► Testing new 2017 Nissan Qashqai
► Mid-life facelift for #1 crossover
► Better quality promised, tech too
The Nissan Qashqai is one of those icons of the British car industry. Forget Minis or premium JagRovers; the BBC News is more likely to feature the QashCow in bulletins when discussing how the nation's manufacturing base is doing.
And for good reason - the Qashqai is one of the runaway success stories of the past decade, and it was designed, engineered and built in the UK. After abandoning the mainstream hatchback sectors and euthanasing the unloved Almera and Primera, Nissan struck on a bold path with the Qashqai a decade ago.
The gamble paid off. The company has sold 2.3 million since. We're now firmly into the Mk2's lifecycle and it's time to give some mid-life facelift love. Read on for our 2017 Nissan Qashqai review.
What's new for the mid-life refresh?
This is a gentle all-round polish, rather than a dramatic restyling. Think of marginal gains in the world of international sport. A design buff-up here, a hint of new headlamps and safety kit there - plus a side portion of gentle tech improvements.
Nissan has certainly been careful not to throw out the baby with the bath water; this mid-life facelift will scare precisely nobody. Handy when the QQ finds itself in third spot on the UK's bestsellers' chart in the first five months of 2017.
So recontoured light graphics front and rear, remoulded bumpers, the addition of rectangular (rather than round) foglamps, a shark-fin aerial and new chrome appliqué under the rear bumper are hardly startling stuff. But then they didn't need to be.
The interior has more wide-reaching (though still subtle) changes, with a greater focus on quality materials. Customers have been consistently asking for posher fit and finish - and Nissan has tried to do just that with the 2017 Qashqai. Slightly more premium materials are used in key locations and there's an all-new, flat-bottomed three-spoke steering wheel, designed to be nicer to hold and twiddle, as well as giving 17% greater visibility of the dials.
Browse Nissan Qashqai for sale in our classifieds section
Check out also the new latticework-effect leather upholstery on the new top trim grade, Tekna+. Nissan keeps mucking around with its spec levels and Tekna+ is just the latest iteration of its range-topping trim, complete with fancy 19in alloy wheels, four-way pneumatic lumbar support and memory function linked to the driver for seat and mirrors.
It's the car we're testing here, in admittedly toppy 1.6 dCi 130 diesel spec, 4WD with six-speed manual gearbox. (Nissan only had giddy top-spec models at the European launch in Austria). You'll spot the Qashqai Tekna+ by its satin silver door mirror caps and huge rims.
What with sister brand Renault fitting 20s to the Scenic, the race to giant rims shows no signs of abating... Just wait until tyre replacement time, is all we'll say. Eighteens can be fitted as a no-cost option.
Also new on the Tekna+ spec is a smashing eight-speaker Bose stereo, which has rich, clear sounds and straightforward touchscreen operation. It's just a shame that the Qashqai does without Apple CarPlay and Android Auto; you'll have to plug your phone in to listen to your own tunes on the go.
First-world problems and that...
Does it work? Does the new 2017 Nissan Qashqai feel more - whisper it - premium?
It does feel smarter than the plastic-fest of yore. In fairness, the Mk1 had pretty shockingly cheap plastics, while the Mk2 moved up a gear in 2014. This mid-life improvement improves things further, but you'll never mistake it for a smart Audi Q or Volvo XC.
Mind you, it's nicely finished for a mass-market product and there's a decent squidge to most plastics you'll see and prod in the front. The NissanConnect touchscreen is a bit on the small side, but works simply and effectively, with revisions to the interface to make it feel more familiar to smartphone users (see below).
The new Qashqai is a practical proposition, too. Front-seat passengers will be very comfy in the new front seats (better foam padding, a longer squab and reprofiled side support) and there's plenty of space. Clamber into the back and room is a little bit more generous thanks to the contours of the front pews.
Just watch out for a little less headroom if you order the full-length panoramic glass roof. This bathes the cabin in a light, airy ambience - your kids will love the skyview above.
Can I get seven seats in a Nissan Qashqai?
Nope. The Qashqai +2 is dead, don't forget. You'll need to upgrade to the (also-about-to-be-facelifted) Nissan X-Trail for that pleasure. The QQ has just two rows of seats here, and the rear bench is fixed.
Boot space? The Qashqai is only average at 430 litres, trailing the likes of the Kia Sportageand Mazda CX-5 rivals. But the Qashqai retains its nifty false boot floor, which can be used to separate the loadbay into different zones - handy if you're trying to stop bags of shopping rolling around or want to segregate damp sports clothes, say. Flop the seats down, and bootspace swells to 1598 litres.
Enough practicality! What's it like to drive?
Forgive us the focus on the nitty-gritty of the package. It is, after all, the main reason people flock to the Qashqai. But those who do take the plunge won't be disappointed by the way it drives.
This is an annoyingly accomplished drive, well judged for its target buyer, who's probably swapped out of a family hatchback, or traded down from a larger SUV. It's fine around town, on the motorway or just schlepping along country lanes.
It's not about corner carving or outright performance, mind (ever seen a Qashqai Nismo on the road? Thought not...). The name of the game here is simple, relaxing family transport and all Nissan's endeavours with the 2017 facelift are channeled in this relaxing, calming direction.
Our tech editor casts his eye over the changes made to the new Nissan Qashqai
Quieter, smoother... yet no thrills whatsoever
The only engineering changes of note - and we mean only; the engine and drivetrain continue untouched - are to the Qashqai's acoustics and chassis. So there are lashings of extra sound deadening, clever under-floor aero flicks and thicker rear glass to quell wind noise, plus gently recalibrated springs, dampers and anti-roll bars to improve ride comfort.
As well as that new, flat-bottomed steering wheel, the lower shaft that attaches the pinion to the rack is marginally thicker, providing extra stiffness and purer responses. It's supposed to have a better self-centering feel, but it's still a pretty numb helm. Traction is strong in the 4WD model, but we'd be tempted to pick a FWD Qashqai and save the pennies.
There's little fun to be had hustling the diesel Qashqai fast (pick the 1.6 turbo petrol if you want to rev). Instead, slow down and enjoy the remarkably supple new ride - even with the Tekna+ standard-fit 19s, it smothers bumps and road acne remarkably well. And, yes, it is a quieter, more refined place now with remarkably little wind rustle. Job done.
Read the full, detailed Nissan Qashqai review by our sister website Parkers
Nissan knows its target buyer extremely well and has created just the car that the great British public will lap up. Could the new 2017 Qashqai be a touch more exciting, to look at and drive? For sure. Is it a measured step forward to provide more polish and the same old practicality and crossover vibe that buyers crave - at democratic prices? You bet.
Prices start at £19,295. Pick of the range? It's hard to argue with the 99g/km CO2 of the 1.5 dCi in more modest N-Connecta trim, the likely best seller at £25,555. It's mission accomplished with the Mk2.5 Nissan Qashqai. Britain expects...
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