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The new Nissan Qashqai is here. But can the king of crossover SUVs keep its crown?

The Qashqai was the car that kicked off the crossover craze. But its rivals have come on a lot since then.

Image: Nissan

BACK IN 2007, the Nissan Qashqai kicked off the crossover craze and quickly became the leader of the pack. It didn’t have much in the way of competition at the time.

Fast forward ten years – the crossover market is now fiercely competitive and the Qashqai is no longer its alpha male. With this updated Qashqai, Nissan is hoping that’s about to change.

Nissan seems to have taken the ‘if it ain’t broke don’t fix it’ approach. There aren’t many major changes, just a bit of a nip and tuck to the exterior.

The front now features the latest incarnation of Nissan’s signature ‘V-motion’ grille, which is framed by restyled headlamp clusters that incorporate the company’s new ‘boomerang’ signature daytime running lights. Sharper creases in the bonnet and a more integrated front bumper round off the changes, and the back has also been tweaked.

Source: Nissan

While these are not huge changes, the Qashqai does look more modern and more sculpted. Apart from the length, which increases by 17mm, the dimensions remain the same.

Source: Nissan

Inside, the changes aren’t as apparent. The car feels a little dated, especially its infotainment system, which is better than before but hasn’t moved on enough to make it feel fresh.

The biggest difference is the addition of a new D-shaped three-spoke steering wheel which feels lovely in hand and makes it easier to see the instrument cluster.

Source: Nissan

Newly designed monoform front seats look and feel great, and thanks to the slimmer design improve knee room for rear seat passengers. However, these new seats only feature on the top two trims – SV Premium and SVE.

The quality of the materials used has improved and all four windows are now electrically operated but otherwise, it looks very similar to the old model. And whilst many Qashqai lovers might say that this is no bad thing, the new players in this segment have really upped the style stakes. I would say Nissan just hasn’t done enough here to compete.

Source: Nissan

One exciting new feature that will be coming to the Qashqai next year is ProPILOT, the first stage of Nissan’s journey to autonomous driving. ProPILOT will control the steering, acceleration and braking in a single lane on highways during traffic congestion and high-speed cruising. It is based on three technologies – Lane Keep Assist (LKA), Intelligent Cruise Control (ICC) and Traffic Jam Pilot (TJP).

Source: Nissan

Out on the road, meanwhile, there are noticeable improvements. The Qashqai is more refined than before with improved levels of sound insulation. The cabin is well cocooned from wind, road and engine noise making for a nice relaxing drive. The ride is very comfortable, although that has always been the case with the Qashqai. A few tweaks to the dampers and changes to the car’s Active Ride Control system means that it feels a little more composed with a little less body roll.

Source: Nissan

Revisions to the steering system result in more positive self-centring and added weight, and whilst some may prefer the lighter steering of the previous model, I particularly like the extra heft.

The engine line-up for Ireland is the same as before and I tested the 130hp 1.6-litre diesel mated to a CVT XTronic automatic transmission. This engine would be my pick as it has a useful 320Nm of torque at 1,750rpm and it is smoother and quieter than the 110hp 1.5-litre diesel option. However, I would choose the six-speed manual transmission as the CVT was a bit too revvy for my liking.

The Qashqai is offered with four-wheel drive, an added advantage over some of its rivals. The four-wheel drive option will be the 1.6-litre diesel with the manual gearbox.

Source: Nissan

Overall, the updated Qashqai remains as good as ever. But is that good enough? In my opinion, it doesn’t do enough to get to the front of the pack. It lags behind with its interior styling and infotainment system especially when compared to the new Peugeot 3008 and a better driving experience can be had in the SEAT Ateca.

However, there are tens of thousands Qashqai lovers in Ireland who should appreciate the changes, especially those looking to upgrade.

Prices for the updated Qashqai should be announced this week.

READ: How buying an ex-demo car could save you money >

READ: Review - The electric BMW i3 REx has a battery that just won’t quit – but it’ll cost you >

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About the author:

Melanie May  / https://www.melaniemay.com

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