Nissan is on Qash course

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Nissan is looking to prolong the Qashqai’s stay at the top of the sales charts with some further improvements.

It’s hard to pin the Nissan Qashqai down into a particular sector of the market because it combines elements of compact 4x4, family hatch and compact MPV.

What’s really important is that it works. The Qashqai handles well, has lots of space inside, particularly in seven-seat +2 guise and feels very well built.

Now with the option of an eco-friendly stop-start system and a little more power for entry-level petrol and diesel models, it’s even better placed.

Nissan struck gold when it launched the Qashqai.

The market was already packed with compact 4x4 vehicles and Nissan’s own X-Trail was one of the more successful ones but people were buying these off-road-capable family cars with no intention of driving them off-road.

The Qashqai ditched any pretence that it might be suited to the occasional foray up a dried-out river bed and concentrated on riding and handling in a car-like manner for the road journeys owners would undertake. Retaining the option of all-wheel-drive, the elevated driving position and the chunky design cues of the compact 4x4, Nissan’s crossover was all the 4x4 most buyers needed and sales were brisk.

Inevitably, rival manufacturers got a sniff of the Qashqai’s success and either shunted their compact 4x4s in a more road-biased direction or came up with all-new crossover vehicles to challenge for a piece of the Qashqai’s action.

Nissan has no intention of letting that happen and has upped the game of the latest facelifted models in a number of areas that include provision of an eco-friendly stop-start system.

There’s a wide choice of engines available to Qashqai customers with two diesels and two petrol powerplants to consider.

Things start off with an uprated 1.6-litre 117bhp petrol unit and move up through a beefier 110bhp 1.5dCi diesel and 140bhp 2.0-litre petrol units before topping-out with the 150bhp 2.0-litre dCi diesel.

Nissan hasn’t skimped when it comes to transmission choices either, the Qashqai being supplied with five and six-speed manual boxes, a six-speed auto option and even an advanced Constantly Variable Transmission (CVT).

The Qashqai drives in an assured manner on the road and feels more like a conventional family hatchback than a 4x4 with its supple suspension and absence of body roll.

The latest cars have revised suspension settings to improve things further in this area and refinement that’s boosted by multi-layer insulation in the front bulkhead and a special soundproof windscreen.

The ALL-MODE 4x4 system is available on the 2.0-litre vehicles, with the others sending drive to the front wheels only.

This is an electronic system which automatically engages four-wheel drive the moment a loss of traction is detected. It offers more safety and security in extreme weather on-road.

Nissan makes no bones of the fact that the Qashqai is anything but an off-roader, citing its lack of ground clearance.

What precludes it from tackling rutted tracks makes it a better car on the blacktop, the hunkered down centre of gravity giving the Nissan its nimble feel.

A more aggressive frontal styling treatment marks out the latest Qashqai from its pre-facelift forbear.