Nissan Qashqai – The wait is over

Ian Lamming takes the wheel of the brand new Nissan Qashqai.

We have been teased for months but Nissan has finally managed to deliver the third generation Qashqai to dealers and it’s been well worth the wait.

How do I know? Well, I’m invited to drive a Tekna+ that’s how but things don’t get off to the best of starts. It’s a chewy drive over involving inputting a wrong postcode (my fault) that takes me to a different town and I have to fight with tractors, tourists and learner drivers that slow my journey even further. Then, as soon as arrive, yep, it starts to pour with rain.

Add all that together and you have a road tester climbing behind the wheel of Nissan’s ubiquitous SUV who is positively grumpy and not in the right frame of mind to say nice things at all.

But, there it is, all modern and new on the forecourt awaiting my perusal and it’s already winning me over.

Recognisably a Qashqai, designers have done a superb job in bringing the look up to date. The clever way they have played with the LEDs, signature running lights and grille have kept it distinctly Nissan but made it more relevant to today’s roads. The back too benefits from appealing wraparound tail lamps and the overall look is more contemporary, bigger and bolder. With 20in alloys and striking lines it could have driven straight off the concept stand of any motor show.

Climbing inside to escape the rain things improve further still. Tekna+ comes with sumptuous quilted leather seats, complete with massage function, and drawing the blind back on the panoramic glass sunroof reveals a spacious and excellent interior.

Quality seems to ooze from every pore and the tech – and there is plenty of it – is easy to use even for luddites like myself. The dash features the now traditional touchscreen and the clocks are TFT virtual affairs which you can rearrange at the press of a button.

Inside is a technological feast and a lesson in luxury. New ProPILOT with Navi-Link technology doesn’t just keep you centred in your lane at a pre-set distance from the vehicle in front, it uses built-in TomTom® maps to anticipate bends, junctions, off ramps and more, and adjusts accordingly for a smarter, more relaxing drive.

The head-up display maintains your focus on the road by providing an image projection onto the windscreen, enabling drivers to access key navigation, driver assistance and road information without taking their eyes off the horizontal.

Nothing irritates me more than a satnav that is difficult to plumb in so it’s the first thing I try. I shouldn’t have doubted Nissan who always have great controls and inputting destinations proves a breeze. It is all very easy and intuitive to use and primary controls, like those to operate the air conditioning are still proper knobs.

Once under way my mood improves yet again because new Qashqai is a delight to drive. The ride is superb and the cabin ambiance unaffected by road, wind or engine noise.

The 1.3 litre turbocharged engine is peppy, supremely refined, smooth and quiet and the clutch and gearbox on the manual are joyful. Handling, steering and grip are exemplary and Qashqai is not just good to drive it is exceptional.

What a double whammy; Nissan not only reveals the excellent new Qashqai but then tops it off by announcing the good news of the creation of thousands of new UK jobs – go Nissan. Not sure any of us were expecting that in the post-Brexit era, but then who was expecting them to invent the original concept of the ‘SUV’ back in 2007. I’m just glad they did and very pleased to become acquainted with the latest generation.

Fact File

Nissan Qashqai

Engine: 1.3 litre turbo petrol hybrid

Power: 138 or 156HP

0-62mph: TBA

Top speed: TBA

Combined miles per gallon: TBA

Transmission: six-speed manual or automatic 2WD and 4WD

CO2 g/km: 145

Price: Expected to be from around £25,000