First Drive: Nissan adds some extra sparkle to top-selling Qashqai

Nissan’s Qashqai has long been popular in the UK, and now the Japanese carmaker has added a raft of new features. James Batchelor tries them out.

The Qashqai is a modern-day motoring success story
Nissan Qashqai The Qashqai is a modern-day motoring success story

What is it?

Nissan has given the Qashqai a radical new look
Nissan has given the Qashqai a radical new look

Sales figures don’t lie. Love it or loathe it, the family crossover that arguably spawned all others is a favourite among we Brits, with the car clocking up 750,000 sales since it appeared in 2007. The current generation of the Qashqai rubber-stamped its position as a firm favourite by becoming the UK’s best-seller in 2022, and in so doing it was also the first British-built car to have taken the top spot in the UK sales charts since 1998.

With such success under its belt, Nissan could have ignored new rivals that have arrived since, but the Japanese carmaker has given its strong seller a raft of updates for 2024 to keep it punching high.

What’s new?

Bright LEDs are a neat touch
Bright LEDs are a neat touch

Inevitably, there’s some new technology fitted, but we’ll come back to that as it’s the looks that are the most different. As styling facelifts go, this one is probably as dramatic as they get as there’s no comparison between the old Qashqai and the new 2024 version.

There’s a whole new front end with a huge grille pattern that Nissan says was inspired by ‘ancient Japanese armour’, glitzy new headlights and day-running lights, new rear lights, and a new sportier trim level called N-Design. The interior is largely the same as before but gets an injection of Google technology.

What’s under the bonnet?

Nissan’s e-Power technology aims to boost efficiency
Nissan’s e-Power technology aims to boost efficiency

This is where the updates come to an abrupt halt as the previous Qashqai’s engine line-up is carried over. So, there’s the 1.3-litre mild-hybrid petrol in 138bhp and 156bhp flavours, and Nissan’s unusual 187bhp e-Power range-extender. The latter uses a 1.5-litre three-cylinder engine that only ever powers the lithium-ion battery, which in turn sends its juice to the electric motor that drives the front wheels.

Nissan claims the e-Power to be the most frugal at 54mpg, but this drive and previous tests with the outgoing Qashqai show that figure to be a little difficult to achieve, with mid-30s being a more realistic prospect. A full (or ‘self-charging’) hybrid like the Toyota C-HR can easily return around 60mpg with little effort.

What’s it like to drive?

The Qashqai corners neatly
The Qashqai corners neatly (guillem hernandez)

The Nissan Qashqai has always prioritised an easy driving experience over a thrill-a-minute one, and this latest model continues that. Like with the engines, Nissan hasn’t been fiddling in the ride and handling department, so the Qashqai remains a safe and predictable car to drive. Higher trim levels get 19- and 20-inch wheels which would normally ruin comfort levels, but Nissan fits a more advanced rear suspension set-up on models with larger wheels. Our N-Design had the 20-inch alloys fitted, and while there was some firmness when driving over speed bumps and potholes, on the whole, the Qashqai rides well. Little body roll and the feeling of plenty of grip only add to the sensation that the Qashqai is a refined car to drive.

For the most part, the e-Power system gives an EV-like driving experience, with smooth power delivery and more than decent acceleration. But when the three-cylinder engine fires up to replenish the battery, it drives and sounds like any normal hybrid but without the fuel efficiency benefits. The strong regenerative brakes are excellent, though, particularly the ‘e-pedal’, which whacks up the regen to give one-pedal driving.

How does it look?

The Qashqai features a ‘floating’ roof design
The Qashqai features a ‘floating’ roof design

The outgoing Qashqai had an evolutionary design over its predecessor, and very much looked exactly how you’d expect a Qashqai to look. Nissan has really let its creativity flow with this model, though, as it looks more flamboyant, particularly in the new N-Design trim level.

This specification features body-coloured trim around the wheel arches and lower sections of the doors, giving the Qashqai a particularly upmarket look. The new rear lights use OLED technology that gives a really bright and crisp look, and scrolling indicators complete the premium feel.

What’s it like inside

The cabin of the Qashqai has loads of features to explore
The cabin of the Qashqai has loads of features to explore

Higher spec cars get a number of new materials to make the interior feel posher than it ever has done, and with the N-Design, for example, that means swathes of Alcantara across the dashboard, doors and the centre console. It certainly lifts the interior and gives an extra level of luxury to what already was a quality feeling cabin, even if there are question marks as to how suitable Alcantara is for family life.

All trim levels get a 12.3-inch touchscreen, which now features a Google infotainment system built in – this is a very welcome addition and is both easy and enjoyable to use. Other tech changes include 3D functionality for the 360-degree ‘Around View Monitor’, and ‘Invisible Hood’ which, like on a Land Rover, gives a view of what the front wheels are doing, and in theory means hitting kerbs is a thing of the past.

What’s the spec like?

The digital dials have lots of features and information
The digital dials have lots of features and information

Nissan has quietly deleted the old car’s entry-level Visia trim, meaning the Qashqai’s starting price has been bumped by £400. The new entry-level trim, Acena Premium, from £30,135, gets the 12.3-inch touchscreen but does without the Google built-in features, which is a shame, and with its small 17-inch wheels and slightly more muted grille design, doesn’t show off the new Qashqai’s design updates too well. The £2,170 jump to N-Connecta is probably worth it thanks to the Google functionality, fancier grille design, 18-inch diamond-cut wheels and the 3D Around View Monitor.

The N-Design trim, as pictured, comes in at £34,895, and while it’s pegged at the same price as Tekna, it forgoes that car’s more advanced ProPilot driver assistance tech for a sportier exterior look that includes body-coloured trim and 20-inch wheels. Tekna+, from £38,875, adds features like quilted leather seats and a Bose sound system but is a little too pricey in our mind.


Nissan has tried hard to add some premium, big-car touches to the Qashqai to ensure the British-built crossover continues to sit high in the sales charts. It would be easy to dismiss the updates as merely cosmetic as they have added some extra appeal – particularly when it comes to the new technology features, which are decidedly better than before.

While prices have risen slightly, there’s little to suggest that the Qashqai won’t remain a British favourite.

  • Model as tested: Nissan Qashqai N-Design e-Power
  • Price as tested: £39,620
  • Engine: 1.5-litre three-cylinder petrol, plus electric motor
  • Power: 187bhp
  • Torque: 330Nm
  • 0-60mph: 7.7 seconds
  • Top speed: 105mph
  • MPG: 54.3mpg
  • CO2 emissions: 117g/km