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First drive: Nissan Qashqai e-Power 2024MY. Image by Nissan.

First drive: Nissan Qashqai e-Power 2024MY
Nissan doesnít do much to the Qashqai as part of its midlife facelift, but then the way this thing sells, it doesnít need to, either.

   



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Nissan Qashqai e-Power N-Design

3.5 3.5 3.5 3.5 3.5

If you don't know what the Nissan Qashqai is by now, you must have been living under a rock. Or on Ganymede. Anyway, across three generations and nearly 20 years on sale, Nissan has sold more than three million of the things across Europe alone, while in 2022 this third-generation model was the UK's top-selling car of them all, following it up with a noble second place on these shores in 2023 (and it's currently sitting in third for 2024, as well). So, with more than 350,000 Mk3 Qashqais already having found homes across the continent thus far, Nissan has decided to adopt a lightly-lightly approach with the airbrush for the midlife facelift - but has it done enough to keep the Qashqai at the top of its game?

Test Car Specifications

Model: 2024 Nissan Qashqai e-Power N-Design
Price: Qashqai 2024MY range from £30,135, N-Design from £34,845
Motor: 140kW electric motor plus 1.5-litre three-cylinder petrol engine (range extender)
Battery: 1.8kWh lithium-ion
Transmission: single-speed reduction-gear automatic, front-wheel drive
Power: 190hp
Torque: 330Nm
Emissions: 117-120g/km
Economy: 53.3-55.4mpg
0-62mph: 7.9 seconds
Top speed: 105mph
Boot space: 504-1,440 litres

Styling

The most obvious bit of the Qashqai facelift is, well, the facelift. As in, the front-end design is the single most significantly altered bit of this midsized family crossover. Gone is the old grille arrangement, which was centred around a U-shaped chrome motif, and instead there's now a whoppingly wide radiator/engine-cooling aperture that has 'comma'-shaped lobes all over it, which are said to be inspired by ancient Japanese armour. Make of that what you will, but it's hard to reconcile the mental image of a samurai with the Nissan Qashqai. Anyway, a wider grille equals redesigned LED light clusters and front bumper, and the overall effect is quite eye-catching; the big-selling Nissan is certainly no shrinking violet and has plenty of presence.

Elsewhere, it's a less dramatic set of aesthetic touches, primarily relating to fresh designs of 18-, 19- and 20-inch alloy wheels, as well as a redesigned rear bumper and new light clusters at the back. These glow 'super red' when they're illuminated, but when they're not they have a monochrome, transparent-lensed appearance that might, once upon a time, have been colloquially (and not always entirely kindly) referred to as a set of 'Lexus clears'.

Anyway, what with its two-tone roof options, clean, proportional lines and that dominant new grille arrangement, we're inclined to say the facelifted Qashqai MK3 is a very good-looking thing, especially in striking Fuji Sunset Red with a black top. It also helps that the car you're looking at in the pictures is in N-Design specification, an all-new trim level that has body-coloured lower portions and wheel-arch surrounds, as well as a natty set of 20s bolted into said arches. It costs the same money as a Tekna (see Value below) and provides a welcome, sportier-looking model in the revised Qashqai line-up.

Interior

Precious little has been altered in here, with the main changes being that higher-grade cars get a dashboard and door cards swaddled in Alcantara trim, while all models have Google built-in added to their 12.3-inch touchscreen infotainment. This not only immensely improves the quality of the navigation mapping, but it brings a greater level of connectivity to a family crossover which already has other high-tech gadgetry at its disposal, such as a 12.3-inch instrument cluster and one of the biggest head-up displays in the business, at 10.8 inches.

Visually and material-quality-wise, the Qashqai's cabin is therefore a hit. It retains lots of sensible ergonomics, like a separate panel for the climate control and various audio shortcut buttons underneath the main display, and generally there are few areas that you can touch and prod which feel substandard. The driving position is good and high too, with great visibility out and supportive front seats to call upon, so the interior of the Nissan is off to a good start.

Practicality

The positive impressions the Qashqai's cabin first gives off are not let down in the practicality stakes. Space onboard is ample, with even taller adults likely to be able to get comfortable in the second row of seats, while a 504-litre boot with a flat loading lip and adjustable floor panels makes for an excellent cargo bay, even if it's not the largest in this class on pure volumetric terms. And with a good array of storage spaces and cubbies dotted around, as well as pleasing technophile touches such as a wireless smartphone charging pad and the inclusion of two USB-C sockets in the rear, the Nissan is more than adequately geared-up to take on the stresses and strains of family life.

Performance

The same two drivetrains as seen previously in the third-gen Qashqai family are carried over without any mechanical changes whatsoever for the facelifted line-up, so that means there's a 1.3-litre mild-hybrid petrol with either 140- or 160hp, and the choice of front- or four-wheel drive, and then the return of the unusual e-Power hybrid.

We say unusual because we're never sure whether to just call this a hybrid, or a range-extended electric vehicle (EV), mainly because of the strange way its powertrain is set up. Nissan, for the record, wants you to think of the Qashqai e-Power as an EV without all the drawbacks of an EV, such as having to plug it in to charge. But if you're going into this experience expecting the crossover to be running in near-silent electric mode more often than not, you'll have to think again.

