus a good old-fashioned button. The map, which can now be viewed in 3D, also has an archaic design, but its functionality is as good as a better-looking equivalent.
Essentially, the system now has more to offer than some rivals in terms of features, but the overall system and design of that system still needs an overhaul to match up to the aesthetics and intuitiveness of, well let’s be frank, German-based equivalents, the Skoda Karoq and Seat Ateca.