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Nissan reveals sharp-suited Mk3 Qashqai. Image by Nissan.

Nissan reveals sharp-suited Mk3 Qashqai
Much-improved cabin and HMI plus part-hybrid drivetrains mark out the all-new Nissan Qashqai.
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Newer articles featuring 2021 Nissan Qashqai

2022-04-24: Driven: 2021 Nissan Qashqai Tekna 1.3 DIG-T
2021-06-23: First Drive: Nissan Qashqai

What's all this about?

We often talk about important new cars being launched, and sometimes it's nice to imagine it's a super- or hypercar of some sort, but in reality it is rare that a fresh model comes along which is as important as a Nissan Qashqai. This is the car that (cue the massive debate about the veracity of the following claim) invented the crossover craze in 2007 and more than three million units have been sold in the intervening 14 years... and that's just in Europe. So here's the third-generation car, looking all smart, all technical and all part-electrified.

Can we kick off with the looks?

Sensible place to start. From the rear three-quarter view, you can see the old Mk2 Qashqai as plain as day, although Nissan has suitably tidied it up and it looks pretty clean. Up front, though, there's the new corporate 'face' that debuted on the second-gen Juke. That means slim, boomerang-shaped LED front lamp clusters, a V-Motion grille finished in chrome and highlighted by a secondary pinstripe of satin chrome, and generally clean surfaces. What isn't so obvious from the pics is that the Qashqai Mk3, based on the new Alliance CMF-C platform, has grown in size. It's 35mm longer, 20mm of that stretch accounted for in the wheelbase, while it's also 25mm taller and 32mm wider. It's also the first Qashqai that can optionally roll on 20-inch wheels; the old Mk2 had 19s as its biggest alloys. This fact will become pertinent shortly.

Aside from the 11 body colours and additional five two-tone combinations for the exterior, there's not much more to note here so it's inside the third-gen Qashqai we go. And, as is the fashion in the early 2020s, what you have here is a heavily digitised human-machine interface (HMI). Fear not, HVAC fans, Nissan has kept the climate controls as physical buttons in the Qashqai's centre stack, but the crossover also benefits from a nine-inch touchscreen infotainment system in the centre of the dash, a 12.3-inch TFT digital instrument cluster and also the option of a 10.8-inch Head-Up Display, said to be the largest in the segment. Nissan makes big noises about the use of white ambient lighting for the interior and also a focus on making the switchgear feel premium to the touch, so there should be a quality uplift inside the Qashqai. Furthermore, from what we can see in the pictures, all of the Nissan's in-car technology has been suitably sharpened up and looks classy, so we'll be keen to see if it works well in operation.

Pragmatically speaking, visibility is claimed to be improved through a wider windscreen opening angle, thinner A-pillars and the mounting of the exterior mirrors on the doors, while the longer wheelbase has bestowed an extra 28mm of kneeroom on rear-seat passengers, who now have fully 608mm of space in which to stash their legs. Headroom is increased by 15mm throughout the cabin, while the rear doors open to almost 90 degrees to allow easy ingress and egress to the second row of chairs. A hands-free powered tailgate gives access to a boot made 50 litres larger than the old model's 430-litre affair, with part of this cargo capacity increase coming down to improved packaging of the rear suspension allowing the boot floor to be lowered by 20mm. USB-A and USB-C charging ports can be found throughout the Nissan's cabin, as a final family-friendly flourish.

You said those wheels would be relevant and now you mention suspension. What is the rear set-up?

Nothing gets past you, eh? Yes, as you might have guessed, depending on the size of alloy wheel you've got and how many axles you want driven, the Qashqai follows several other cars in offering more advanced suspension for those who spend more money. So any two-wheel-drive model with anything up to 19-inch wheels gets a torsion beam at the back; for Qashqais on 20-inch wheels or fitted with all-wheel drive, a multilink set-up is employed.

So now we ought to get onto motive power and chassis tech. Nissan wants to achieve 50 per cent electrified sales across Europe by 2024 and the Qashqai Mk3 is a key driver of such an aim. This means that, at launch, the Japanese crossover has an entirely petrol-electric powertrain choice. First up is the 1.3-litre DIG-T four-cylinder turbo petrol that appeared post-2018 in the Mk2 Qashqai, but now it also has 12-volt mild-hybrid (MHEV) technology fitted to save about 4 per cent on fuel economy and CO2 emissions compared to if it were a 'plain ICE'. This 1.3 MHEV is offered with either 138hp and 240Nm, or 156hp and 260Nm. Those figures, though, are for front-wheel-drive, six-speed manual variants only; if you want an Xtronic CVT automatic 'box or four-wheel drive, you can have them with the 156hp engine alone and the peak torque with the CVT increases to 270Nm. Oh, and 4WD is only available with the Xtronic too, not with a manual transmission.

Above these is a new engine system for Nissan, which the company is marketing as 'e-Power'. This employs a 154hp 1.5-litre petrol engine with a variable compression ratio, but this never propels the wheels. Instead, through a power generator, inverter and 140kW (187hp) electric motor, it's electricity which generates forward motion. That electric motor is similar to the one you'd find in a Nissan Leaf EV and there's enough regenerative-braking effect on the Qashqai e-Power that it can be driven in a one-pedal fashion if you so choose. Peak torque here is 330Nm but the e-Power is front-wheel drive only.

Beyond this, Nissan says the CMF-C architecture means the body-in-white of the Qashqai Mk3 is 60kg lighter and 41 per cent stiffer than the old Mk2, while the company has also purportedly upgraded the power steering for more feel. Various advanced driver assist systems, including ProPilot, will be available too. We'll bring you more details on UK specs and prices, as and when we have them. Oh, and if you move fast enough on ordering, you might be able to get one of the 3,200 UK units of the Qashqai Premiere Edition, which loads in all the kit plus two-tone paint and 18-inch alloys. It's available as a 1.3-litre MHEV with either power output and a choice of gearboxes, and first deliveries of all Mk3 Qashqais (Premiere Editions or otherwise) will commence in summer.

Matt Robinson - 18 Feb 2021

2021 Nissan Qashqai Mk3 Revealed. Image by Nissan.2021 Nissan Qashqai Mk3 Revealed. Image by Nissan.2021 Nissan Qashqai Mk3 Revealed. Image by Nissan.2021 Nissan Qashqai Mk3 Revealed. Image by Nissan.2021 Nissan Qashqai Mk3 Revealed. Image by Nissan.

2021 Nissan Qashqai Mk3 Revealed. Image by Nissan.2021 Nissan Qashqai Mk3 Revealed. Image by Nissan.2021 Nissan Qashqai Mk3 Revealed. Image by Nissan.2021 Nissan Qashqai Mk3 Revealed. Image by Nissan.2021 Nissan Qashqai Mk3 Revealed. Image by Nissan.    - Nissan road tests
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