This is the Nissan Qashqai Pure Drive. Pure Drive is a badge you won’t see on the back of GT-R, because it’s reserved for Nissan’s most environmentally friendly models (bar the Leaf EV). Changes in 2010 ushered in a sharper look for Nissan’s popular urban soft-roader, and now a series of MY11 updates includes a more powerful diesel engine, and the Pure Drive model we’ve tested here.
So with a Pure Drive badge on the back of a Nissan Qashqai, what eco tweaks do you get?
On the Qashqai it signifies cars that emit less than 140g/km of CO2. But there’s also this cleaner, greener Pure Drive model, which features aerodynamic wheel covers – hubcaps instead of 16in alloys – together with a set of low-rolling resistance tyres. There’s also sleeker, fluted fog light blanking plates, and a longer final drive ratio. Naturally, the Nissan Qashqai Pure Drive’s front-wheel drive only.
The results are small improvements on the standard 1.5dCi’s 54.3mpg and 137g/km, to 57.6mpg and 130g/km CO2.
Sounds impressive, but while the non-Pure Drive 1.6 petrol engine is available with Nissan’s Idle Stop stop/start system that cuts fuel consumption by 3%, it’s a strange omission from this dCi model. Still, it beats the emissions and consumption of a VW Tiguan BlueMotion (though new engines are imminent) and easily trumps Ford’s cleanest Kuga.
Nissan also claims the Qashqai Pure Drive has undergone a ‘weight reduction programme’, but that essentially amounts to the removal of the spare wheel and its replacement with a puncture repair kit. That the Qashqai Pure Drive is cheaper to buy and potentially cheaper to run than its equivalent 1.5dCi sibling is a good thing, but if you ever get a flat tyre then your other half and your family will curse your penny-pinching ways.
What else do I need to know about the Nissan Qashqai 1.5 dCi Pure Drive?
Rather than a special eco version that costs hundreds (if not thousands) more, it’s best to think of the Qashqai Pure Drive as a mildly massaged model – it’s actually £200 cheaper than the standard 1.5dCi Visia. Which is good news when so many brands try and prise your wallet open for these cleaner models.
Speaking of spec levels, the Pure Drive Qashqai is only available in bottom-rung Visia guise (because those that care about CO2 are tight?) but you still get electric windows, air-con, ESP and Bluetooth.
And a car that’s decent to drive. The 1.5dCi and two-wheel drive versions of the 2.0dCi gain a new six-speed manual, and it’s a slicker ‘box than the one that featured on our old4WD long-termer. There’s a decent, comfortable ride too, and a good driving position, but don’t expect the Qashqai’s interior to offer anything over and above the practicality of a Golf, let alone quality that matches VW’s finest.
The MY11 tweaks mean both the 1.5dCi and 1.5dCi Pure Drive boast a whole 4bhp more than before, plus Euro 5 emissions compliancy and a diesel particulate filter. It’s a relief that Nissan hasn’t cut the power on this Pure Drive model in the hope of improving the mpg and CO2 figures as it’s already slow enough, and the lengthening of the final drive ratio means it takes three-tenths more to hit 62mph than a regular 1.5dCi. You have to work that loud eight-valver pretty hard too, as this is a heavy car compared to the competition, and the torque band is pretty narrow.
Britain likes the Nissan Qashqai – it was the 10th best-selling car in the UK in 2010 – and we like it too.
It’s a straightforward, decent piece of kit, offering something appealing different from the plethora of hatches that fill the market. It’s not quick – though we’d pick it over the 1.6 petrol, and the 2.0dCi is £1700 more – but beware that lack of a spare tyre.