A NEW engine is set to transform Britain's leading crossover as Nissan goes about making even more changes to its top-selling Qashqai.
It's a 1.3-litre turbo petrol developed by the Nissan Renault Alliance and in the latest Qashqai it is boosted to either 140 or 160ps.
Replacing the current 1.2 and 1.6 engines it promises savings on the fuel front and on running costs with service intervals extended to 18,000 miles.
Prices start from £19,595 for the lower powered version in Visia trim and from £23,655 for the 160 engine which comes on stream in Acenta Premium grade models.
The 1.6-litre engine also sees Nissan offering a seven-speed direct clutch semi-automatic transmission as an option for the first time, although prices for Qashqais with the new box are still to be determined.
The new engines are arriving as Nissan adds more technology to the Qashqai with an App-based Connect sat nav system as well as making the car compatible with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto devices.
With the Qashqai getting a heavy mid-life makeover only last year the changes bring the car right up to date and the line up will be extended next year with the arrival of a new 1.7-litre diesel model available in both two and four-wheel drive and with a CVT gearbox as an option.
On the road, the new powertrains are impressive and can only add to the Qashqai's strength which has seen the British-built model notch up more than half a million sales in the UK since it first arrived back in 2007.
There's much more low end power from the new engine and that makes the Qashqai even more user-friendly, especially around town.
Nissan has developed an electronically operated waste gate for the turbocharger and that has helped the power delivery considerably.
Compared to the 1.2-litre engine the new 140ps unit is rated at 10.3 seconds 0 to 60 as opposed to 10.6 and with 160ps on tap it matches the previous 1.6-litre at 8.9 seconds.
More significant are the fuel economy figures which rate the new engine at 53.3mpg in both power outputs and that's a five miles per gallon improvement over the 1.2 and seven compared to the 1.6.
Emissions are down to 121g/km and on our runs with the new engine we saw an average of 36 to the gallon from the 140ps and a fraction more from the higher powered engine.
The new DCT box is very good with smooth, seamless changes throughout its seven speed range and that has been helped by Nissan using a wet clutch set up.
Its rated at 9.9 seconds 0 to 60 with an official fuel return 51.4mpg and emissions of 122g/km, although we could manage only 30mpg on average.
Both engines are nicely quiet and a noticeable improvement. The cars are also fitted with particulate filters to help on the emissions front.
The new NissanConnect infotainment system is also a clever piece of kit and includes voice control and a simplified navigation system as well as the ability to personalise the home screen on the display panel for convenient short cuts.
While it has cleaned up the operating system with fewer buttons the integrated seven-inch screen in the dashboard is still a little on the small side.
Nevertheless, the improvements in functionality outweigh the looks and are unlikely to upset Qashqai fans.
With the current anti-diesel trend Nissan looks well placed to keep Qashqai sales buoyant with its new petrol engine and that can only be good for the 8,000 workers Nissan currently employs in the UK.
And the engine will not be confined to Nissan models as under the Alliance it will be available to Renault and Mitsubishi as well as Mercedes-Benz which will use it in the new A-Class.