Nissan Qashqai 1.6 dCi: First drive
Think of a crossover car and the Nissan Qashqai is probably the first to come to mind, as it was the car that really started this sector.
What began as a 'niche' vehicle, quickly turned into a mainstream product and with 140,000 sold in the UK alone, the Qashqai is a regular feature in the UK top ten best seller list.
So a new 1.6 dCi engine for the Qashqai range is likely to be big news for this sector. I headed to Malaga to find out more.
This state-of-the-art 1.6 dCi engine replaces the old 2.0-litre and sits between the other diesel engines available, a 104bhp 1.5-litre and a 148bhp 2.0-litre. As you might expect, in terms of power and price it sits in the middle of these established units.
More interestingly, this new engine has 128bhp, making it the most powerful of its size. However, despite the performance, the new engine emits just 129g/km of CO2 and averages 57.6mpg.
That's not all, this engine also has an exceptional 320Nm of torque, which is exactly the same as the engine it's replacing. A stop-start system will be fitted from January on the two-wheel drive version, this will see the emissions figure drop to a company car friendly 119g/km.
On top of the new engine, Nissan is now fitting a new Around View Monitor to N-Tec+ and Tekna models – which uses four cameras to give you a 360° birds-eye view of the car.
First fitted in Nissan's luxury brand Infiniti, the system is a useful addition to front and rear parking sensors, as you can see round the whole car and are able to judge how close you are to obstacles. Overall the system works well, my only reservations are that the screen is small and mounted too far down the dashboard.
Apart from this, the rest of the interior is unchanged. Interior quality isn't quite up to German rivals, but it feels solid. I liked the Qashqai's tall, commanding driving position when I drove an early press car back in 2007 and I still like it now.
So what's this new version of the Qashqai like to drive? Considering it's just a 1.6-litre, I was impressed by the torque and refinement. Nissan have worked hard on this engine's acoustics and at speed it's really hard to tell you're driving a diesel. The only giveaway is the usual diesel rumble at idle, although again it's more hushed.
The only giveaway to this engine's smaller size, is that to keep it on the boil at lower speeds, you have to resort to working your way down this Qashqai's six-speed manual gearbox.
The ride is refined considering the Qashqai's tall dimensions, but with the soft suspension it means there's some body roll in corners but plenty of grip.
With prices starting from £19,495, should you buy a 1.6 dCi version of the Qashqai? In this current trend of engine downsizing, this version of the popular crossover makes a lot of sense. The torque and refinement are strong, making this engine feel much bigger than its size would suggest. I'd expect the Qashqai to keep its place in the top ten sellers list for some time yet.