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Nissan Qashqai 2017 review – Capable crossover but no charisma

The crossover’s original arrival in 2007 perfectly matched the needs and wants of British drivers (and indeed drivers globally) who want the raised command driving position of an off-roader, without the running costs, or go-anywhere ability of a 4×4.

And while more and more manufacturers jump on to the crossover bandwagon at all levels (six manufacturers launched their own small crossovers at the recent Frankfurt Motor Show alone), the fact is that the Qashqai has creditably sustained its popularity despite the additional competition.

Last year the Nissan was the fifth best-selling car in the UK with 62,682 sales and more than 40,000 of them have left showrooms so far this year.

This isn’t so much a success story as a phenomenon.

Its capability at almost all levels means that its success story is sure to go on for some time yet

The only trouble is that, phenomenon or not, the Nissan Qashqai could never be accused of being the most interesting set of wheels on the road.

Even more so after the second generation model arrived in 2013, it wasn’t without appeal, but it was just a bit, well, dull. Kind of like a bowl of bran flakes.

They do the job and fill you up but you’re hardly going to be bounding down the stairs first thing in the morning, barely able to contain your enthusiasm until you eat them again.

That’s something that Nissan has been keen to rectify with this latest mid-life facelift.

Nissan QashqaiPH

Nissan Qashqai Price: from £25,555

Nissan QashqaiPH

Nissan Qashqai Engine: Turbo-diesel – 1.5-litre

There’s now a new, sharper, and more distinctive look with LED headlights front and rear plus a new front grille, new bonnet, alloy wheel designs and a new rear bumper.

To our eyes it’s worked too. OK, so it’s still not a stand-out-from-the-crowd design, like the Renault Kadjar or Peugeot 3008, but it’s still a noticeable improvement with a lot more character compared to its somewhat bland predecessor.

The engine in our test car was the entry-level 1.5-litre turbo-diesel with 110bhp in two-wheel drive form.

Despite some of the negative publicity towards the black pump of late, it’s hard to see that changing in cars like this any time soon, given the economy benefits.

Although there’s also a more powerful 130bhp 1.6-litre car (using the same engine as our long-term Renault Scenic), this Qashqai doesn’t disgrace itself on paper too much.

Having said that, the 11.9-second 0 to 60mph time and 113mph top speed won’t set the world alight. At least the 99g/km emissions and 74.3mpg average fuel economy are some recompense.

The only problem is that the engine, despite being the same as in our Scenic, is noticeably noisier in this Qashqai – particularly when starting from cold.

The same goes for the manual gearbox fitted to our car, which frequently felt a little cumbersome when moving through the gears.

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Nissan Qashqai Power: 0 to 60mph in 11.9 seconds

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Nissan Qashqai Fuel economy: 74.3mpg

That’s a shame as the Nissan’s on-road manners are otherwise largely inoffensive. It’s still not the most involving car to drive and, although the ride quality is OK, the tyres are sensitive to the road surface when it came to noise levels.

Overall it does what’s asked and nothing more.

You’ll arrive at your destination comfortable and reasonably fresh but you’re unlikely to have a smile on your face. Is that such a factor when it comes to a family car like this?

Perhaps not, but when the likes of the Peugeot 3008 feel more involving, it’s likely to become more so. Then again, it’s hard to fault the Qashqai’s interior from almost any angle.

The build quality is excellent and the materials throughout the cabin have noticeably improved.

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Nissan Qashqai CO2 emissions: 99g/km

The seats are more supportive and there’s plenty of storage and space throughout the cabin, a crucial factor for a family car.

Overall the dash is good, though it’s a sign of the times that the infotainment screen is already looking and feeling a bit dated with small buttons on the side that are hard to use on the move without taking your eyes off the road.

Space in the rear is good too, even for taller adults, although there are no USB charging points for those in the back and there’s also no Isofix child seat mounting point on the front passenger seat as with Renault.

And while the boot is reasonably spacious, if a little shallow, it’s odd to provide a false floor with a close-to-unusable pocket underneath. Overall, it’s hard to step out of the Qashqai hating it.

While it may not stand out in any particular area it doesn’t fall flat anywhere, either. But it’s definitely an improvement and that’s all the excuse continuing high numbers of British drivers will need to buy it.

It may still be a little lacking in terms of charisma but it’s capability at almost all levels means that its success story is sure to go on for some time yet.

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Nissan Qashqai Top speed: 113mph

Logbook Lowdown

Price: from £25,555

Engine: Turbo-diesel – 1.5-litre

Power: 0 to 60mph in 11.9 seconds, 113mph top speed

Fuel economy: 74.3mpg

CO2 emissions: 99g/km

Rivals: Ford Kuga, Peugeot 3008, Renault Kadjar, VW Tiguan

Rating: 8/10

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