Nissan Qashqai 1.5 dCi Tekna (2015) long-term test review

Published: 19 May 2015

► Nissan Qashqai long-term test review
► We live with the Qashqai day-in, day-out
► This month, a rare glimpse of its original colour

Month 7: the end of our Nissan Qashqai long-term test

Perspective – as, with the aid of a 1:32 scale Friesian cow, Father Ted once so brilliantly failed to demonstrate to Dougal – is a wonderful thing. There I was, all set to gently denigrate the Qashqai as a rather humdrum offering about which the missus and I both ran out of things to say two weeks after its arrival, when along came Citroën’s Cactus. At which point we suddenly realised that, a good five grand more expensive albeit, the Qashqai is fabulous in every respect.

As an object of desire, it might have all the ocular appeal of a verucca but, on board, the Nissan’s actually rather wholesome. Granted, the front seats aren’t, strangely, quite as comfortable as those of its predecessor, but the steering adjusts for reach as well as rake, and the pedal box is a good size, so a respectable driving position’s easy to settle into.

Though the centre console design is lacklustre, instruments, switchgear and the multimedia system are clear and easy to use. The missus is kicking herself at having only discovered the joy of DAB accessible radio stations eight minutes before the car takes its leave, while I’m resisting kicking her round the kitchen following her belated admission to having administered a small, dermis-rippling wound to the poor thing’s right thigh at some time during the past six months. Now I know why the car has remained so dirty throughout our tenure.

Quick word of praise for mobile phone connectivity: it was a doddle to initiate, and works so well that if you’re outside the car with the ignition on and your mobile rings, the car will still take charge, leaving you bellowing into a defunct phone whilst the poor sod who rang goes ‘Hello?’ into an empty interior.

The hooligans have been happy in the back (comfy seats, stacks of room, they can see out despite the pointless Gangsta glass and, hallelujah, the windows wind fully down). The evil-smelling dog has expressed no opinion on its quarters astern, though if discontentment is represented by the frequency of flatulence, I think we’ve got off lightly.

When it first arrived I recall expressing concern that 109bhp and 192lb ft of torque might prove inadequate at shifting the 1400-odd kilogram tin with any alacrity, and those reservations have been confirmed on an almost daily basis. The 1.5-litre turbodiesel does, like any irritating offspring, become voluble when thrashed, and even then struggles to provide oomph sufficient to overtake on any straight shorter than that required by a departing B52. Work within the powertrain’s modest parameters however, and all remains comfortably numb. 

All of which is not in the least designed to be damning with faint praise, because I’ve saved the proper damning for last. The Qashqai really has, after just 7000 miles, become palpably baggy. The rattles and grimaces discussed last month are back with a vengeance, and we must simply take it on trust that they will all be fully addressed with the car’s first service, still some five months distant.

By Anthony ffrench-Constant

Nissan Qashqai

Month 6 running a Nissan Qashqai: groans and rattles from cold. Or that could just be the mud

The rolling greensward and honey-hued architecture of Mudfordshire might well prove an irresistible summer lure to those who favour the machinations of the Thetford Cassette over properly plumbed-in variants of Thomas Crapper’s throne of tranquillity, but, for those of us that actually live here, the state of the roads for the remaining nine months of the year is of far greater import. Never mind the potholes; it’s astonishing how much mud a tractor ‘n’ trailer combo can transport from field to carriageway. There’s sufficient depth of topsoil to establish a decent crop of winter wheat.

All of which means that the ostensibly Quink-coutured Qashqai spends most of the time looking more like something the average zoo keeper would instinctively chase down with a sizeable shovel. And I mention this because I’ve always harboured the sneaking suspicion that a car goes better when it’s clean.

Rent key fob now irreparable after three attacks of Superglue aside, the clattering equivalent of a tin can tied to a tom cat’s tail emanating from the front end on start-up allied to intermittent power-steering noises reminiscent of a frayed wire drawn over an unlubricated pulley might suggest a slightly baggy approach to build quality in a car not yet 7000 miles old.

So, armed with notably bad grace and the dozen-odd pound coins demanded by the jet-wash to mine the metal from the mud, I cleaned the thing. And, blow me, I’ve just been for one of the most pleasant, rattle-free drives I can remember having in this machine. Go – as our American cousins would have it – figure.

By Anthony ffrench-Constant

Nissan Qashqai

Month 5 running a Nissan Qashqai: does it pass its bicycle loading proficiency test?

Once a week, the impending clatter of something called a Cycling Proficiency Test requires that the younger hooligan reports to school armed with his bicycle.

