2014 Nissan Qashqai: the best family car you won’t buy

Open up a tub of cheese footballs and pour yourself a glass of Lambrusco – there’s an all-new 2014 Nissan Qashqai in town. Readers of PetrolBlog would be forgiven for being a little nonplused by this news, but with over two million Qashqais sold since its introduction in 2007, there’s a good chance that someone in your office or a person in your street will either own or have owned a Qashqai at some point.

The Nissan Qashqai is arguably the antithesis of PetrolBlog. If subjected to the tried and tested PetrolBlog Score, it would possibly achieve the lowest score ever recorded on the site. So you may wonder why we were in Madrid for the launch of the 2014 Nissan Qashqai.

The Nissan Qashqai: a quite remarkable vehicle

Well like it or not, the Nissan Qashqai is a quite remarkable vehicle. A game changer, a pioneer and an unbridled success. Nissan took a real punt when launching the crossover in 2007. The firm had absolutely no idea if the thing would sell.

You need to remember, the Nissan Qashqai replaced the Almera – a car in serial decline. Cars like the Qashqai simply didn’t exist. Practical types would have bought an estate car, an MPV or a 4×4. Nissan invented an entirely new sector, albeit a sector with a stupid name. Crossover, indeed.

2014 Nissan Qashqai

But where Nissan led, others soon followed. Today, supermarket car parks are awash with crossovers. The Yeti, the Sportage, the CX-5, the Tiguan, the Kuga, etc, etc. You can easily spot them, as they tend to have a daft name on the back and will be the car most likely to leave a car park ding when parked alongside you.

The Nissan Qashqai may not be a car to set the pulse racing. And it will come as no shock to discover the new car is no more exciting than the last. But if you were Nissan, would you change a winning formula? You can’t blame them for continuing to milk the Qashqai.

A series of small but significant improvements

Instead, Nissan has made a series of small but significant improvements in order to make the new Qashqai more appealing than the last. And it works, not least because the new car is significantly more attractive. It’s a sharp looking thing. Maybe too familiar from certain angles, but you can blame the crowded sector for that.

It immediately feels like a more premium product. The doors shut with a reassuring thud and the key touchpoints feel reassuringly expensive. The handles, buttons and switches are built to survive a lifetime of unforgiving treatment. Perceived quality and longevity are two areas where the new car scores highly over the old one.

2014 Nissan Qashqai interior

It’s spacious, too. Nissan has made the car 47mm longer and 20mm wider than before, helping to increase knee and legroom. By lowering the roofline by 15mm to improve aerodynamics, Nissan has restricted the amount of headroom in the back, but for children, which – let’s face it –  is what the back seats are aimed at, it’s fine.

There’s just enough room in the back for three adults, but the middle seat passenger is likely to find the lack of seat support tough going on long trips, not to mention the feeling of being cramped between two other people.

2014 Nissan Qashqai boot

On the plus side, the amount of space in the boot has increased by 20 litres to a total of 430 litres. And the Luggage Board System – which essentially creates segments within the boot, along with a reversible shelf for wet or dry use – is pitched perfectly for this sector. It comes as standard on the Acenta trim upwards.

Taking the long way home simply isn’t an option

All credible stuff, but not exactly in keeping with the PetrolBlog spirit. But then that’s not really the point of cars like the Qashqai. These vehicles exist for people for whom driving is more of a chore than a pleasure. Taking the long way home simply isn’t an option.

A Nissan Qashqai is fundamentally aimed at people who like to get from A to B in the quickest and least stressful means possible. If a car looks good, is priced well, has the right amount of toys and is easy to drive, then it’ll do just fine. Just like the dishwasher, washing machine and fridge.

Rear of 2014 Nissan Qashqai

Yes, it’s hard to believe some people don’t love cars and driving as much as you, but the dramatic growth of the C-segment crossover sector, combined with the fact that year-on-year, sales of the Qashqai are still growing, suggests there’s a huge appetite for such vehicles.

Nissan has ditched the plain Jane styling

And the Qashqai has the potential to continue leaving the others trailing in its wake. By ditching the Plain Jane, almost Tonka Toy styling of its predecessor, in favour of a sharper and more dramatic approach, Nissan has ensured that existing owners will be tempted back into the dealership for an upgrade.

Naturally, Nissan ensured the launch cars were presented in the most appealing colours and in the more desirable trim levels, so it’s almost certain that the base spec Qashqai Visia – which does without the likes of alloy wheels, fog lights, privacy glass and roof rails – will look nowhere near as good as the cars tested in Madrid.

The 2014 Nissan Qashqai

Nissan told PetrolBlog that the new Qashqai was developed in order to flatter the driving skills of the typical buyer. Crossover fans tend not to be interested in steering feel, throttle response and a sweet-shifting gearbox.

