The Nissan Qashqai on test for Changing Lanes!
The Nissan Qashqai on test for Changing Lanes!

The Nissan Qashqai is back in 2021 with an all-new generation model. The Qashqai started the trend for crossovers and quickly rose to fame here, for a time Ireland’s bestselling car and a former Irish Car of the Year.

What’s new for the 2021 Nissan Qashqai?

Now in its third generation, the Nissan Qashqai has grown up. More visually imposing than the previous generation of the car, it has the kerb appeal of a top SUV. Following on from the 2020 launch of the all-new Nissan Juke, the new Qashqai translates Nissan’s new design language and technology to the family SUV segment with great success.

Pricing kicks off from €30,500 for the range in Ireland, with all models powered from launch by a 1.3-litre turbo petrol engine with mild hybrid technology.

The Qashqai fits the brief for a family car better than ever with a new platform yielding a more spacious cabin as well as a number of practical features.

Driving dynamics have also been significantly improved. Qashqai matures for a new era of electrification in the motor industry and will debut more hybrid options in 2022.

The Qashqai is maturing beautifully
The Qashqai is maturing beautifully

Inside the latest Nissan Qashqai

Inside the Qashqai benefits from a new interior that feels a lot more modern than the previous generation of the car. The quality of the materials has also moved up another gear, with a solid fit and finish that will weather family life for many years to come.

Qashqai gets a suitable digital upgrade too with a digital instrument panel for the driver and a slick looking infotainment screen that’s smartphone ready. The interior could perhaps do with a more distinctive character with more Nissan brand defining features, but the premium feeling cannot be denied.

Standard equipment levels are very good with the list including LED headlights, auto headlights with high beam assist, rear parking sensors, 8″ infotainment screen and wireless Apple Carplay and Android Auto. Safety features include blind spot intervention, traffic sign recognition, Intelligent Cruise Control, Intelligent Forward Collision Warning, and Intelligent Forward Emergency Braking.

The SV Premium model on test (from €37,395) includes a wireless phone charger, 9” touchscreen, 18″ alloys, panoramic glass roof, rear view camera and rear privacy glass.

The interior of the 2021 Nissan Qashqai
The interior of the 2021 Nissan Qashqai

Is it practical?

The Qashqai has grown in stature, which benefits passenger space too. The new car is a bit wider and has a longer wheelbase than the car it replaces, so you will find good sized footwells in the rear as a result. It feels more spacious inside than the previous Qashqai.

There’s also 50 more litres of boot space and the boot has a number of clever features to boost practicality – a false floor that can be used to separate items or give a flat loading sill. A powered hands-free tailgate is also available.

The most impressive feature is refinements to the ergonomic design of the door openings – the rear doors now open to 90 degrees, making it easier to step in and out of the vehicle or manoeuvre child seats into position. Small things but it helps Qashqai function better as a family car than ever before.

Driving the Nissan Qashqai

The 2021 Nissan Qashqai sits on a new platform. My test car was powered by the 1.3-litre mild hybrid petrol engine with a 6-speed manual gearbox. The overall impression is of agility and comfort on the road. Despite the overall increase in stiffness, the new Qashqai is over 60 kg lighter than the car it replaces.

Front wheel drive Qashqais uses a torsion beam rear suspension layout, upgraded from the outgoing Qashqai to reduce vibration and ensure better bump absorption and a smoother ride, as well as providing better roll control.

Boot space in the 2021 Nissan Qashqai
Boot space in the 2021 Nissan Qashqai

The steering is faster, more defined and responsive thanks to the power assistance motor now moved to directly adjacent to the steering rack. This has reduced the feeling of friction through the steering wheel, but gives a more natural increase in steering effort as more steering lock is applied.

For a large SUV it’s surprisingly agile and easy to drive with the manual gearbox, though a CVT automatic is also available (from €36,700). It’s very comfortable, even on large wheels. The engine is refined and there is plenty of power from the 156 hp unit. It is very pleasant to drive. Nissan says the manual gearbox has been enhanced for a quicker, more direct and sportier shift feeling, and I can say it certainly felt good from behind the wheel.

This is the only engine option for now. Some buyers might lament the demise of the diesel Qashqai. Certainly my average fuel consumption over a week of driving of 6.8 litres per 100 km cannot rival diesel for efficiency over long distances at least. But the arrival of a new Qashqai ‘e-POWER’ hybrid in early 2022 will be one to watch, using the petrol engine to generate electricity, while the wheels are completely driven by the electric motor.

The Qashqai is a stylish and practical family car
The Qashqai is a stylish and practical family car

Did you like it?

The Qashqai has been an amazing success in Ireland since it launched here, with over 50,000 already on the road and a further 20,000-30,000 estimated to have been imported here in the car’s 14 year history.

Nissan has sold over 3 million units of the car in Europe since its launch 13 years ago. It’s an incredibly important car for Nissan.

The new generation model has seriously grown up with the presence of a larger SUV on the road. At launch the engine range does look very narrow but the 1.3-litre petrol is fun to drive and refined, though the upcoming hybrid should be cheaper to run.

Space matters and the Qashqai has grown in all the right directions. This car is a stylish buy with a well-finished cabin to see it into the next few years. Nissan has upped the quality of this car considerably.

Competition is stiff in this segment but the Qashqai has serious reputation and recognition in the Irish market – it remains a solid and reliable buy in 2021.

The new Nissan Qashqai is available from €30,500
The new Nissan Qashqai is available from €30,500

Caroline Kidd

Model tested: Nissan Qashqai SV Premium
Price: 
€37,395
Engine:
1.3-litre turbo petrol
Power:  156 hp
Torque: 260 Nm
Top speed:  206 km/h
Acceleration (0-100 km/h): 9.5 seconds
CO2 emissions:
145 g/km
Motor Tax: 
€270 per year