With suspiciously crisp timing, the missus has simultaneously decided to fail her Bicycle Loading Proficiency Test on the grounds that said bike is too heavy and too awkward to womanhandle, causing diverse vertebra to wantonly displace themselves with all the vim of popping corn introduced to smoking hot oil.

She has a point. Such is the sales-friendly streamlining of today’s SUV that the bike must be introduced at a 45 degree angle to get even the saddle under the loadspace aperture head. At which point, what should be a relatively simple process suddenly takes on complexities more usually associated with trying to gift wrap an enraged octopus.

Several weeks in, loose robes grease and mud bespattered and fingers fairway divoted by sharp-cut Shimano gears, I had the temerity to suggest that, it being but three miles away (only 200 yards of which need be main road), young sir might actually ride his bike to school.

Huge mistake. Do I not realise that it’s actually the back roads that are the problem? Have I not noticed how the local mumsies do not so much drive their gargantuan 4x4s as aim them? How many times have I been borne down upon by a cold steel tsunami the driver of which is imitating an owl because Jocasta has just thrown up all over Jethro, again?

She has a point. So it’s a good job I have finally learned to slam the Qashqai tailgate without simultaneously buckling the bike’s front wheel…

By Anthony ffrench-Constant

Nissan Qashqai and Mitsubishi Outlander

Month 4 running a Nissan Qashqai: a face-off against the Mitsubishi Outlander

Don’t mention this to my missus, but sometimes the best way to appreciate that which you’ve already got is to have a quick go in something else. To wit; after a week in the company of the more-Great-White-Whale-than-Great-White-Hope that is Mitsubishi’s Outlander PHEV, I’ll never complain about the Qashqai’s fuel economy again.

Okay, I get the huge fleet-world savings courtesy of CO2 emissions of just 44g/km, but the former’s 148mpg average fuel consumption brag is, frankly, risible. When it arrived, the Outlander’s average mpg readout hovered at fractionally over, um, 100mpg less than that and – despite my efforts to drive it like a pined-up shiny black bespoke Volvo conversion with a massive glasshouse – has since been halved as ruthlessly as a Damien Hirst calf.

Moreover, even assuming you can plug the Outlander in every night to take full advantage of a 32-mile EV-only range, it’s still extremely annoying to live with; apart from anything else, the whole pinging and bonging as relentlessly as moon-shot mission control. This as the average mpg of the Nissan staggers gently north of 48mpg.

By Anthony ffrench-Constant

Month 3 running a Nissan Qashqai: long-haul trip time

At last, a proper family outing for the Qashqai as we trundle off for a wet weekend on, oh Lordy… the Isle of Wight. Moored just a few centuries off the south coast, this chilly chalk suppository has changed so little over generations that when the Sealed Knot takes over Carisbrooke Castle for the purposes of light bludgeoning and the puffing of comedy clay pipes so long the bowl has a different postcode, the locals simply assume it’s the Royal Green Jackets on exercise.

In another life, I was an AP1-88 regular as the impending gleam of St Mary’s Hospital groaned inexorably out of the ground. Responsibility for the design of the pathology and catering departments fell to my parallel motion, the latter involving endless planning meetings with (honest) Messrs Bun and Rice… more than somewhat ironic given a population so increasingly geriatric I remain amazed that IoW ferry terminus WELCOME signs are not underscored with the slogan ‘The Land of Food You Can Eat Without Teeth’.

In the summer, of course, the island’s full of Fulham and her Tiguan. Not many Nissans: not the right badge for ladies who lunch on lobster; NQOCD. Not that this will perturb the company in the slightest since (and I’m not sure if it’s just because you always notice other examples of the car you’re driving) elsewhere on our shores the Qashqow seems thicker on the ground than boils on a swineherd’s backside.

Which I just don’t get (the car, not the boils). Or rather, I didn’t. I now believe the secret of its success to be akin to the kid sitting plumb in the middle of the class who never puts his hand up; without shining in any particular department, it simply doesn’t actually do anything wrong.

You’d think, for instance, that armed with 19in wheels and a humble torsion beam replacing pricey first-generation multi-link rear suspension, the Qashqai would make progress like a frog in a sock. But Nissan has more than compensated, with double-piston dampers and an ABS sponsored, tug ‘n’ tether modus operandi, body movement-shackling Active Ride Control system inducing a remarkably smooth, pliant cruise over all but the harshest surfaces.

Combine this with a much-appreciated step forward in refinement through the significant suppression of road, tyre and wind noise, lob in about as good a driving position as may be expected from an SUV, and the upshot is a surprisingly beguiling long-haul experience marred only by the dry-retching, wind-breaking proclivities of a dog consigned to the front passenger footwell by other luggage exigencies.

