► Testing the new 2019 Nissan Qashqai
► Mid-life facelift for #1 crossover
► New engines, better infotainment
Facing more crossover competition than ever before, the evergreen Nissan Qashqai has been given a timely boost with the addition of a new engine, gearbox and infotainment system for the 2019 model year.
Hold on, hasn’t the Nissan Qashqai just been facelifted only last year?
Yes, and no. In the summer of 2017 it was given a mid-life facelift but that was very much what it said on the tin. There were no engine or drivetrain revamps and the infotainment system was still below where it needed to be.
So the 2019 refresh is a more thorough update for the Qashqai?
It is. While the looks are the same, the important bits (i.e. under the bonnet) have now been addressed, with the end result being the graceful retirement of the 1.2- and 1.6-litre petrols, replaced by a new 1.3-litre DIG-T four-cylinder (that, whisper it, is shared with the Mercedes-Benz A-Class).
Available in two states of tune, 138bhp and 158bhp, it’s a smooth, tractable engine that’s easy to drive and more than capable of hauling the Qashqai along regardless of which output you go for.
Part of this is down to the increase in torque, especially in the lower powered version. Climbing from 140lb ft in the 1.2-litre to 177lb ft in the 1.3, the improvement in low-down (from 1600rpm) pulling power is marked and lends the Qashqai a more relaxed feel when gaining speed.
It also means you don’t have to explore the higher reaches of the rev range, where, again, the 138bhp version in particular does get a little coarse, with a notable drop off of power beyond 5000rpm.
We’d also question the claimed average fuel economy of up 53.2mpg on average, as we saw nothing like this on test – although admittedly the cars had only done a few hundred miles at the time.
Still, drive like a responsible citizen and the new 1.3-litre is a big improvement over the previous engines, not to mention the improved CO2 and longer service intervals (18,000 instead of a wallet-crippling 12,500 miles).
You can also spec a brand-new gearbox with the 158hp version, the seven-speed dual-clutch DCT taking influence from the unit fitted in the manufacturer’s GTR halo car no less, according to Nissan.
And while the Qashqai can’t quite keep up with its sister car for outright performance, we couldn’t help but notice the 158hp 1.3-litre Qashqai with the seven-speed DCT felt surprisingly nippy from the lights – far more so than its unremarkable 9.9-second 0-62mph time would suggest.
Thankfully, when you’re not embarrassing Golf GTIs from a standing start, it produces slick, timely gearchanges that add to the easy-going driving experience. The Qashqai remains a very easy mid-sized car to plug into family duties.
And the new infotainment system?
A traditional weak spot of the Qashqai, Nissan has swapped the existing unit for a brand-new system – and not a moment too soon.
Apple CarPlay (above) and Android Auto functionality has finally been added, as has over-the-air (OTA) software and map updates, 3D maps and real-time traffic information by TomTom, voice recognition and customisable menus.
It’s a welcome update, with the new features meaning the Qashqai is, on paper at least, not left behind by its rivals in the multimedia stakes. Being brutally honest, it’s still not got the polish of better resolved Volkswagen systems, but it’s a useful update over what’s come before.
Read on for our full review of the Nissan Qashqai range.
Nissan Qashqai review
The Nissan Qashqai is one of those icons of the British car industry. Forget Minis or premium JagRovers; the BBC News is more likely to feature the QashCow in bulletins when discussing how the nation's manufacturing base is doing.
And for good reason - the Qashqai is one of the runaway success stories of the past decade, and it was designed, engineered and built in the UK. After abandoning the mainstream hatchback sectors and euthanasing the unloved Almera and Primera, Nissan struck on a bold path with the Qashqai a decade ago.
The gamble paid off. The company has sold 2.3 million since. We're now firmly into the Mk2's lifecycle and it's time to give some mid-life facelift love.
Nissan Qashqai facelift: gentle evolution
The improvements for the 2019 model year add to the gentle all-round polish given in summer 2017 - with no dramatic restyling deemed necessary. Think of marginal gains in the world of international sport: a design buff-up here, a hint of new headlamps and safety kit there - plus a side portion of gentle tech improvements.
Nissan has certainly been careful not to throw out the baby with the bath water; this series of mid-life facelifts will scare precisely nobody. Handy when the QQ finds itself in fourth spot on the UK's bestsellers' chart in the first 11 months of 2018 with some 47,000 sold.
So 2018's recontoured light graphics front and rear, remoulded bumpers, the addition of rectangular (rather than round) foglamps, a shark-fin aerial and new chrome appliqué under the rear bumper are hardly startling stuff. But then they didn't need to be.
The interior changes wrought for 2018 had more wide-reaching (though still subtle) changes, with a greater focus on quality materials. Customers have been consistently asking for posher fit and finish - and Nissan has tried to do just that with the Qashqai upgrades over the years. Slightly more premium materials are used in key locations and there's an all-new, flat-bottomed three-spoke steering wheel, designed to be nicer to hold and twiddle, as well as giving 17% greater visibility of the dials. So Nissan claims.
