Don't let Nissan catch you calling the new Qashqai+2 an MPV. Like its jacked-up hatchback little brother, this is one of Nissan’s growing family of ‘crossover’ vehicles – mainstream cars with a pinch of 4x4 here and a hint of people carrier there. Just think of it as a Qashqai hatch but with a couple of extra seats.
It’s a flavour car buyers seem to like – the Qashqai is the fastest-selling car in Nissan’s history, racking up 250,000 sales in Europe since its launch in March 2007. For Qashqai, read cash cow...
So it’s a Nissan Qashqai, only bigger?
The Qashqai+2 is 211mm longer than the regular car, but Nissan hasn’t taken the lazy route and just extended the rear overhang. There’s a 135mm increase in the wheelbase, which gives a much-needed boost to legroom for passengers in the middle row. There’s more space for luggage, too, up from 410 to 550 litres (when seats six and seven are folded into the floor).
There's a longer wheelbase but the +2 tag - is this a proper seven-seater?
Definitely not. Nissan says seats six and seven have been designed for passengers of up to 1.6 metres in height, but it’s hard to see anyone being comfortable back there for long. Although the middle row tilts and slides forward to make getting to the third row easier, the opening is narrow and the sloping roofline and thick rear pillars add to the claustrophobic feel. Think of the third row as the automotive equivalent of the naughty step, and make the kids sit there as punishment.
Look upon the Qashqai+2 as a five-seater with two (very) occasional extra seats, and it starts to make more sense. The extra legroom in the middle row is a big improvement, and the seats can be slid back and forth to trade passenger space for more luggage room.
Click 'Next' below to read more of our Nissan Qashqai+2 first drive
What’s under the bonnet?
The Qashqai+2 gets the same engines as the regular Qashqai. The 2.0-litre petrol and diesel models go on sale in September 2008 but the smaller engines (the 1.6 petrol and 1.5 diesel) won’t be in showrooms until late in 2008 or early 2009. We’ve driven the front-wheel drive 2.0 petrol, and the 2.0 diesel with four-wheel drive mated to an auto ’box.
The petrol pulls cleanly even from low revs. It just doesn’t pull very hard. It’s quiet enough at a steady cruise but can sound gruff at high revs.
There’s useful extra punch from the diesel (torque peaks at 236lb ft compared with 145lbft for the petrol). But the auto ties one hand behind the engine’s back and hurts emissions, too.
How does it drive?
Very well. The Qashqai +2 corners neatly and grips strongly. The ride is soft and comfortable, especially if you choose one of the front-wheel-drive models, but body control is firm enough to stop kids getting car sick or the driver getting bored.
Choosing a four-wheel-drive version means extra weight to haul around, and there is a penalty to pay at the pumps. But economy and emissions are better than most compact 4x4s’, and you’re less likely to be ostracised by the local PTA.
As a seven-seater, the Qashqai+2 doesn’t cut it. Those rear seats are just too cramped, even for kids. But as a Qashqai with more passenger space and a more usable boot, the +2 starts to add up.
It drives well, looks good, and makes a practical alternative to mainstream hatches and MPVs.