Nissan Qashqai (2013-2020) Expert Review
The Nissan Qashqai is immensely popular in the UK. Not only is it the biggest-selling car of its type, it's also one of the biggest-selling cars of any type. It's easy to see why, too. The smart SUV-inspired design is hugely appealing to family car buyers with a sense of style, while the roomy cabin and generous boot make it capable of dealing with all those day-to-day family needs. Nice inside, good to drive and reasonably well equipped, the Qashqai is a cracking all-rounder, and it's popularity means there are lots of good, affordable examples on the used market.
- Five-door crossover
2013, 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018, 2019, 2020
The original Qashqai was launched in 2007 and was a massive gamble for Nissan: not so much for its unpronounceable name, but because it was so different to the rest of the company’s fairly staid range, not to mention all the conventional family hatchbacks with which the car competed on account of its jacked-up 4x4-like styling. It was, however, a gamble that most certainly paid off. The Qashqai instantly became a huge hit and was still selling strongly when its replacement, reviewed here, was launched in 2013.
Sharper looking, the second generation Qashqai was a distinct improvement on the car it replaced in a number of other ways, too. The first car’s rather plasticky interior was replaced with one that used higher-grade materials for a much posher feel, and more standard equipment was provided, too, with even entry-level models getting air-con and cruise control, although it’s worth upgrading to our favoured Acenta Premium trim for its alloy wheels, rain-sensing wipers, leather steering wheel and upgraded infotainment system, complete with a 7.0-inch touchscreen, DAB radio and satnav. Plus, of course, you get the elevated seating position for that true SUV feel, and good visibility in all directions.
The second generation Qashqai offered better practicality than before, too, an essential factor for any family car. That was down to having a good bit more room in the passenger compartment, a smidge more boot space and some clever touches to make life tha little bit easier. The new car also offered improved driving dynamics, with a more comfortable ride at all speeds, improved rolling refinement and handing that was significantly less roly-poly in bends. It’s worth hunting out a model with smaller wheels, though, because the bigger 19-inch items that are standard on higher-end cars make the ride a bit more jiggly.
A range of economical turbocharged petrol and diesel engines were offered. Initially, petrol choices included a 1.2 with 113bhp and a 1.6 with 161bhp, although the former was a bit gutless and the latter was a bit expensive. Diesel buyers had the choice of a 108bhp 1.5 and a 128bhp 1.6, and the entry-level option was the pick of the pair as it was cheaper to buy, more economical and delivered more-than-adequate performance and refinement.
A CVT automatic transmission was an option for models with the 1.6-litre petrol engine, and some higher spec versions were available with four-wheel drive to give them the traction that went with their SUV-esque styling. However, the vast majority of Qashqais are front-wheel drive and use a manual gearbox.
The news got better for petrol fans towards the end of 2018, when the existing petrol engines were replaced by a pair of 1.3-litre turbo units with 138bhp and 158bhp. Both came with a six-speed manual gearbox as standard, but the latter was also available with a seven-speed twin-clutch automatic. These were an improvement over the engines they replaced, with easier, more muscular performance and improved economy. Meanwhile, the entry-level diesel was fettled to provide slightly more power but stayed essentially the same, while the 1.6 diesel was replaced by a 1.7-litre unit with 148bhp, although the lower-powered version was still the pick even then.
It was a huge seller, the second generation Qashqai, the best-selling car of its type no less, so there are plenty of examples to choose from on the used market. Whatever your budget, you should be able to find a car to suit your tastes. Unlike the original Qashqai, though, there’s no Qashqai+2 variant, so the second generation car is not available with the option of seven seats, meaning those who need capacity for more than five people will have to look elsewhere.
Slotting in between the Juke and X-Trail in Nissan's SUV lineup, the Qashqai was once the benchmark in its class, even when considered alongside brilliant rivals such as the Kia Sportage, Mazda CX-5, Hyundai Tucson and Renault Kadjar, the last of which is pretty much the same car as the Qashqai underneath. True enough, the Qashqai has since been overtaken at the top of the small SUV class by newer cars such as the fabulous Skoda Karoq and brilliant Peugeot 3008, but there’s still plenty to like about the good old Qashqai. After all, so many car buyers can’t be wrong…
Three Things To Know
- Contrary to popular belief, the Nissan Qashqai wasn’t actually the first so-called ‘crossover’. However, just as the mk1 Volkswagen Golf GTI didn’t actually invent the hot hatch sector, it did popularise it, and it's the same story with the Qashqai's effect on the section of the market that blends hatchback and SUV in that now oh-so-popular way. The Qashqai has become synonymous with the crossover phenomenon, and that's due to its incredible popularity.
- Two removable ‘upper boot floor’ panels give the luggage area lots of extra versatility. They create a flat boot floor when the rear (60/40) seats are folded, and they allow valuables to be stored beneath them out of sight. You can even position one of them vertically to create a small compartment that prevents bags of shopping from sliding around too much. Simple enough, but it's a really handy feature.
