In a world where diesel rules the SUV market, it’s a surprise that Nissan expects half of all new Qashqais sold to be petrol-powered in the not-too-distant future. The current ratio is 55 per cent diesel to 45 per cent petrol in the UK, but with a quieter, faster and more efficient turbo petrol now on sale, that could all be about to change.
The new 1.6-litre DIG-T 163 joins the smaller 1.2-litre DIG-T 115 and replaces the ageing 2.0-litre petrol. With 161bhp it’s the fastest and most powerful Qashqai in the range – sprinting from 0-62mph in just over nine seconds.
It shaves seven-tenths off the old 2.0-litre’s 0-62mph time, and due to the extra 44Nm of torque, feels even quicker through the gears. Change up too quickly and you’ll find a flat spot in the rev range, and you’ll need to wait for the turbo to spool. But a marked 14mpg improvement in fuel economy and huge 54g/km drop in CO2 emissions means this car is significantly cheaper to run.
The Mazda CX-5 is still more fun to drive – with sharper steering and less body roll – but out on the open road the Qashqai is a refined motorway cruiser. Switch off the radio and there’s only a whisper from the petrol engine – thanks in part to the same noise isolation kit you’ll find on all dCi diesel models.
In terms of kit, this mid-spec n-tec packs all the goodies you’d need on a £20,000 crossover. So much so, that Nissan hopes this new trim will account for 50 per cent of all Qashqai sales.
Styling is given a boost by the 18-inch alloy wheels, chrome trim and gloss-black grille, with cruise control and a full-length panoramic roof also included.
Of course, as well as value for money, practicality remains a Qashqai strong point. There are lots of clever details, and the interior has been thoughtfully laid out. A quick chat with Nissan’s product bosses at the company’s Technical Centre in Cranfield, Beds, highlighted how important customer feedback is in developing a new car. It’s clear to see how much of this expertise has filtered down into its latest models, with low-set cupholders for better user experience.
Buyers won’t be disappointed with the DIG-T 163. While the diesel remains our pick of the range, if you value high-speed refinement, then this new petrol engine makes perfect sense. It’s refined, costs £250 less than the 113bhp dCi and will still do almost 50mpg.
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