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To ensure it keeps ahead of the competition, Nissan has given the SUV a refresh, updating its front exterior styling and interior quality, and ensuring a more refined driving experience. We took the Qashqai on the road in Vienna to test these new aspects of the car and judge if it's enough to keep the Qashqai on top.
When the cloth comes off, first impressions are good. Nissan has improved its exterior styling with a new front grille, which we think makes it appear more modern than the previous version. The latest 'V-motion' motif is on display as are headlights with a new 'boomerang' LED daytime running light signature.
Trim levels will largely be carried over from the previous iteration, but stepping inside the 1.6 diesel model we tested featuring the new, range-topping TEKNA+ trim, we were greeted with patterned nappa leather upholstery and an eight-speaker Bose sound system, plus satin-finished roof rails and a huge panoramic glass roof.
These updates are all part of Nissan's new focus on a more premium feel with the Qashqai; they have done the job just right.
Another aspect of this premium angle is more technology, including the NissanConnect infotainment system complete with sat-nav, DAB radio and a revised user interface. There's also a new 'D'-shaped multifunction steering wheel, which made it easier to get in and out of the car.
Engines and gearboxes have been carried over from the previous Nissan Qashqai, with the same choice of two diesel and two petrol engines. Our 1.6 diesel was slightly vocal but offered acceptable performance if you're willing to push it. This transmission emits 116g/km of CO2, less than the Renault Kajdar at 117g/km but more than the Seat Ateca, which offers an impressively low 114g/km.
As ever, buyers get the choice of four-wheel drive on the more powerful diesel engines, while six-speed manual gearboxes are standard across the range, with the more powerful diesel and less powerful petrol models available with the Xtronic automatic option.
We would recommend the automatic transmission as the 6-speed manual proved clunky when making lots of gear changes round the hairpin bends of Vienna's mountains.
One aspect Nissan is keen to push is the more refined handling of the Qashqai but despite changes to its steering and suspension the normal mode felt extremely light, while sport mode felt artificially heavy, meaning Nissan is running the risk of buyers looking to the Seat Ateca for quality handling. Despite this, handling is not the name of the game in this segment and the Qashqai's is fit for purpose.
One particularly notable aspect on the long drive was that the SUV remains one of the most comfortable cars in this class. Our 2WD soaked up most of the lumps and bumps at low and high speeds, and made for a smooth ride.
Adding to overall ride experience, Nissan has also included more sound insulation material inside the front doors and behind the rear wheel arches, as well as additional sealing around the front doors and a thicker rear glass. This was really noticeable while driving at speed on the motorway and a genuine improvement over the previous Qashqai.
The Crossover keeps its interior dimensions for 2017, so there are no improvements there, but then they weren't really needed as two adults get generous amounts of space in the front, while another two adults behind will enjoy good head and legroom.
The SUV offers average boot space with a capacity of only 430 litres, as in previous iterations. This compares to the Seat Ateca's larger boot space of 510 litres and the 520 litres offered by the Peugeot 3008. Despite this, the Qashqai also offers 60:40 split-folding rear seats and a useful false boot floor, which separates the loadbay into different zones.
As far as whole-life costs go, the Qashqai is more expensive than most of its direct rivals and its residual value is also lower at £10,675 compared with the Seat Ateca, which costs only £24,115 P11D and has a residual value of £10,725. CPM is also higher than competitors at 63.64 compared with the super-cheap Ateca, which boasts 48.75. It's even more than its closest rival, the Kadjar, which offers 56.32.
And with new kids on the block such as the Skoda Karoq appearing, the Qashqai will soon be facing even more competition. But with its well-rounded positives, upgraded styling, quality and excellent interior comfort, we think the SUV will keep its place near the top of the list of the UK's best-selling cars.