Parkers overall rating: 3.9 out of 5 3.9
  • Economical range of engines
  • Performance not a high priority
  • Manual, automatic and 4WD available

A range of four engines providing power for the Nissan Qashqai - there are two diesels and a pair of petrols.

All are turbocharged and fitted with a start-stop system that automatically cuts the engine in certain situations when the car is stationary to save fuel and reduce emissions. It restarts automatically, quickly and easily when you’re ready to set off again.

Frugal dCi diesel engines 

Kicking off the diesel range is a Renault-sourced 1.5-litre dCi diesel engine that's been around for a while. At launch it produced 110hp (badged dCi 110), later being increased to 115hp (the dCi 115) in 2018.

While it’s the same basic engine from the previous Qashqai, it’s quieter, smoother and more economical than it was in its before. With 115hp and 260Nm of torque it’s not the quickest, but it’ll suit most buyers’ requirements and is the most economical engine in the range. Nissan quotes figures of 113mph and a 0-62mph time of 11.9 seconds, so expect performance to be no more than adequate for a vehicle of this size.

Nevertheless, it’s quiet during normal driving, only becoming noisy when extended, and no worse than most other diesels. Its extra torque over the entry-level petrol makes it easier to drive in many respects. A DCT dual-clutch transmission was introduced to this engine option in 2018, giving buyers the choice of manual or automatic, rather than just manual.

Joining the range in 2019 is a 1.7-litre diesel, the dCi 150, which replaced the 1.6-litre dCi 130. This 150hp unit has a choice of the choice of manualtransmissions with front-wheel drive, manual or CVT automatic if you opt for four-wheel drive.

Top speed of the dCi 150 2WD manual is 119mph with a 0-62mph time of 9.5 seconds. Nissan claims identical figures for the 4WD manual, but when fitted with the CVT automatic they change to 120mph and 11.2 seconds, respectively.

Impressive DIG-T petrol engines

Late in 2018, Nissan added a new 1.3-litre turbocharged petrol to the line-up, an engine shared with Mercedes-Benz and other Renault-Nissan cars. Producing either 140hp (DIG-T 140) or 160hp (DIG-T 160), with a choice of manual or DCT gearboxes, they replaced the older 1.2- and 1.6-litre engines.

The 140hp version – the best-seller for Nissan – is plenty powerful enough with a useful 240Nm of torque, providing far more punch and power than the 1.2 it replaces. On the move, it’s smooth and quiet and feels quicker than you might expect, especially next to the more powerful 160hp version. This particular version will complete the 0-62mph sprint in 10.5 seconds.

If you want more power, the 160hp should do the trick. It has 260Nm of torque and a 0-62mph time of 8.9 seconds. The difference between the two engines isn't huge, but it is noticeable – especially when overtaking. 

We’d therefore recommend the 140hp version and save yourself a bit of money. If, however, you need or want an automatic gearbox, the 160hp model is your only option as the DCT gearbox isn’t available with the 140hp car. It’s a good fit in the higher-output model, shifting smoothly and responsively around town. If you put your foot down on a twistier road, it can spend a bit of time deciding which gear ratio to be in, but overall it’s an impressive fit that works well with the new 1.3-litre engine. Most Qashqai drivers are unlikely to be driving like they’re in a race anyway, so the relaxed and smooth-shifting nature makes sense. 

 

Discontinued engines

The range used to kick off with the 1.2-litre DIG-T (Direct Injection Gasoline Turbocharged, in case you were wondering) engine with 115hp and 190Nm of torque. While 1.2 litres might sound a little on the small side to power what is a fairly large car, Nissan claimed it had zestier performance than the old 1.6-litre petrol engine fitted to the previous Qashqai, as well as being more economical.

A top speed of 115mph was claimed for the manual version, with a 0-62mph time of 10.6 seconds. Opt for the Xtronic automatic and they become 108mph and 12.9 seconds, respectively.

On the road it’s very quiet and smooth although a little lacking in performance at low revs. Overtaking can be quite hard work and to get the most from the Nissan Qashqai 1.2 DIG-T you need to keep the revs up. At lower speeds around town it feels very much at home, however, and for urban driving is arguably the pick of the range.

Headline Nissan Qashqai performance figures belong to the 1.6-litre DIG-T engine, which was released at the end of 2014. Performance is hardly blistering, even with 240Nm of torque on tap from 2,000rpm, but it will achieve a top speed of 124mph and a 0-62mph time of 8.9 seconds. It is an impressively refined, quiet engine and the most relaxing power source available.

Top diesel used to be the 1.6-litre dCi unit with 130hp up until the end of 2018, carried over from the previous Qashqai. It was available with either two- or four-wheel drive, offering flexible acceleration and a quiet drive compared with the competition – although engine roar can creep into the cabin. This was more noticeable since the 2017 facelift focused on reducing wind and road noise.

Stick with the six-speed manual gearbox and front-wheel drive for a top speed of 118mph; 320Nm of torque from 1,750rpm sees a 0-62mph time of 9.9 seconds. Opt for the Xtronic automatic gearbox and these figures dip to 114mph and 11.1 seconds, while the four-wheel drive Qashqai with manual transmissions stakes claims of 118mph and 10.5 seconds.

How does the Qashqai handle?

  • Safe, predictable handling
  • Unlikely to sate enthusiastic drivers
  • Raft of on-board electronic stability aids

Conventional hatchback-like handling was one of the key attributes of the original Nissan Qashqai and the second-generation model continues the theme. Although there’s plenty of body roll when cornering, it’s well controlled and the car feels safe and stable at all times. It’s certainly not exciting to drive, but as surefooted family transport it’s hard to criticise.

Nissan made detail changes to spring and damper rates as part of the 2017 facelift, as well as beefing up the steering to provide more positive feedback. It’s designed to make steering feel more natural and works, to a point. It’s not the sharpest handler in the sector, Ford's latest Kuga will satisfy drivers looking for something with sportier intent.

White 2018 Nissan Qashqai front three-quarter driving

There’s plenty of electronic witchcraft going on behind the scenes to keep the Qashqai on the straight and narrow, with different levels of braking force applied to each individual wheel while cornering or travelling over undulating surfaces to keep the Nissan’s body as flat and stable as possible. As well as making the car more nimble, the company claims this also improves comfort for passengers.

All-wheel-drive versions get a more sophisticated suspension set-up with a multilink layout at the rear. Ride quality for all versions regardless of drivetrain is very good, with both large bumps and smaller imperfections absorbed smoothly. The Qashqai is equally at home around town, where its raised driving position makes it a cinch to position on the road. It’s easy to park, especially when equipped with parking cameras (higher grades get 360-degree panoramic cameras which provide a snapshot from all sides. Handy for avoiding damage to your alloy wheels when parking near a kerb).

Nissan Qashqai: front-wheel drive or four?

Top-spec Qashqais can be ordered with four-wheel drive (4WD); they operate as front-wheel drive in most conditions, but will send power rearwards if the front axle is struggling for grip. You won’t cross the Sahara in it, but it’ll prove perfect for keeping you going in snowy weather, when towing or crossing a slippery field. Traction in a Nissan Qashqai is consequently very good. Even the punchier engines won’t strain the wheels and you are unlikely to encounter wheelspin, even when pulling out of a damp T-junction in a hurry.