Nissan Qashqai (2014-2017)

By Jonathan Crouch

Models Covered

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5DR HATCH (1.2 DIG-T, 1.6 DIG-T, 1.5 DCI, 1.6 DCI)

Introduction

Back in 2014, with over two million sales of its original Qashqai Crossover model on the board, Nissan went all-out to keep this second generation version ahead of an increasingly competitive chasing pack. Hence it’s positioning as a bigger, classier, more practical, cleverer, quieter, better equipped and more efficient contender in the quickly growing family hatch-based family SUV market. British designed and built, this model makes a lot of sense as a used buy.

The History

Mention Nissan to most people and they'll think of a Japanese car maker. Nothing particularly remarkable. But ask industry experts about the company and they'll tell you a different story. Nissan is the manufacturer that made the most audacious gamble in recent automotive history - and it's one that paid off. The vehicle they went all-out on? This one right here, the Qashqai, a model that back in 2014, was rejuvenated in second generation guise.

This version had quite an act to follow, the MK1 model having been credited with nothing less than a re-invention of its brand and the creation of the new market category we now know as the Crossover segment. Back at the original launch in 2007, the Qashqai was revolutionary, at last a new option for families shopping above the small car sector and looking for a versatile and relatively affordable runabout. People who had previously been restricted to mundanity - Focus-sized family hatches, Mondeo-style medium range models or, for the more daring, compact versions of small 4x4s or MPVs. Nissan’s brilliance was in deciding to create a design that brought together elements of all these models into one sharply-styled, affordable and ever-so-desirable package. In doing so, the modern Crossover vehicle was born.

With this replacement MK2 design, Nissan was disinclined to gamble again, so instead, this second generation Qashqai took the same qualities that made the original version such a winner in the Crossover class and refined them. It sold until the Spring of 2017 when a substantially upgraded version of this second generation model was introduced. Here though, our focus is on the 2014 to 2017-era models.

What To Look For

While plenty of Qashqai owners in our survey were very happy with their cars, we also came across a surprisingly large number who’d had a whole catalogue of problems. Having reviewed these, we’ll try and give you some pointers on things you might like to look out for when inspecting used examples. Early on in this MK2 design’s life, Nissan issued a recall for the braking system; make sure that the car you’re looking at had that done. ‘Known’ problems with this model relate to problems with the climate control system (it may need re-gassing) and poorly-fitted door seals. We came across a number of problems with warning lights on the dash appearing erroneously – principally a ‘system fault warning’ and the handbrake light.

On The Road

If there’s one thing the original MK1 Qashqai model is remembered for, it’s the way that it revolutionised the dynamic responses that keen drivers could expect from a car of this kind. And in this respect, not much changed with this second generation version. In other words, if you want a Crossover model of this kind from this era, then this one remains the on-tarmac benchmark. Like all its like-minded rivals, this Nissan is aiming to offer everything people like about butch-looking SUVs in a more practical and affordable family hatch-shaped package. So you get the looks without any of the compromises you’ll not want to make if you never go off road. So kerbs can be mounted, but you’ll need to leave the Serengeti to Ranulph Fiennes, though at the top of the range, there is the option of 4WD for muddy carparks or snowy driveways.

At the wheel, it feels like a normal family hatch in which you simply sit a bit higher. Nice – but trying to persuade a car that looks and feels like an SUV to drive like a car is no easy task. After all, conventional logic suggests that the taller you make a vehicle – and this one’s about 14cm taller than a Golf or Focus-sized family hatch – the more it will roll. Still, Nissan’s British Cranfield engineers clearly don’t believe in conventional logic because this model manages to deliver its high stance and supple ride without taut, responsive handling becoming a casualty in the process. A truly class-leading hatch – say a Ford Focus - is still slightly better of course but it can’t offer this car’s wider range of attributes, which were further improved for this generation model with a number of really innovative features.

Overall

Building a Crossover vehicle is easy. Building one as good as this Nissan is a whole lot tougher. And it's a vehicle whose remit shifted ever so subtly in second generation form. The Qashqai couldn't fight tomorrow's battles looking quite so SUV. It needed to tone down, become sleeker and, yes, be a bit more like a conventional hatchback in look and feel. That’s exactly what happened with this second generation version, a car from a brand that clearly knows its market.

True, this car could certainly still be a tad sharper to drive, but its handling was much improved over the previous version and the ride and refinement are genuinely impressive, aided no-doubt by the hi-tech CMF chassis. Disappointments then are few – maybe the high-ish price of 4WD and the lack of a 7-seater option this time around. But then those are issues you’ll also find with most directly comparable rivals. Cars that, by and large, struggle to match up to this one. The Qashqai then, remains a benchmark. And a starting point for anyone buying in this segment.