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The car responsible for the crossover craze enters its third generation. But with no diesel engine and no plug, what's its appeal for fleets?
Driver monitor, blind spot alert, rear cross traffic alert, high beam assist, traffic sign recognition with legal speed adjustment, autonomous emergency braking with pedestrian and cyclist detection, lane-keeping assistance, adaptive cruise control, rear parking sensors, electronic parking brake, DAB, Bluetooth, front USB connection (Type-A), height adjustable driver's seat, 7in HD full colour TFT screen with analogue dials, automatic LED front and rear lights, air conditioning, front and rear electric windows.
Arguments about which car was the first 'crossover' (by that we mean a traditional car platform adapted to accommodate an SUV-like body) rage among car enthusiasts, although there's no doubt that the 2007 Nissan Qashqai was a defining vehicle for the current trend.
A sales success from its earliest days, Nissan has just launched the third-generation model, initially with a choice of two turbocharged 1.3-litre petrol versions, both with mild-hybrid technology, followed next year by a range-extender hybrid version.
The Qashqai has also been a sales success among fleets, too, up to now dominated by diesel versions.
As with the Juke, launched in 2020, Nissan will not be introducing a diesel version of this new Qashqai, which seems to be a calculated risk. Since WLTP, diesel CO2 emissions have been nothing to write home about, especially in larger cars attracting BIK tax payments near the top of the scale.
So, a lower price point associated with a petrol variant might well be enough to offset any lower BIK tax band that might be offered by the diesel.
Customers have a choice of 138hp or 156hp variants, with a six speed manual as the only transmission on the standard power version, with the option of automatic transmission on the higher power engine and four wheel drive can also be specified in conjunction with auto.
The similarities with its predecessor are obvious, although the Nissan branding on the grille takes up more space and the headlight design is more sophisticated. The new model is 35mm longer and 29mm wider than the car it replaces, while the wheelbase is 19mm longer.
There are five equipment grades, starting with Visia for the standard power engine, and with Acenta for the higher-power version. The range then steps up to N-Connecta and Tekna for the 138hp engine, and tops out at Tekna+ for the 156hp variant.
CO2 emissions range from 143-146g/km which is quite a narrow spread considering we're dealing with two power outputs and two transmissions, and vouches for the efficiency of the continuously variable transmission named X-tronic in Nissan parlance. Emissions for 4WD variants will be published later.
Nissan sought to improve all aspects of the Qashqai, including improving body stiffness as well as reducing weight, with the combined benefits of better behaviour on the road and increased fuel efficiency.
The steering has been made more direct compared with its predecessor, contributing to improved agility on the road, while customers choosing 20in wheels or all-wheel drive also have the benefit of a more sophisticated multi-link rear suspension set-up.
The interior of the Qashqai looks sharper than before, and there's new tech previously unavailable, including a large head-up display and wireless phone charger. The rear doors open wider than before too, making it easier to fit child seats and strap in said children.
The entry-level Visia model is well equipped for safety, but loses out cosmetically with steel wheels. But most fleet users will choose higher grades with the extra goodies they include.
The Qashqai is a much more polished performer than before, but we suspect with the lack of diesel, and the lack of an ultra-low emission variant in future, the previously equal appeal to private customers and business users has now shifted firmly in favour of it being a strong retail proposition. We'll happily correct our opinion when the sales figures start to come in, but we don't think we're wrong.
Nissan Qashqai 1.3 138hp N-Connecta
Residual value: 40.1%
Service, maintenance and repair: £2,228
Cost per mile: 44.9p
Fuel consumption: 43.5mpg
CO2 (BIK %): 144g/km (32%)
BIK 20/40% a month: £149/£299
Luggage capacity: 504 litres
Engine size/power: 1,332cc/138hp
Easy to drive
Fleets might get turned off with no diesel or PHEV