REVIEW DATE: 18 Dec 2009
The versatile seven-seater '+2' model is a valuable part of the Qashqai range. Andy Enright reports.
Nissan has some form when it comes to bucking convention. When the Almera was pensioned off, it wasn't replaced by anything directly comparable. The same went for the Primera, evidence that Nissan was tearing up the rule book and abandoning this middle market. Instead, the company concentrated on producing more 'lifestyle' choices amongst its vehicle portfolio with cars like the Micra C+C, the 350Z, the Pathfinder and the Navara all doing very good business.
The Qashqai has also been a big hit, offering an alternative to the conventional family hatch without looking like a big, profligate urban 4x4. In Qashqai+2 form, it's bigger but still looks anything but a Chelsea tractor. This seven-seat version taps into a market that needs a sizeable family car that will occasionally host more than five occupants but which still looks socially acceptable and has a modicum of style. Think for a moment how many other cars can fulfil that brief and you'll understand why Nissan is so bullish about this model.
There's a wide choice of engines available to Qashqai customers with two diesels and two petrol powerplants to consider. Things start off with a 1.6-litre 115bhp petrol unit and move up through 106bhp 1.5dCi diesel and 140bhp 2.0-litre petrol units before topping-out with the 150bhp 2.0-litre dCi diesel. Nissan hasn't skimped when it comes to transmission options either, the Qashqai being supplied with five and six-speed manual boxes, a six-speed auto option and even an advanced Constantly Variable Transmission (CVT).
"There aren't too many cars that aim to exploit the niche for a compact and stylish seven-seat 4x4s"
The ALL-MODE 4x4 system is available on the 2.0-litre vehicles with the others sending drive to the front wheels only. This is an electronic system which automatically engages four-wheel drive the moment a loss of traction is detected. It offers more safety and security in extreme weather on-road. Nissan makes no bones of the fact that the Qashqai is anything but an off-roader, citing its lack of ground clearance. What precludes it from tackling rutted tracks makes it a better car on the blacktop, the hunkered down centre of gravity giving the Nissan its nimble feel.
The Qashqai+2 weighs 100kg more than its five-seat sibling and the suspension and steering systems have been retuned to take account of this. The latest cars also have revised suspension settings to improve things further from ride and handling standpoint. Refinement is boosted by multi-layer insulation in the front bulkhead and a special soundproof windscreen.
Everything from the windscreen pillars forward is standard Qashqai. Everything behind this point has been modified in the Qashqai+2. The wheelbase has been extended by 135mm and the overall length has grown by 211mm to 4,526mm. To make sure that rear seat occupants don't feel too hemmed in, the roof line has been reprofiled as well, adding 38mm to the car's height. The doors have been redesigned and the side windows are now bigger, as is the rear tailgate window, making the back feel anything but claustrophobic. The middle row of seats splits 40/40/40 and the backrest reclines to no fewer than nine adjustment positions.
The back row of seats is designed for kids or adults up to 1.6m (5'3"), the seats fold 50/50 and can be folded away simply by pulling a strap. There's no need to go through the hassle of removing head rests first. When folded down, there's a massive 500 litres of stowage space, and the rear hatch is both wider and has a lower loading sill than the standard Qashqai model. There's even an underfloor stowage area to keep valuables out of sight. The sturdy lid of this stowage area also doubles as a cargo divider to prevent your eggs getting squashed by your Irn Bru.
A more aggressive frontal styling treatment marks out the latest Qashqai+2 from its pre-facelift forbear. It wasn't merely an exercise in reshaping the headlights and grille either, bonnet, bumper, grille, headlamps and wings all got the treatment. Around the back, little has changed aside from subtle aerodynamic tweaks and LED lights.
Like the five-seat Qashqai, the +2 is available in various different trim and equipment versions - Visia, Acenta and Tekna. Depending on the version, standard equipment includes automatic lighting, automatic wipers, speed sensitive door locking, cruise control, privacy glass, electric windows, parking sensors, a choice of 16 or 17-inch alloy wheels and Nissan's Intelligent Key. Manual or automatic air conditioning incorporates mild flow ventilation while to provide sufficient airflow for the rearmost passengers, a larger compressor is fitted. The N-Tec and Tekna models feature the Nissan Connect system which incorporates Bluetooth connectivity, touch screen satellite navigation, a colour reversing camera, an MP3 compatible CD stereo and a USB interface for connecting MP3 players.
Nissan has built an enviable reputation for safety and the Qashqai incorporates a number of noteworthy features. Accurate electrically-assisted power steering, multi-link rear suspension and beefy anti-lock brakes with brake assist and electronic brakeforce distribution should well be enough to keep you out of a prang in the first instance and there's also the additional safety net of advanced ESP stability control.
There's little doubt that the Qashqai will find ready buyers when the time comes to sell as it seems to have struck a chord with British customers looking for a socially responsible alternative to the usual 'Chelsea tractor.' The front wheel drive cars are in even hotter demand than the four-wheel drive models as a result.
The front-wheel drive 2.0 dCi diesel model with the manual gearbox returns 43.4mpg. To give you an idea of how easy it is to dent this once all-wheel drive comes into the equation, the automatic 4x4 diesel variant gets a mere 37.1mpg. The same goes for carbon dioxide emissions. Where the 2wd manual diesel emits a reasonable 165g/km, the 4x4 diesel automatic isn't anything like so saintly at 199g/km. Going for the petrol 1.6? Well, the official combined fuel economy figure of 41.5mpg is a lot better than you'd expect from a petrol-powered compact 4x4. Go for the 2.0-litre petrol and that figure falls to 35.3mpg.
There aren't too many cars that aim to exploit the niche for a compact and stylish seven-seat 4x4s, which bodes well for the Qashqai+2 from Nissan. Like all the best ideas, it's dumbfounding that nobody thought of it before. Perhaps it's a case of an idea whose time has come. Research has shown that we demand more of our cars in terms of space and versatility but this is balanced against an increasing environmental concern that makes big, profligate vehicles appear rather gauche.
The Nissan Qashqai+2 taps into the zeitgeist and is sure to generate a host of me-too imitators in due course. Many of these will be rushed into production without the depth of engineering of the Qashqai+2. With a broad range that encompasses four engines, four trim levels and the choice of two or four-wheel drive more success should be forthcoming.
The results below show the top QASHQAI+2 deals on buyacar
|Nissan Qashqai+2 1.6 dCi Tekna 5dr [Start Stop] diesel hatchback|
|Price £21,809||Save £4,231|
|Nissan Qashqai+2 1.6  Acenta 5dr hatchback|
|Price £16,370||Save £3,670|
|Nissan Qashqai+2 1.6 dCi Tekna 5dr 4WD [Start Stop] diesel hatchback|
|Price £23,229||Save £4,361|
|Nissan Qashqai+2 1.6  Visia 5dr hatchback|
|Price £15,537||Save £2,653|
|Nissan Qashqai+2 1.5 dCi  Visia 5dr diesel hatchback|
|Price £17,078||Save £2,812|
|VIEW MORE DISCOUNT QASHQAI+2 DEALS|
|For QASHQAI +2|
|OVERALL||7.2 OUT OF 10|
|Space / Versatility||6|
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