Browse Nissan Qashqai for sale in our classifieds section
Check out also the new latticework-effect leather upholstery on the new top trim grade, Tekna+. Nissan keeps mucking around with its spec levels and Tekna+ is just the latest iteration of its range-topping trim, complete with fancy 19in alloy wheels, four-way pneumatic lumbar support and memory function linked to the driver for seat and mirrors.
It's one of the cars we're testing here, in admittedly toppy 1.6 dCi 130 diesel spec, 4WD with six-speed manual gearbox. You'll spot the Qashqai Tekna+ by its satin silver door mirror caps and huge rims. What with sister brand Renault fitting 20s to the Scenic, the race to giant alloy wheels shows no signs of abating... Just wait until tyre replacement time, is all we'll say. Eighteens can be fitted as a no-cost option and it's one we'd recommend.
Also new on the Tekna+ spec is a smashing eight-speaker Bose stereo, which has rich, clear sounds and straightforward touchscreen operation. It's just a shame that the Qashqai did without Apple CarPlay and Android Auto before the 2019 model year; you'll have to plug your phone in to listen to your own tunes on the go on pre-facelift models.
First-world problems and that...
Does it work? Does the new 2019 Nissan Qashqai feel more - whisper it - premium?
It does feel smarter than the plastic-fest of yore. In fairness, the Mk1 had pretty shockingly cheap plastics, while the Mk2 moved up a gear in 2014. These mid-life improvements improved things further, but you'll never mistake it for a smart Audi Q or Volvo XC.
Mind you, the Nissan Qashqai is nicely finished for a mass-market product and there's a decent squidge to most plastics you'll see and prod in the front. The NissanConnect touchscreen is a bit on the small side, but works simply and effectively, with revisions to the interface to make it feel more familiar to smartphone users (see below).
The new Qashqai is a practical proposition, too. Front-seat passengers will be very comfy in the new front seats (better foam padding, a longer squab and reprofiled side support) and there's plenty of space. Clamber into the back and room is a little bit more generous thanks to the contours of the front pews.
Just watch out for a little less headroom if you order the full-length panoramic glass roof. This bathes the cabin in a light, airy ambience - your kids will love the skyview above.
Can I get seven seats in a Nissan Qashqai?
Nope. The Qashqai +2 is dead, don't forget. You'll need to upgrade to the Nissan X-Trail for that pleasure. The QQ has just two rows of seats here, and the rear bench is fixed.
Boot space? The Qashqai is only average at 430 litres, trailing the likes of the Kia Sportageand Mazda CX-5 rivals. But the Qashqai retains its nifty false boot floor, which can be used to separate the loadbay into different zones - handy if you're trying to stop bags of shopping rolling around or want to segregate damp sports clothes, say. Flop the seats down, and bootspace swells to 1598 litres.
Enough practicality! What's it like to drive?
Forgive us the focus on the nitty-gritty of the package. It is, after all, the main reason people flock to the Qashqai. But those who do take the plunge won't be disappointed by the way it drives.
This is an annoyingly accomplished drive, well judged for its target buyer, who's probably swapped out of a family hatchback, or traded down from a larger SUV. It's fine around town, on the motorway or just schlepping along country lanes.
It's not about corner carving or outright performance, mind (ever seen a Qashqai Nismo on the road? Thought not...). The name of the game here is simple, relaxing family transport and all Nissan's endeavours with the 2019 facelift are channeled in this relaxing, calming direction.
Our tech editor casts his eye over the changes made to the new Nissan Qashqai
Quieter, smoother... yet no thrills whatsoever
Engineering changes are focused on the new drivetrains and infotainment, following on from 2017's acoustics and chassis upgrades. So there are lashings of extra sound deadening, clever under-floor aero flicks and thicker rear glass to quell wind noise, plus gently recalibrated springs, dampers and anti-roll bars to improve ride comfort and Nissan has done nothing to rework these settings.
As well as that new, flat-bottomed steering wheel, the lower shaft that attaches the pinion to the rack is marginally thicker, providing extra stiffness and purer responses. It's supposed to have a better self-centering feel, but it's still a pretty numb helm. Traction is strong in the 4WD model, but we'd be tempted to pick a FWD Qashqai and save the pennies.
There's little fun to be had hustling the diesel Qashqai fast (pick the 1.6 turbo petrol if you want to rev). Instead, slow down and enjoy the remarkably supple new ride - even with the Tekna+ standard-fit 19s, it smothers bumps and road acne remarkably well. And, yes, it is a quieter, more refined place now with remarkably little wind rustle. Job done.
Read the full, detailed Nissan Qashqai review by our sister website Parkers
Nissan knows its target buyer extremely well and has created just the car that the great British public will lap up. Could the new 2019 Qashqai be a touch more exciting, to look at and drive? For sure. Is it a measured step forward to provide more polish and the same old practicality and crossover vibe that buyers crave - at democratic prices? You bet.
Prices start at £19,295. Pick of the range? It's hard to argue with the 99g/km CO2 of the 1.5 dCi in more modest N-Connecta trim, the likely best seller at £25,555. It's mission accomplished with the Mk2.5 Nissan Qashqai. Britain expects...
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