With this in mind, Nissan has developed a new Chassis Control system, available across the range. Active Ride Control uses subtle braking to keep the ride quality in check, whilst Active Trace Control acts like a limited slip differential, braking the inside wheel to improve traction and stability.

It works. On Spanish roads – many of which were typical of a British B-road – the Qashqai was composed and settled through the tightest of bends, controlled over rough surfaces and – above all else – predictable. It’s unlikely that anyone will get into trouble when driving a Qashqai.

Perfectly adequate performance

Not that the Qashqai’s performance could tempt anyone into anything other than a brisk drive.

Three engines are available from launch, and PetrolBlog tested them all in Madrid. The 1.5-litre dCi diesel’s trump card is its ability to return CO2 emissions of just 99 g/km. The new 1.6-litre dCi diesel offers greater torque and punch, at the expense of economy and emissions. Both are perfectly adequate, but can feel off the pace if you venture outside the engine’s sweet spot.

2014 Nissan Qashqai cabin

Crucially, the 1.6-litre dCi is available with a really-rather-good CVT transmission. Nissan was keen to eradicate the ‘rubber band’ feeling of CVT ‘boxes of old and by adding artificial steps to the transmission, Nissan has worked its magic. Sure, neither of the diesel engines are inspiring and the CVT transmission is nothing to get excited about. But we need to go back to the original point – there’s no need for fireworks with the new car.

Perhaps predictably, PetrolBlog reckons the 1.2-litre DIG-T is the engine of choice. By producing a remarkable 113bhp and 190Nm of torque, the tiny petrol engine does an excellent job of hauling the relatively bulky car around.

The car feels less sluggish and more willing to entertain. Maybe it’s because it demands more gear changes and a need to pay attention to overtaking manoeuvres and hills, therefore appealing more to the spirit of PetrolBlog. But for town driving and those who only do a limited amount of miles, it has to be the engine of choice.

Visia trim has the potential to feel rather ordinary

The trim level of choice? Well that would have to be either the Acenta Premium or the Tekna. The base spec Visia simply does without too many must-have options and has the potential to feel rather ordinary. Similarly, Acenta does without front and rear parking sensors, which – thanks to the Qashqai’s limited rearward visibility – are essential options.

2014 Nissan Qashqai rear seats

If you’re opting for a car like the Nissan Qashqai, where practicality is positioned above all else, then a few luxuries are essential. Which is why the 19-inch alloys, panoramic glass roof and heated leather seats of the top-level Tekna trim appeal. Sadly the Park Assist unit seemed to involve a lot of faff compared to other systems on the market.

Tell your neighbour to buy a 2014 Nissan Qashqai

So in short, the new 2014 Nissan Qashqai is probably one of the best cars you could buy for family duties. It’s British-designed, British-built, looks good, goes okay, is brilliantly executed and has the potential to deliver many, many years of satisfactory and unflinching motoring. So of course, it’s of very limited interest to the good readers of PetrolBlog. Yes, both of you.

White 2014 Nissan Qashqai in Madrid

But if your neighbour does come round looking for advice on their next choice of family car, you could do a lot worse than recommend a new Nissan Qashqai. But only after you’ve suggested the Renault Avantime, Matra Rancho and Toyota Space Cruiser. There, that feels better, doesn’t it?

Prices for the 2014 Nissan Qashqai start from £17,595. It’s available to order from the 16th January 2014 from all good Nissan dealers. And some bad ones, too. For news on a potential 300hp Nissan Qashqai Nismo, click here.

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ABOUT AUTHOR
Gavin Big-Surname
The chief waffler and founder of PetrolBlog in 2010. Has a rather unhealthy obsession with cars from the 80s and 90s, and is on a one-man mission to collect the cars nobody else wants. Also likes tea and Hobnobs.

14 comments

  1. January 17, 2014
    Ant

    Nice review Gav. You’ve hit the nail on the head with the PB ethos too – having now driven it myself, I’m struggling to think of another car so good at what it does, yet so completely disinteresting to me on every level!

    Reply
  2. June 30, 2014
    Pete

    Interesting review! I think it’s a fun car to drive actually. Not much power but decent handling, quiet, comfortable, lots of tech toys (especially in Tekna spec). Looks good too. We were thinking of buying a VW Passat Estate as a family wagon, but the new Qashqai is much more interesting. Who cares if “Crossover” is a silly name/concept, it’s a refreshing change for those like me who are thoroughly bored of traditional estate cars.

    Reply
    • July 2, 2014
      Gavin Braithwaite-Smith

      And I’d agree.

      The more I think about the Qashqai, the more I grow to like it. Sensibly, most buyers in the UK appear to be choosing the right trim levels and the best colours. There’s little doubt, the new Qashqai cuts a mean figure.

      And having driven more of its competitors since posting the review, I can appreciate it even more.

      It’s really very, very good.