By Anthony ffrench-Constant

CAR magazine's long-term Nissan Qashqai

Month 2 running a Nissan Qashqai:  Anthony’s wife’s verdict

As you can see, an administrative cock-up of the first water means that I have, of late, been somewhat spoiled for choice on the automotive front, rendering Nissan nursemaiding the almost exclusive preserve of the missus. So here, in pin-the-tail-on-the-elephant order, are her latest musings…

The seats are too hot. Yes, I know the dubious ergonomics of the seat-heater switches place them within reach of tittering offspring, but she still swears they’re hot when they’re not. I put this down to a snug fit; they really are rather comfy.

The sat-nav’s pants. To be more specific, map mode is adequate, but once you activate route guidance it’s impossible to choose your own preferred map scale via the turny knob that does the job. So the useful facility to zoom out from a default scale which merely identifies individual evergreen flowering shrubs is an annoying absentee.

There’s not enough power. On which we agree. A pleasingly quiet 109bhp and 192lb ft of torque will undoubtedly pull a greased stick out of a pig’s arse, but I very much doubt it would peel a new-age traveller off your sister. Overtaking even a Canada goose dribbling a rugby ball down the A44 requires a run-up.

By Anthony ffrench-Constant

Month 1 running a Nissan Qashqai: the introduction

Cut to the quick by that paean to sartorial elegance Ben Oliver’s recent Facebook pasting over my relentlessly clothes hippo wardrobe, I have deliberately expunged my ‘I Beat Anorexia’ T-shirt (bought specially for the occasion) from these first images of the new ff-C biffabout in order that nothing may distract you from wholesale admiration of its sharp new suit.

Oh, all right… Strikes me the new Nissan Qashqai offers no more ocular excitement than any other generic. But, let’s face it, armed with a face like a bucket of smashed crabs and wrapped in the couture of a carthorse cough sweet, its predecessor was an absolute munter. Didn’t stop it selling in the fahsands, though, did it? Which just goes to show where Yummy Mummy’s true motoring priorities lie; a little extra height off the ground affording that all-important false sense of security behind the wheel, less unpleasant bending for the child-seat strap tussle and easier tailgate access to the groaning weight of Waitrose bags.

The mums may not mind what it looks like, then, but they surely must have a care for interior space, practicality and ergonomics? Well, here, happily, there’s little that falls short of the largely wholesome.

The new dashboard design scores for instrument binnacle clarity and much improved steering-wheel switchgear, but lets the side down by dropping the sat-nav screen too far south in a centre console that, though higher in quality, majors on practicality rather than visual appeal.

Click here to see the last time we ran a Nissan Qashqai long-termer, back soon after the launch of the Mk1 in 2008. 

Perfectly comfortable albeit, the front seats don’t quite match the blissful snugness of the previous generation offering, and I have been wrestling to find an ideal driving position. But that may be simply because I’m missing the bulletproof ergonomics of the lower-slung Leon. Rear seat space has improved in all dimensions. The seats fold flatter than before, and that they neither slide nor recline doesn’t appear to worry the children, the opinion of whom has not yet been sought as to comfort lest the answer is one we don’t wish to hear.

Twenty litres larger, the loadspace has become quite clever. Not necessarily guaranteeing it doesn’t become part of my burgeoning collection, the parcel shelf may be stored under a new false floor. The twin panels of said floor may either be used to compartment the space to harness errant shopping, or reversed to reveal a waterproof lining ready for hosing off after the dog has imported added reek by once again rolling in fox pooh.

Standard equipment levels strike me as being astonishingly high, with everything from proper keyless access and start to a bewildering array of safety technology thrown in. Then again, this specimen does cost over £7000 more than the cheapest Qashqai you can buy, the only option fitted here being £525 worth of Ink Blue paint.

Now, residual plastic nappies aside, so far behind has the Qashqai now left all 4×4 pretensions that this 1.5-litre turbodiesel variant isn’t even available with all-wheel drive. We’ll tackle the powertrain, undercarriage and dynamics in detail next month. For now, however, suffice it to say I’m less than thrilled to be once again smelling the glove of diesel refuelling forensics, and a little concerned that a car of this size is being asked to cope with just 109bhp; an output even lower than that of the diminutive 1.2-litre petrol alternative.

Engine downsizing in the interests of fuel economy and CO2 is all very well, but not if you have to eviscerate the poor thing to make proper progress. Real world? Initial fuel consumption returns suggest we’re nearly 30mpg down on the quoted average.

Stay tuned for regular updates over the coming year in our Nissan Qashqai long-term test review.

By Anthony ffrench-Constant

CAR magazine's long-term Nissan Qashqai