This is the third-generation Nissan Qashqai, with more high-tech systems and interior space, and an all-hybrid engine line-up.
Available in two- and four-wheel-drive versions, with manual and automatic gearboxes, the Qashqai is built in Sunderland. Buy this Nissan, and you are buying British.
Choose from 1.3-litre petrols with 140hp or 158hp. Both have mild-hybrid technology; the car can’t be driven on electric power alone, but the battery and starter-generator can take the strain off the engine.
There’s a third, unusual power option joining the range soon; the ePower hybrid. This will have a 187hp petrol engine, but rather than driving the car directly, it’s a generator for the electric motor.
We’ve been driving the more powerful of the two mild hybrids, matched to an Xtronic automatic gearbox and powering the front wheels.
Nissan quotes a kerbweight of 1467kg to 1511kg. Working from the lower weight gives an 85% match figure of 1247kg, a long way below the legal maximum of 1800kg.
We matched the Nissan to our Bailey Discovery D4-4, with a MiRO of 1059kg. It’s a very light caravan, but the Qashqai had to work hard to pull it.
The 1.3-litre petrol has reasonable torque of 199lb ft, but all that pulling power seems to arrive at once, because the engine is very flat at low revs. Like many petrol tow cars, it’s quicker than it seems, so long as you have a heavy right foot, but the low-rev lethargy makes it feel sluggish.
The on-off power delivery is especially irritating in wet weather, when it’s easy to briefly spin the wheels while pulling away. The car seems hesitant, you apply a bit more throttle, then the engine wakes up with a start. It’s a quirk that you learn to drive around, and we suspect it will need less adjustment if you opt for a 4×4.
Once up to speed, the engine is quiet. Only road noise disturbs the peace in the cabin, but this can be quite intrusive when driving over concrete surfaces.
Steady performance we can live with, but stability is a must0have quality in any tow car. Fortunately, here, the Nissan makes up a lot of lost ground. There’s very little movement at speed, even when overtaking a coach or lorry.
There’s a composed feel to the Qashqai that makes it seem like a much bigger and heavier car when you are behind the wheel.
Car and caravan handle well on a country road as well as on the motorway, with the Nissan’s firm suspension keeping the outfit on an even keel, although engine and gearbox are kept busy holding speed on an incline.
Arrive at the campsite, and the Qashqai springs no great surprises. It manoeuvres easily, and the reversing camera is a plus when hitching up. Our test car was supplied with a removable towball and fold-down electrics. The ball is well clear of the bumper, and although the socket is a little tucked away, it wasn’t unduly difficult to slot the plug home.
We do understand why carmakers like Nissan are moving away from diesel power, but we still can’t help thinking that a good turbodiesel would transform the Qashqai as a tow car. It’s very stable, but there’s potential that remains untapped.
Nissan says the Qashqai is fun to drive, and up to a point that’s true. It corners neatly and resists lean, and there’s plenty of grip. However, the steering is very light and feels a bit remote, so that driving the Qashqai is less involving than being behind the wheel of a Seat Ateca.
The Nissan’s ride is firm, but not overly so. High-spec models like our test car have more sophisticated suspension than the lower reaches of the range, which helps to combine control and acceptable comfort.
However, if a cushy ride is your priority, take a look at the Škoda Karoq. Overall, though, the Qashqai strikes a good balance between Seat dynamism and Škoda comfort.
The Qashqai has grown in every direction, reflected in the more spacious cabin. Finish quality has also jumped a notch. There are some harder plastics here and there, but the overall standard is high, with soft-touch materials and quilted leather seats on our Tekna+ test car.
We’re pleased Nissan has put ease of use over looks, keeping the air-con controls separate from the touchscreen and placing short-cut buttons under the screen.
The driving position adjusts over a wide range, and even with a panoramic sunroof, there’s sufficient headroom in the front. In the back, there’s enough legroom for adults to travel comfortably.
Boot space has improved, with a 436-litre capacity with the rear seats upright. Fold the seats and that increases to 1379 litres.
Buying and owning
Go for Tekna+ spec and you get just about every conceivable gadget, including front seats that give you a massage as you drive.
If you are happy to forgo the back rub, the mid-spec N-Connecta looks better value, at £5500 less than the range-topping Tekna+. We achieved 23.7mpg while towing, a figure that a good turbodiesel ought to beat.
We like the Qashqai a lot,. It’s more practical and better to drive than before, and very stable to tow with. Smoother power delivery would make a decent tow car even better.
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There's a composed feel to the Qashqai that makes it seem like a much bigger and heavier car when you are behind the wheel
|Engine Size||1332 cc|
|85% KW||1247 kg|
|Towball Limit||100 kg|
|Maximum Towing Limit||1800 kg|
|Torque||199 lb ft|
|Offical MPG||43.8 mpg|
|Towing MPG||23.7 mpg|