      Reply
      • October 13, 2014
        Geoffrey Bungle

        Agree .Just wish Nissan had a better Warranty to compete with Toyota,Kia,Hyundai etc.

        Reply
  3. July 10, 2014
    Jeff Lewis

    After reading lots and lots of reviews I decided this is the car for me, so off I went to the dealer to place my order, after going through all the paperwork the salesman put the order into Nisan, came back to me and said the waiting list is 7 months. To say you are buying British and supporting British workers this is a joke! And to top it all up I sent the CEO of Nisan an email asking why the wait was so long, but one of his directors replied saying that they were working 6 days a week, and I will be very pleased when I take delivery.
    My main gripe is that nowhere and no one seems to have published this long waiting time?

    Reply
    • July 12, 2014
      Martin F

      Wow 7 months !!! I was griping about a 3 month wait when I booked mine (happily now) 3 months ago. Take delivery on Monday – 1.5dci Accenta – so hoping it will live up to my initial test drive in regular life. Will miss the Audi but needs must when the missus has to drive it as well.

      Reply
    • September 29, 2014
      Rianjdeus

      Hi Jeff, u r absolutely right about the waiting times. I had ordered my car in Feb Tekna CVT and just got it delivered in Sept.

      Reply
      • September 29, 2014
        Gavin Braithwaite-Smith

        Checked with Nissan. The response was:

        “there is currently a waiting list simply due to an overwhelming response by customers. Sunderland is currently working flat out”

        A predictable response, really.

        Reply
        • October 9, 2014
          K Dover

          Ordered a cvt tekna quashqi in feb told to expect delivery in June than August and then September next probably not going to be this year,now march or April, !! Nissan, dealer don’t appear to give a toss.!!!

          Reply
        • November 19, 2014
          Help Needed

          There is a long wait I believe due gearbox problems, on the CVT anyway.. There are many of us with brand new cars back in the workshop awaiting new gearboxes. Minimum wait seems to be 6 weeks. Wait over 6 months for the car, then pay over all that money and have no car to show for it. Top Gear and Auto Express have negative comments on their review pages from unhappy customers. Very sad and fed up. Hoping for a refund asap.

          Reply
  4. August 13, 2014
    Terry

    Great review. I drive a q 2010. I hope the new model has addressed the failure on all door handles. Been locked into the car due to mechanical failure of a simple door handle is a pain. They should be recalled to correct this issue. I know at least 5 other q owners that have had the same problem (and main dealers don’t want to stand over, however I have got them to replace mine (individually when each one fails which is a pain as I have to go back each time) (all should be replaced but I think it is the main dealers way of prevent a flood of returns) anyway just thought I’d add this comment for anyone new purchases.
    Cheers

    Reply
    • August 13, 2014
      Gavin Braithwaite-Smith

      Thanks for posting, Terry. Interesting to note that this is the second time someone has mentioned this to me.

      New car certainly feels like a huge step up, so issues like this should no longer be an issue…

      Reply
  5. November 27, 2014
    Steve

    Ordered Deb, picked up May, so many orders going in, not surprised as Car of The Year. No dealers at the time had a Bronze in to look at, you need to see the car in its colour before ordering so played safe with Storm White. Mpg is a dream, 1.5d will average 58mpg, 1.6d will average 54mpg, that’s driving gently. On the motorway at 75mph you need the wind behind as 10mph wind against and you will average under 50mpg!!!, due really to streamline shape, sloped bonnet would have improved. collected with fault, air on pipe fouling and rattling, new one fitted 2 months later. Seat leather is cheap man made, I am 11stone but within 2 weeks puckering up on base. Carpets material poor quality, hard to vacuum clean, both these points based against my last car BMW, ordered rubber mats, a must to keep floor clean £60. Have done 15,000miles now, front parking sensor goes off when conditions are wet, have to put in to NISSAN also stop/start only works half the time, wait until first service at 18,000mls. Great points are many, extras would cost an extra £10,000 with BMW, car is very quiet, lies about 1.6d, I have driven 1.5 , three times, they are the same quiet, cannot distinguish between the 2 other than the power. Road holding is great, no sinking on bends plus brakes dab automatically steering your line safely when flying into a corner. Inbuilt emergency brake works and stops the car if your going to collide, also buzzer sounds if it sees dangerous situation, impossible to crash this vehicle unless your an idiot! Nice big 19″ wheels, quality tyres, glue kit for puncture in every language but English, make sure you know how to use it, I had fast puncture getting onto ferry late at night, used kit and fixed did 2500miles before going to kwikfit, new tyre fitted as huge lump metal embedded in. Could do with more Hp as 130hp would be weak if you pulled a Caravan.

    Reply
  6. December 18, 2014
    Martin

    I was lucky and took delivery a couple of weeks after deciding I wanted one. Spacious, practical and economical. It might be a trusty fridge as cars go, but for those with kids (and consequently busy lives) you can’t go far wrong.

    Reply

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