The Nissan Qashqai is one of the most popular cars in the UK, and has been for well over a decade. That success is justified, too, since the Qashqai popularised the ‘crossover’ class, when it combined SUV-like versatility and lofty driving position with family hatchback running costs.
That combination is what has made it a default family car option – even over traditional choices like the Ford Focus and VW Golf – and we rate it as one of our favourite used family cars as a result. Most of them are front-wheel drive, and there’s a good array of petrol and diesel engines including some usefully economical models, and you can even get a ‘Qashqai+2’ with seven seats in the first-generation model.
The latest model of the Qashqai was released earlier this year which will, no doubt, push more of the 2018 models into the used market. Whether you go for the earlier model, which was around from 2007 to 2013, or whether you go for the bigger and better-finished later model, we rate both as a great used family car.
Practicality in spades
The older car is a great choice for a lower budget given the space, comfort and low running costs on offer, but a rather drab interior is less than inspiring. Still, the raised body and high roof make it great for leaning in to fumble with child seats. The boot is perfect for slinging a chunky buggy into, and even the Mk1 Qashqai is slick and easy to drive.
The later car grew in size and practicality, gets a much-improved interior finish and ride comfort and lots more equipment and uprated safety and driver aids. It simply feels much more up to date.
As a result, if you’ve settled on the Qashqai as a favoured choice for your next car but are debating the age-old used buying conundrum of ‘do I buy a low mileage older model or a higher mileage newer model?”, we’d say go newer. It really was quite a drastic improvement for the new car, so you’re getting more car for the money, if you can stretch to it.
Peek under the Nissan Qashqai hood
We’d recommend going for the diesel engines, none of which are bad. Even the 1.5, which is in both versions, feels more than punchy enough and will also deliver great economy. Bigger diesel engines including a 2.0-litre and a 1.6 are also quite common on the used market and are worth considering.
All the diesels came with six-speed manual gearboxes, or a rather slow-shifting automatic joined the range later and is worth avoiding unless you can go for the second-generation Nissan Qashqai when it was much improved.
That’s not to say that the petrols should be avoided, but they are more expensive to run in terms of tax and economy. The 1.2 petrol fitted in the later-generation Qashqai can feel a little weedy on the motorway, too, and isn’t great if you regularly tow or travel with a car full of people and luggage.
If you want the cheaper, earlier Qashqai, do try and go for a 2010 facelifted model, which got traction control as standard and a useful upgrade to equipment. Ideally, the 1.6-litre diesel that came in from 2011 is the best one to go for as emissions were lower than the 1.5 despite higher power, so tax is only £35 per year even now – much cheaper than most other Mk1 Qashqai variants.
Roaming the Nissan Qashqai interior
In terms of trims, you can’t go wrong with Acenta on either of the Nissan Qashaqai models, as it gets a good balance of equipment including parking sensors, air-con, electric windows and alloys. Tekna gets leather upholstery, sunroof and nav even on the Mk1 Qashqai, and often doesn’t cost much more than equivalent lower-spec cars so it’s well worth considering.
All Qashqai’s get two sets of Isofix fittings in the rear two seats. The seven-seat Qashqai+2 is worth considering given how much affordable it is, but the pop-up seats in the boot are rather cramped and are best for children, so do look to alternatives like a VW Touran or Ford S-Max if you routinely carry six or seven people.
Things to look out for…
The Qashqai has a slightly questionable reliability record, so do look for a well-cared-for example. Look for broken central-locking key fobs on the Mk1, as well as creaky rear suspension that indicates worn suspension bushes. The latter car can get water in its parking sensors, which causes them to beep when they shouldn’t. The DAB radio and air-con can be prone to issues, too, and they’re not always things you naturally use when you view a car so be sure to check that they work properly. If you’re having trouble finding a used one that’s up to scratch, Hyundai’s Santa Fe is a worthwhile contender as a used family SUV too.