Parkers overall rating: 4.2 out of 5 4.2
  • Two engines
  • One mild hybrid, one full hybrid
  • Strong performers

Petrol engines

Performance is good enough no matter which model you choose. But if you want a longer-legged Qashqai, we recommend the 158hp model over the 140hp one.

We’ve tried the Qashqai in manual and automatic 158hp forms. In both cases, it’s a smooth and refined little engine that’s unobtrusive at low revs and settles down to a quiet hum at motorway speeds. Outright performance is on the pace for your money, although it feels less muscular in the mid-range than the 1.5-litre TSI in the Volkswagen Tiguan, especially in manual form.

Out of the automatic and manual transmission versions, we prefer the former. The six-speed manual Qashqai certainly needs plenty of revs to get going, and can often get bogged down – for instance, if you try to pull away from walking pace in second gear, it almost fails to move forward at all. You’ll learn to drive around that, but it can be a little disconcerting at first.

The automatic is CVT and other than the revs heading skywards when you floor the throttle at some speeds, it works responsively, especially on A-roads and the motorway.

Hybrid engine

The most exciting power option in the lineup is Nissan’s new E-Power system. This is essentially a range-extender hybrid, where the engine acts as a generator to charge the battery pack, which then drives an electric motor that drives the wheels.

Nissan says this is a highly efficient set-up that will offer owners a driving experience akin to that of an electric car, with instant throttle response and silent take off from rest.

We reckon it’s not all that different to any other hybrid system out there. It will only drive 1-2 miles on pure electric power and it just never feels that fast. It doesn’t deliver the kick-in-the-back acceleration of an electric car. But getting up to speed is linear, smooth and hushed. The real proof in the pudding will be in how economical it is and how it deals with stop-start traffic.

Power output is rated at 188hp and it’s only available with front-wheel drive and an automatic gearbox.

What’s it like to drive?

  • Handling is responsive, steering is sharp
  • Firm suspension, without being uncomfortable
  • Smaller wheels make for a better ride

There was very little wrong with the way the outgoing Qashqai handled, and that continues with the new model, which has taken a noticeable step forwards. The steering is direct and well weighted, giving the driver plenty of confidence when placing it in bends, thanks to excellent body control and a lack of roll.

The Nissan Qashqai has been tuned for responsive handling as well as comfort, so if you want the softest ride possible for your family SUV, you’ll need to look elsewhere – the Skoda Karoq and Volvo XC40 come to mind. But the Nissan is far from uncomfortable, and although it’s firm riding, it’s good at cushioning occupants from sharp surface irregularities, such as potholes and expansion joints.

We’ve tried the Qashqai on 19- and 20-inch alloy wheels, and there seems to be little difference between the two on typical UK roads and motorways. You get a more sophisticated independent rear suspension set-up with posher versions, which alleviates the firmer ride you’d normally get with larger wheels. From what we can see so far, it works very well.

The e-Power is some 200kg more than the regular Qashqai, most of which is over the front axle. And yet, it doesn’t stop, steer or handle all the differently to the regular car.