Nissan’s Qashqai has arrived on UK shores.


Charlie McCarron trials the 1.5 diesel model to see how it performs


Nissan’s new Qashqai (pronounced Cash-Kai) takes its name from a nomadic tribe in the Iranian desert, but that’s probably the last place you’re likely to see one.


It’s not so much a 4×4 as one that pretends to be, considering the majority of the cars will only be front wheel drive – unless you specify a 2.0-litre engine, at which point a version of Nissan’s All-Mode 4×4 system from the X-Trail becomes an optional extra.


The Qashqai is more designed for the family hatchback and Sports Utility Vehicle sectors and indeed isn’t intended for serious off-road use. Much like Honda’s recent

CRV the new Nissan is something between the intrusive (say a Range Rover V12) and the subtle (say a Toyota Rav4).


Nissan is proud of the Quasqai’s heritage in that it was designed in London,  engineered and developed at the Nissan Technical Centre in Bedfordshire and is built at the Sunderland plant – creating 500 new jobs – making it possibly the

most British car to be mass-produced today.


In terms of engine availability Nissan offers four in total, 1.6 and 2.0-litre petrol – boasting 115hp and 140hp respectively – and Renault supplied 1.5 and 2.0-litre diesel – 106hp and 150hp. But the 2.0-litre oil-burner isn’t available until June of this year.


Three trim levels – from entry to top spec – named Visia, Acenta and Tekna, are available on all engines.


Interestingly these badges don’t appear on the vehicle so you can opt for the low-spec version safe in the knowledge that only “Qashqai nerds” will be able to differentiate

The suspension seems too soft and there is a tendency to under-steer when cornering hard. A stiffer suspension set-up would help. However, feedback through the steering wheel is remarkably good and really lets you know what the front rubber is up to.


Annoyingly this model is only available in two-wheel drive – fourwheel  drive is only available on the 2.0-litre models – a factor which almost resulted in an embarrassing

moment when we ventured into a field to get some photos.


At the flick of a switch the car can be transformed into a portable greenhouse via the optional £700 panoramic glass roof, aiding the already bright and airy interior fi tted

with the chocolate and orange trim.


The Acenta mid-level spec is surprisingly well kitted out and only lacks the groovy heated leather seating – with contrasting stitching – xenon headlights and a Nissan’s

keyless entry intelligent Key. Sat Nav is an option on mid-spec and top-spec models.


Overall this isn’t a car that many farmers will want to part with cashfor, although if the family needs a 4×4 wannabe runabout then the 1.5dCi Qashqai could be it, with

an OTR price of £16,099, a claimed fuel economy of 52mpg and insurance

group 5 – that’s the same as a Peugeot 306 turbo diesel – it should

be economical to run.


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