New 2021 Nissan Qashqai revealed with more space and hybrid tech

Published 18 February 2021

The 2021 Nissan Qashqai has more tech, more space and a choice of mild and full-hybrid petrol engines. It's expected to be priced from £25,000 when it goes on sale in the summer.

This is the 2021 Nissan Qashqai – the third generation of the world’s first crossover and a car that's sold by the millions – more than five million worldwide, to be precise.

New or not, you can tell its a Qashqai from a mile off. Upfront, you'll find the latest version of Nissan’s V-Motion grille – one that’s bigger and bolder than ever before – and its size is pronounced by the fact that it is flanked by a pair of slim LED headlights. Top-end models getting matrix versions that allow you to use your full beams in oncoming traffic.

The familiar-but-different theme continues around the sides of the new Qashqai where you get muscular body creases, 20-inch alloys (up from 19s in the old car) and the name ‘Qashqai’ stamped into the edges of the front bumper.

All _New _Nissan _Qashqai (8) 

Yet more creases feature around the back and, in case you didn’t get the message, ‘Qashqai’ is spelt out across the boot lid.

The fact that the Qashqai looks larger is not a trick of the eye, it is longer, wider and taller than the car it replaces while the wheelbase has increased by 20mm to free up more knee room in the back seat.

Which brings us nicely to the interior that has taken a noticeable step up in quality. The chunky dashboard and wide transmission tunnel make the car feel more substantial and you get a mixture of textured and metallic trim finishes. Top-of-the-line models also get Nappa leather seats with electrical adjustment and a massage function.

If anything catches your eye though, it’s the car’s upgraded infotainment. You now get a nine-inch display in the centre of the dashboard that has rich colours and responds to pinch and swipe gestures. It comes with wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto – so you can mirror the display of your smartphone on the car’s big screen.

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Wireless charging is optional and you get USB-A and USB-C charging points in the front and the back.

Along with the centre screen, you now also get a 12.3-inch digital instrument binnacle behind the steering wheel that has a variety of displays including a full-sized sat-nav map that makes following directions easy.

Or, if you want the full Top Gun experience, you can also have a 10.3-inch head-up display that project’s information – fighter-jet style – onto the Nissan’s windscreen.

Thankfully, it's roomier than Maverick's jet. Upfront, the 2021 Nissan Qashqai has acres of room for tall adults and headroom has increased by 15mm front and back. A larger windscreen, thinner pillars and wing mirrors that are now located on the doors rather than the corners of the window frames, aid visibility but also make the cabin feel brighter and airier.

 All _New _Nissan _Qashqai (9) (1)

There’s very little to complain about in the back either. The new car’s longer wheelbase translates into 28 mm of extra knee room for your passengers in the rear and doors that open 85 degrees (15 more than before) make it easy to get in. That and the car’s raised ride height mean it’ll also be easy to fit a child seat and both outer rear seats have Isofix points.

Getting a buggy in the boot will be a boon, too. Its 504-litre capacity is 10 per cent bigger than before and its flat floor and square shape make loading a pleasure. It’s also packed full of handy features, as well as shopping hooks and a 12V power socket, the boot floor has a wipe-clean side and below it you’ll find space to hide valuables from crooks.

The boot opens and closes electrically, and jiggling your foot under the rear bumper will see it rise like a phoenix automatically – handy when your hands are full.

As well as being extremely practical for its size, a cornerstone of the Qashqai experience has been to provide surprisingly cheap running costs for a car that looks like an SUV. Diesel doesn’t feature in the new car, instead, you get a choice of mild and full-blown hybrids.

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The latter is the real headline-grabber. Called the e-POWER, it is essentially an electric car that uses its 156PS 1.5-litre four-cylinder petrol engine as a generator to charge its battery, which in turn powers a 190PS electric motor that spins the front wheels. There’s no mechanical link between the engine and the wheels like there is in, say, a Toyota Prius, meaning the engine can run at its optimum speed all of the time.

Given the setup, it won't be a huge surprise to learn then that the e-POWER drives like an electric car. Its 330Nm of torque is delivered instantaneously and gives the car surging acceleration through its single gear. It can also drive up to two miles on silent electric power alone.

Ramping up the relaxation factor is Nissan’s e-Pedal. The e-Pedal engages the Qashqai’s regenerative brakes the minute you lift your foot off the throttle, it means you should only ever have to press the brake pedal for sudden stops. A theory that’s held true when we’ve sampled the same system in the Nissan Leaf. 

The other two engines also run against the grain. They’re mild-hybrids but instead of having a 48V power supply – like the Kia Sportage and numerous others – the Qashqai’s 140 and 158PS 1.3-litre four-cylinder petrol engines have a 12V system. It gives a light torque boost under acceleration and allows the stop-start to work more efficiently. The 12V power supply carries a 20kg weight penalty but improves CO2 emissions by 4g/km.

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The 156PS petrol is the only model available with a CVT automatic gearbox – which allows the car to coast on the motorway to save fuel – and it’s also the only version available with four-wheel drive. It has five modes including Offroad and Snow.

To offset the weight penalty of the mild-hybrid system, Nissan shaved a significant 60kg of weight off the body in white by giving the Qashqai a bonnet, wings and doors made out of aluminium, as well as a boot lid constructed out of composite. Despite the weight saving, the body is 41% more rigid than in the old car.

That should make it feel more assured on the road and also ride better. For the most comfortable ride possible you’ll want a car with 20-inch wheels or four-wheel drive, which means you’ll also get independent rear suspension.

Comfort also comes in the form of the latest driving aids. The new Qashqai gets ProPilot which means the car can accelerate, brake and steer itself on the motorway and – if you spec the automatic gearbox – also come to a complete stop before making off again when traffic is queuing on the motorway, say.

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ProPilot is linked to the car’s other systems so it can automatically slow for corners and observe the speed limit using the sat-nav, or steer you back into lane if you try to pull out into the path of another car detected by the blind-spot sensors. Factor in automatic emergency brakes that’ll stop you from being involved in a front-end bump – but can also jump into action if they detect an imminent collision when you’re reversing – and the net result is a car that’s very safe for you and the family. 

Comments

Engineer Andy    on 24 February 2021

Looks a lot like a Lexus/Toyota from the outside. The question is whether it'll be reliable.

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