In late 2013 we were privileged enough to be invited to an undisclosed location in the deepest, darkest depths of Oxfordshire to test drive what has recently been announced as What Car?’s Car of the Year 2014. That’s right, Nissans new Qashqai is being touted to at least live up to, if not exceed its older brothers name for quality, efficiency and driving pleasure. Some would argue that What Car awarding it its highest accolade is proof it already has. But what did we think?
When you see the new Qashqai sat next to the old model in person it is clear the it has made a stylistic jump. The car is longer, lower and wider than the previous model, noticeably so in fact, and this adds to its slightly sportier and more imposing feel. This is further reinforced by the cars large alloys and sleek headlights.
The 2014 Nissan Qashqai has been built to the mantra of connectivity, comfort and control. With this in mind the Tekna models really do provide you with a plethora of connectivity, comfort and control options. All cars feature a 5″ TFT monitor in the instrument cluster which is a nice addition that provides you with important information almost in your line of sight. The higher spec Tekna models really push the boat out however with the addition of a 7″ touch screen in the dashboard powered by Nissan Connect. Amongst a wide range of functions Nissan Connect allows you to Send To Car, remotely check your fuel, the weather and even find a close by restaurant.
The Super Safe Nissan Qashqai
The infotainment system also comes with a DAB digital radio and smartphone connectivity as standard on all models, but we kind of expected that it would. The 2014 Qashqai also pioneers Nissan Safety Shield which is a package of safety features designed to assist the driver in their day to day life. Nissan Safety Shield includes front collision avoidance, blind spot warnings, road sign recognition, lane departure warnings, high beam assist and fatigue alert. Not only do all these measure protect the car’s occupants but they also lower its insurance band significantly. This is only available on the Tekna or Acenta Premium models.
Cars with Safety Shield Technology also come with an Intelligent Parking Assist System that does more than assist really. The car needs just 40 mm of space all around it to be able to park itself quickly and efficiently. You can see it in action in the video below.
The new Qashqai comes in four variants. Visia has the lowest trim level, Acenta occupies the middle ground, Acenta premium is the standard Acenta model plus the aforementioned Nissan Connect and Safety Shield packages and finally the Tekna package includes every bit of equipment Nissan could squeeze in.
On our test drive we were given the privilege of getting behind the wheel of the 1.2 Visia, 1.2 Tekna and 1.6 Dci Tekna. What struck us most about 1.2 models was just how nippy and how much pull they actually have, considering the size of the vehicle as well. Putting your foot to the floor really does create some noticeable ‘go’ in these models. Other than the surprising acceleration the Visia model performed as expected. Road noise was slightly more noticeable than hoped and the steering was slightly too light for our liking. We were later told there are two steering settings and that changing it would have made the handling heavier but unfortunately we didn’t get a chance to test that. Overall though the quality level was good and the car felt sturdy and safe, one of the most important things when it comes to crossovers as family cars.
Go Tekna Or Go Home
If the 1.2 petrol’s had some pull the 1.6 had A LOT. When putting your foot to the floor the engine roars satisfyingly (as only a diesel can) and the car pulls away rapidly. The handling felt slightly heavier which we welcomed, whether this was due to the heavier engine that was sat in the bay in front of us we don’t know. With this one being the Tekna model as well it certainly looked and felt more premium than the Visia. It is also worth noting that the 1.5 dci has an unbelievable fuel economy of 74.3 mpg!
The seats were full leather and nicely heated (perfect for a December test drive!) On top of this the 7″ touch screen was intuitive and easy to navigate. We were also really impressed with the 5″ TFT screen that is nestled nicely in the centre of the instrument cluster. Utilising the cars sign reading capabilities it keeps you constantly updated on what the current speed limit is (the change was instantaneous when we passed a change in speed limit sign) and whether you are exceeding it. It also recommends what gear you should have the car in at any given time to optimise fuel efficiency and performance. It is also worth noting that on all models interior space is ample and the regal driving position will appeal to many.
Overall then, do we feel the new Qashqai is worthy of What Car?’s highest accolade? Yes, if they’re talking about the Tekna model. The simple fact is the new Qashqai takes the original crossover, the already award winning car and makes it that bit better, that bit more stylish and that bit more intuitive. The amount of safety assistance that is available in the higher spec models is staggering and the overall finish and look of the car is also fantastic. If you’re looking for a spacious, stylish and intuitive family vehicle we suggest you stop looking and invest in a Qashqai.
If you are interesting in leasing a new Nissan Qashqai you can do so on our website here with basic lease rates starting from £174.99 PM and Tekna lease rates starting at £221.87.
More Nissan Qashqai images (click to enlarge):
Written by Ryan Hill