Live for the unexpected. That’s Nissan’s slogan for the Qashqai. And what you might not expect is a 1.5-litre diesel engine where the 2.0-litre normally lives. This is a big car – the +2 is 211mm longer than the standard Qashqai and weighs 1604kg – so the newly introduced small engine might not be your first choice. Question is, should you choose it at all?
A tiny engine. Must make this a cheap car then?
You’ll save yourself £1230 by choosing this instead of the 2.0-litre but £18,495 isn’t exactly cheap. The performance figures are less impressive than the 148bhp 2.0-litre’s too but they feel a lot further apart even than a 12mph top speed and 2.4sec 0-62mph sprint time deficit suggest.
The 2.0-litre diesel feels revvy and responsive, with plenty of acceleration on tap. The 1.5 feels like you’d expect it to feel in such a big car: slothful. You can row it along on the modicum of torque but you’ll soon give up wringing its neck. From a performance point of view, this is not a diesel for enthusiastic drivers and it emits a tediously tinkly soundtrack too. Cruising is peaceful enough though, once you’ve got up to speed. Eventually.
Doesn’t bode well for a full load
Actually, the Qashqai feels equally slow no matter how many people you pack it with. So don’t worry about that. Worry instead about the quality of the accommodation for your rear-most passengers.
Actually, Nissan says the third row is intended only for those less than 1.6m tall. And they really are just occasional seats for kids. They’re nicely trimmed, have proper belts and head restraints plus some padded trim either side of them on the inner panelling, but don’t take them seriously. It’s a real effort to get back there – you basically fold the middle row and clamber over – and it leaves you with virtually no boot space. Once there, you find room only for headless bicrural amputees, so don’t bother. I did it for you.
With the third row folded away – a simple task, and just as easy to flip them back up – you get a long, if shallow, boot and you can vary the balance between that and second-row legroom by sliding those seats back and forth.
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Anything you did like, then?
Of course. The usual Qashqai strengths of great front seats and an inviting interior with a high-quality finish remain in place. The gearshift is a tactile pleasure, and the Qashqai clings on when you sling it round corners. A panoramic glass roof is standard on all +2s, and it makes the interior especially light and airy – particularly in combo with the Koala seat trim that’s unique to the +2 Acenta.
Also like the shorter version, the initially soft-feeling ride starts to deteriorate when the going gets bumpy, and you start to lurch about a bit. It patters over high-speed lumps too. But drive like the leisurely 1.5 invites and you’ll hardly notice any of that.
This 1.5 dCi makes more sense at the bottom end of the +2 range, where it starts at £16,995. Get to Acenta trim level and you might as well splash out on the 2.0-litre to go with the extra gizmos inside.
But you’d have to question whether those rear seats really are worth the bother. Fact is, Nissan chose to base this seven-seater on a car that’s not notably space-efficient in the first place. A Ford S-Max is so much more useful, practical and fun to drive, and you could buy a base-trim 1.8TDCi for this money. Do that.
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