Nissan has updated its Qashqai crossover for 2013. On the new ‘360’ trim level which replaces the mid-range Ntec+ trim, the headline news is a 360-degree view parking camera. It’s a familiar car now, but does its age mean the Qashqai has dropped off the pace? CAR tested the 1.6dCi version to find out.
Isn’t the Qashqai getting a bit long in the tooth now?
A replacement for this Qashqai will launch in 2014, though on the outside you wouldn’t know it, thanks to a facelift in 2010, which sharpened up the nose features with new headlights and grilles. Riding on two-tone 18-inch alloys and featuring tinted rear glass, our Qashqai 360 model didn’t look like a design on its last legs.
Inside, the wrinkles are showing. The unremittingly grey dashboard looks and dated, and the materials don’t feel close to the quality of those in the Qashqai’s key rivals: the Skoda Yeti and Mazda CX-5. At least it does feel hard-wearing though, like it’ll soak up years of family abuse without complaint. The centre console has also been remodelled to incorporate the smaller Juke’s touchscreen infotainment centre. Standard equipment on this model includes Bluetooth, USB connectivity, sat-nav, and cruise control. Qashqai 360 models are lifted by white contrast stitching and light flooding in from an enormous panoramic glass roof, but overall the cabin is crying out for retirement. Luckily, the all-new Qashqai bows in in 2014…
Tell me about this new 360-degree camera function
A rear-view camera mounted in the hatchback’s numberplate recess joins forces with two cameras housed on the underside of the wingmirrors, which use a panorama-view stretch to create a birds’-eye view over the Qashqai when parking. It’s very similar to the system BMW uses on the X5, X6 and 7-series – in principle. However, in operation the image quality simply isn’t high enough to fully trust the display’s fuzzy images. Plus, the lower-than-ideal screen also suffers from natural light reflections. You’re better off either switching to rear-view camera mode only, or (crazy, I know) judging your parking using mirrors, windows, and spatial awareness. Old-school.
If the 360’s camera is pants, should I still bother considering the Qashqai?
The Qashqai hasn’t become Nissan’s best-selling UK model without good reason – this is a very good family car. The basics are all present and correct: light, wide-opening doors, raised ride height without the rolly handling, easy-to-fold seats, and plenty of cabin storage. Our test car was the five-seater, which starts at £16,895 (360s cost from £19,945), but you can get an extended-wheelbase Qashqai+2, with seven-seater capability and a 450-litre boot – that’s 40 litres bigger than the regular car’s. Opting for the extra space will set you back an extra £880.
What’s the Qashqai like to drive?
It’s no dynamic benchmark – a Mazda CX-5, for example, feels far sportier. There’s a bit of a mish-mash between some of the controls: the well-weighted steering is slow to turn in and yet the six-speed gearbox’s lever has an abruptly short throw. The notchy action is a quasi-sporty touch that’s at odds with the unruffled demeanour of the rest of the package.
The engine is a good’un, perfect for everyday duties. The 130bhp 1.6-litre diesel feels strong, thanks to its 236lb ft from just 1750rpm, and revs far more smoothly than the Vauxhall Mokka’s 1.7-litre diesel CAR tested recently. Moreover, it’s economical too. After a week of mixed driving including fast motorway jaunts, town work and some stop-start clambering over the North Yorkshire moors as a CAR photoshoot back-up vehicle, we averaged 42.5mpg, with a high of 45.9mpg. Nissan’s claim is a predictably silly 62.8mpg, but with a steadier right foot, a relaxed driver could get close to 50mpg. Enhancing the eco-credentials is a stop-start system which tots up the amount of CO2 you’ve saved by shutting the engine down when stationary. During our test period the Qashqai reckoned it’d avoided coughing out 0.8kg of CO2 versus a non stop/start version.
You can spec your Qashqai as a 4x4, but you’re better of sticking to FWD – it’s plenty grippy enough, not to mention £2000 cheaper and 200kg lighter. If you want off-roader talent, upgrade to a Land Rover Freelander, or save a fortune and try a bare-spec £8995 Dacia Duster instead.
Even in the winter of its career, the Qashqai puts up a strong fight against funkier family crossovers like the Kia Sportage, Hyundai ix35 and Mazda CX-5. Besides the aged cabin, it’s still a strong contender, with a recipe that Nissan will do well not to fiddle with much when it’s replaced in 2014.
In fact, the new Qasqhai may prove to be this current model’s biggest competitor. With equivalent-spec used facelift models now down to around £14k, the Qashqai 360’s Around View party piece isn’t enough of a reason to spend £23,590 on a new one. Go for the entry-level Visia trim at £20,090 – shunning climate control, automatic lights, wipers, and swapping 17in rims for 16s – or hold on for the more stylish, more efficient Qashqai gen-2 in 2014.