The 1.5 is an almost constant companion to your endeavours once you are out of town and while it is never an unpleasant noise that it makes, given it's a charismatic little three-cylinder donkey doing all the work, it does become quite vocal when you ask the Qashqai for meaningful acceleration. Do so, and while the performance is more than acceptable - in fact, the e-Power is deceptively quick as it delivers its decent acceleration in one linear hit - you do get an almost CVT-esque roaring from the 1.5 as it holds high revs for long periods at a time. This is odd, because the e-Power doesn't have a CVT, it has a single-speed reduction gear like an EV. But it can feel like a CVT to drive at times, and we don't mean that in an entirely beneficial fashion.

However, what the 1.5 is doing is recharging the battery pack; it is never directly turning the wheels, as that duty is solely handled by the 140kW (190hp) electric motor. Instead, the petrol engine acts as a generator for the piffling 1.8kWh lithium-ion battery pack, which is very, very hybrid-like in its capacity. And it is this modest usable energy rating which sees the 1.5 in action so often once you've breached the threshold of 30mph.

Sure, around city streets, the Qashqai e-Power is a charming companion and, like we say, we're not criticising either the amount of performance the drivetrain offers up nor its refinement levels, both of which are fine for this class of vehicle. But trying to claim this is an EV-like driving experience is a bit disingenuous. It's not strictly like a hybrid, either, though, so we can see why Nissan might be confused itself.

As to economy, the Japanese manufacturer claims around 53-55mpg for the e-Power Qashqai, but without driving it that hard and on a route mainly made up of motorway work with some mountainous twisties thrown in, the car was showing an indicated 39.8mpg, which isn't quite as impressive. At least the relatively low official CO2 figures will help with taxation on the Qashqai.

Ride & Handling

Like the drivetrain, the chassis of the Qashqai has been left alone for this round of updates. So what you have here is a car which clears the bare minimum dynamic standards it requires, and no more; it's like a high-jumper or pole-vaulter only just getting over a low bar in the early stages of a competition, without expending any extraneous energy to exert themselves needlessly.

Of course, we're not sure what the Qashqai is holding back for, because it's not an athlete with finite reserves of energy, but a car. In truth, the way it has been calibrated is absolutely spot on for the target audience. It rides civilly, it keeps the passenger compartment admirably hushed for the vast majority of the time, and it has safe, unexciting handling that's adept enough, sure, yet it will never put a smile on anyone's face, never mind the keener driver who'll be lamenting the light, inert steering, the excessive sensation of body roll and tyres which start screeching in protest the nanosecond you're even remotely adventurous with your corner-entry speed.

Naturally, family SUVs do not need to handle like hot hatchbacks so criticising the Qashqai for how it goes around corners could be seen as an exercise in futility. But we'd counter with two points: one, there are plenty of SUVs, and not even performance-dedicated variants, which drive with a bit more sparkle and enjoyment than this, a good example being one of the few cars which is outselling the Qashqai at the moment, Ford's (admittedly smaller) Puma; and two, the whole reason the Qashqai ever came about in the first place in 2006 is that it was supposed to be offering car-like running costs and a car-like driving experience, all wrapped up in the body of an SUV or 4x4 - but this e-Power is emphatically not car-like to drive when you're on the right roads and there's nobody else in the vehicle.

Still, the vast, vast majority of Qashqai buyers/owners will not care one jot, and will instead point out how comfortable and quiet and assured the Nissan is when all you're doing is pootling about in it on country roads, or you're navigating the cut-and-thrust traffic of congested city streets. And it's hard to argue with that, because humdrum, everyday driving feels like precisely what the Qashqai has been set up to excel at.

Value

Four specifications, running Acenta Premium, N-Connecta, Tekna and Tekna+, are held over for the Qashqai and equipment levels are generous on all of them, in particular for advanced driver assist safety (ADAS) kit, most of which is fitted as standard to every vehicle from N-Connecta upwards (and even the Acenta Premium gets a notably sizeable list of gear in this regard). Prices start at a smidge beyond 30 grand for the Acenta as a mild-hybrid, although the grandest Tekna+ specification starts at much closer to £40,000 (£38,875, to be exact). The new equipment level, N-Design, is priced at exactly the same £34,845 starting point as a Tekna, and we think it has much more visual appeal as a result of its greater body-coloured aesthetic content and huge set of 20-inch wheels.

Verdict

No alarms and no surprises, as a certain Thom Yorke once sang, would be a good way of summing up the revised Nissan Qashqai. It is what it is: a thoroughly capable, stylish, spacious, tech-laden family crossover with generally genial manners and an inherent ease-of-use that will guarantee its continued ubiquity. Sure, it looks a bit sharper as this updated Mk3 model, but there is precious little excitement to be found in anything else the Qashqai does. That, however, will be no impediment to its sales success and for Nissan, that will be of far more comfort than a series of lukewarm critical appraisals of this facelifted car. Expect to see thousands upon thousands of these things on roads near you in the very near future, then.



Matt Robinson - 10 Jun 2024



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2024 Nissan Qashqai. Image by Nissan.2024 Nissan Qashqai. Image by Nissan.2024 Nissan Qashqai. Image by Nissan.2024 Nissan Qashqai. Image by Nissan.2024 Nissan Qashqai. Image by Nissan.

2024 Nissan Qashqai. Image by Nissan.2024 Nissan Qashqai. Image by Nissan.2024 Nissan Qashqai. Image by Nissan.2024 Nissan Qashqai. Image by Nissan.2024 Nissan Qashqai. Image by Nissan.








 

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