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Try and keep awake - Nissan Qashqai review

Hooray! The second generation Nissan Qashqai has finally arrived. Quite why it has a name to intimidate my pronunciation skills, I really do not know. But what we all know is that the first generation was a complete runaway success, arguably the first car to create the 'soft roader' sector of the market. It would be silly for Nissan therefore not to keep one of their most successful cars ever breathing. I am about to blow the dust off my critical journalist cap, and get set judging this rather boring looking thing.
Urm, nice lights? Not much to say really.
First off, a blast from the past. The current model was successful because it was so bloody cheap for an SUV. For sure, the refinement was dodgy, the interior was a bit nasty and tyre roar always made itself present. Obviously, this never seemed to put off the 2 million customers Nissan saw, but they decided to fix these niggles for the new car anyway. As a result, the new car is whisper-quiet, with a smooth to the touch interior, and engines that sip fuel so impressively. Not impressively for an SUV, impressively for a car full stop. This means the new Qashqai feels amazingly grown up, up there with ze Germans.
Nissan have paid rather anal attention to detail too, those little details that can really make a difference on your day-to-day drive. Your drink bottles will now fit in the cupholders without being in the way of the gear lever thanks to a deeper hole, and you can plug your USB in your glove compartment without having to shut the lid on the wire, thanks to a new special channel. It makes life so much easier, but it hardly gets that petrolhead fizz going, does it? Let's see if we have any luck with the engines.
Er, nope. You can have a 113bhp 1.2 turbo, a 1.5dCi making 108bhp, or a 1.6dCi making 128bhp. Fun is left down to a detuned version of the 1.6 you'll find in the Juke Nismo. Bear in mind that it is very detuned though. On the plus side however, all of these engines will return at least 50mpg combined, with the 1.5 peaking at 74mpg and no road tax necessary. Good stuff, especially for a big chunky car like the Qashqai.
It does its job, but it's so yawnsville
You'd expect me to say that the slightly pacey 1.6 would be the pick of the range, but surprisingly, it's the diesels that steal the spotlight here, especially the 1.5. Careful attention has been paid to these engine by the technical boffins at Nissan, and it really shows; these engines are properly refined and hushed. A quiet diesel is something missing from the current Qashqai range. But good god, ignore the ever terrible CVT automatic slusher. It's still and slow and as frustrating as it ever was, and probably ever will be.
With this being a more grown up car in the range now, it is understandable that the suspension has been tuned entirely for comfort and not in any way at all for sport. You will struggle to have a laugh on that twisty B-road in this car, but you won't care because that ride is sublime. Amazing. The steering also isn't dreadfully light, it has (just about) got weight to it to give you a bit of confidence. Just remember you will not be cornering flat. Look at it as though the suspension is real-world good, because when did you last see someone in a Land Rover Discovery itching to do a B-road blast?
This is a car I can best sum up as sensible. It does the job, in fact it does the job better than pretty much all of its competition. However, I cannot help noticing it is a bit too conservative, a bit bland. Nothing to show off to your mates. It's water, it does the job excellently but not in a very exciting manner.

4/5 - It beats its competition with ease, but it doesn't have any magic tricks up its sleeve. The interior will also date very quickly too.

Try and keep awake - Nissan Qashqai review Try and keep awake - Nissan Qashqai review Reviewed by Jack Cooper on January 15, 2014 Rating: 5

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