New Qashqai the best

yet

Nissan Qashqai, 2021, front
Nissan Qashqai, 2021, side
Nissan Qashqai, 2021, rear
Nissan Qashqai, 2021, interior
Nissan Qashqai, 2021, instrument panel
Nissan Qashqai, 2021, engine
Nissan Qashqai, 2021, auto gear lever
Nissan Qashqai, 2021, rear seats
Nissan Qashqai, 2021, boot

THE car that kicked off the crossover craze is entering its third generation with the arrival of a new Nissan Qashqai.

Built in Britain at Nissan's Sunderland factory the Qashqai has become one of our favourite cars since it first hit the scene in 2007, regularly being in the top five of the sales charts.

The new car is as home-grown as they come - styled, designed and engineered at Nissan's facilities in London and Cranfield in Bedfordshire - and it takes the Qashqai into new territory.

It has matured to be a car of our times and looks the part in every way with sharp lines, a high tech interior and ready to roll for the electric age.

Priced from £23,535 - a slight increase over the outgoing model - the newcomer will be powered initially by a 1.3-litre mild-hybrid engine developing either 138 or 156bhp.

Later in the year it will be joined by the first of Nissan's new e-Power engines that uses a 1.5-litre petrol engine to generate electricity to drive the car.

We have just tried the new Qashqai in high specification Tekna and Tekna+ trim priced from £31,565 for a six-speed manual and £36,125 for an Xtronic automatic.

Both are highly equipped with the likes of a 10.8-inch head up display, a 12.3-inch TFT instrument panel and a nine-inch central display screen connected to the NissanConnect navigation and entertainment systems which are fully smartphone compatible.

The new car is bigger all round than before - its 35mm longer, 32mm wider and 10mm higher - with a wheelbase increased by 20mm which has improved handling considerably.

Luggage capacity is also increased and ranges from 436 litres to a maximum of 1,621 litres with the rear seats removed. With them folded flat the available space is 1,379 litres.

Nissan's engineers have been very clever with the rear door design on the new car which now open to 85 degrees - much wider than before - making getting in and out easier and a great bonus to anyone needing to strap a youngster into a child seat.

Extra legroom in the rear is also significant and the cabin is much more comfortable and user-friendly with high quality trim and pleasant design throughout.

Everything about the car moves it up a league in terms of quality and refinement and the same is true about its performance.

The cars we tried both had the higher powered engine which endows them with more than adequate performance. Both were front-wheel-drive and although four-wheel-drive versions will be available they are unlikely to be big sellers.

Acceleration 0 to 62mph is 9.2 seconds with a top speed of 124mph for the automatic and 9.5 seconds and 128mph for the manual with official fuel returns of 43.8mpg and 44.1 respectively.

We didn't quite manage those economy figures and saw and average of 38.4 to the gallon for the auto and 35.7 with the manual transmission.

Emissions are rated at 146 and 145g/km.

The handling and composure of the car is much improved and it feels nicely solid and accommodating with a good degree of noise insulation keeping the cabin nicely quiet.

It is also the first Qashqai to come with the option of 20-inch wheels which add to the looks and robust feel.

The auto version has a short gear selector which not only looks contemporary but is splendid to the touch and the car has a multi-mode drive selector to get the best out of the powertrain.

There's no complaints about the manual transmission either which has been enhanced to give quicker and sportier gear shifts.

The Qashqai drives with a big car feel and with quilted leather seats including a massage function standard fit on Tekna+ models there are plenty of luxury touches.

For many it is the ultimate Qashqai and the changes made to the latest model are sure to keep its status as a top-seller.

Bigger, better all round and with ultra-modern technology the mild hybrid powered model is a car of our times and comes as the company gears up to take the Qashqai into the mainstream electric age.

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