- The most basic of the trim levels - entry-level Visia - misses out on automatic emergency braking, which we consider to be an essential safety feature. However, all other versions have it, along with lane departure warning, traffic sign recognition and headlamps with high-beam assist. You had to upgrade to N-Connecta trim if you wanted blind spot monitoring. Go for N-Tec trim or above, and later examples of the second-generation Qashqai were also fitted with the ProPilot driver assistance system, which equipped the cruise control function with the ability to pretty much drive the car itself in stop-go traffic on the motorway, while keeping you in your lane and maintaining a safe distance to the car in front. Bear in mind, though, that the car needed to be fitted with either the DCT or CVT automatic gearbox. Overall, the Qashqai has been awarded the full five stars in Euro NCAP crash tests, but it should be noted that it was assessed back in 2014, and the tests have come considerably more difficult to ace since then.
Which One to Buy
- To avoid paying annual car tax: Provided it was registered before April 2017, the 1.5-litre dCi turbodiesel is exempt from the yearly charge, as it has CO2 emissions of less than 100g/km. The corresponding official mpg figure is similarly impressive,too. After that date, however, the tax laws changed, so anyone buying a Qashqai built after the threshold will be saddled with an annual VED bill of £150.
- The best all-rounder: You'll be wanting the 1.5 dCi Acenta Premium. Its super-efficient turbodiesel engine not only allows you to avoid paying annual car tax, it also gives you up to 70mpg, while at the same time you’re pampered with a wealth of standard equipment including a rear-view camera and panoramic glass roof, and a plethora of safety technology.
- If you really must have all the toys: The 1.6 dCi 4wd Tekna. You get the panoramic glass roof, premium Bose hi-fi, LED headlights, leather, smartphone connectivity, front and rear parking sensors, and even the autonomous Park Assist system.
- If you don't like diesel and simply must have petrol: The entry-level petrol engines in early Qashqais were a little bit underpowered, so you'll be wanting the later post-facelift 1.3-litre DiG-T turbo engine with its 138bhp. With front-wheel drive and a six-speed manual gearbox, it provides reasonably muscular performance, and efficiency figures aren't bad, either.
If you buy a used Nissan Qashqai, you largely avoid the car's biggest running cost: depreciation. We’ve heard of one owner who bought an N-Tec+ model as a new car for £24,000, and less than a year (and 5,000 miles) later, was told it was worth £16,000… ouch! On the other hand, he did remark that he regularly got 67mpg.
Good fuel economy is a feature of all the Qashqai's engines, with official consumption figures on the happy side of 50mpg, while the 1.5 dCi turbodiesel claims to give 74mpg: not many owners get as much as that, but some do. With subdued drinking habits come rewards from the exchequer, with annual VED charges from £0 to £150 at most.
Some owners report that the Qashqai is heavy on tyres, with the front pair possibly needing replacement after only 10,000 miles. Nissan’s own fixed price servicing packages don’t sound so bad at £189 for a minor service on a petrol model and £209 for a diesel, but weighing against that is the recommendation that the Qashqai should be serviced every 12 months. On the plus side, you do get a year’s worth of European roadside assistance thrown in for free.
The Qashqai uses an eco-friendly air-conditioning gas that is more prone to leakage than previous varieties and can need replacing inside of two years. At £250 for re-gassing, it’s much dearer than conventional air-con gas.
Rear parking sensors suffer from water ingress and then randomly beep out warnings when you’re on the move, while rear-view cameras sometimes display images unbidden. An early recall concerned optional tow bars detaching, and on cars produced between 2013 and September 2016, the right rear wheelarch liner could deform, and in extreme cases, chafe through the brake fluid lines. And talking of brakes, the emergency braking system would sometimes cease to function.
Many owners complained of batteries that would mysteriously (to the dealers, at least) drain their charge completely within a mere few days, while the stop/start function on some cars gave up the ghost early in their lives. Air-conditioning pumps and condensers are reported to fail, and early satnavs were prone to cutting out or freezing. The inability of the Nissan Connect infotainment system to actually connect to mobile phones also vexed some owners, as did creaking suspension and steering when the car was cold.
Of some consequence are the number of complaints about the CVT automatic gearbox, which could fail completely inside of 20,000 miles, and then require replacement or refurbishment. A new one costs about £6,000, so ensure the one you’re looking at isn’t sloppy or making a grinding sound if it’s outside of warranty. And remote locking key fobs are occasionally not recognised by the Qashqai’s security system, making it hard to gain entry to your own car without the help of a national breakdown organisation.
The 1.5 dCi engine has gained a little notoriety for a flat-spot at around 1,750-2,000rpm, leaving you with scarily feeble acceleration when, for example, entering a roundabout or pulling out into stream of fast-moving traffic.
The CarGurus Verdict
Check out some of the vehicle reliability websites and you’ll find some disgruntled Qashqai owners. On the other hand, in 2017 the Qashqai was the UK’s third best-selling car behind the Ford Fiesta and Focus, so clearly it also has a great many fans.
Its commandingly high driving position, spacious interior, refined dynamics and excellent fuel economy make for an appealing package, and in the classifieds you’ll find many bargains. But do make sure the Qashqai you’re looking at has been in to the dealer for the various recalls, and that all the electrical items work as they should.