Nissan Qashqai 1.5 dCi Tekna: Putting up a brave face

Nissan Qashqai 1.5 dCi Tekna: Putting up a brave face

In motoring parlance, a mid-cycle model update is referred to as a facelift. Nissan’s popular Qashqai compact crossover has just undergone such a refresh – and for once, the result is more than window dressing.

Frankly, facelifts – at least those of the automotive kind – can be underwhelming.

Meant to rekindle interest in models that are halfway (or more) through their life cycle, these product updates often entail little more than some subtle cosmetic nips and tucks.

Of course, a facelift also presents an ideal opportunity to introduce less obvious, but arguably more meaningful under-the-skin changes: a mildly retuned suspension, a slightly improved insulation package, or a small power upgrade.

It’s also a good time for auto makers to add value by enhancing the standard equipment list, or to consolidate a too extended model line-up to better reflect changing market trends and buyer preference.

Nissan was one of the first auto makers to recognise the growing demand for crossovers and SUVs. Back in the early 2000s, the original Murano was way ahead of its time, while the quirky Juke proved that crossovers could be compact and characterful, too.

The Qashqai expresses a more conventional take on the crossover theme. In fact, it could be argued that it’s more SUV than crossover, although the line separating those two genres is all too easily blurred.

This second-generationQashqai was first launched in 2014, and has been one of Nissan’s most popular models, both locally and abroad. That said, it operates in a very competitive space, with the likes of the Renault Kadjar, Hyundai Tucson, Ford Kuga and Mazda CX-5 among its many rivals.

The updated Qashqai returns to that compact crossover battle with mildly invigorated looks, a smarter interior, small engineering tweaks and a revised line-up now focused on two engines and four trim levels.

The previous 1.6-litre turbo petrol and 1.6-litre turbodiesel engines have been turfed, leaving just a 1.2-litre turbo petrol, and a 1.5-litre turbodiesel. Both are new-generation, high-efficiency mills sourced from Renault.

Of the seven models, five have manual gearboxes, with the remaining two relying on a Continuously Variable Transmission or CVT – an alternative to conventional automatics or newer dual-clutch ‘boxes that’s often criticised for its slushy responses.

Under scrutiny here is the range-topping 1.5 dCi Tekna. It’s powered by that Renault/Nissan 1.5-litre turbodiesel, good for 81kW and a useful 260Nm of torque – useful especially since the torque band extends from just 1,750rpm to 2,500rpm.

Drive is to the front wheels, confirming that the Qashqai is best considered a road runner, rather than an all-terrainer, despite its raised ride height and SUV-like exterior styling.

Talking of which, the facelifted Qashqai does get fresher looks, although the overall result is subtle rather than ground-breaking.

You’ll probably see the bright, V-shaped LED daytime running lights before noticing the more prominent grille, reprofiled bonnet and revised bumper assembly. There are bolder tail lights and a redesigned rear bumper too, while the Tekna runs on new 19-inch alloy wheels wrapped in sporty, low-profile rubber.

Since we spend more time inside our vehicles than admiring their external appearance, the upgrades to the cabin are perhaps more pertinent. Most of the attention here has been on creating a more tactilely satisfying, user-friendly driving experience.

The changes range from all-new, more supportive seats and a flat-bottomed steering wheel to enhanced materials, and a more intuitive interface for the touchscreen-driven infotainment system.

The effect is certainly smarter, especially in this Tekna model, which comes equipped with almost every conceivable bell and whistle. Electric windows and mirrors, remote central locking, part-leather upholstery, a glass panoramic roof, and multifunction controls on the steering wheel are all on the list.

The infotainment system mentioned earlier includes satnav, Bluetooth for hands-free telephony, and a sound system augmented by a Bose Premium package that includes a boot-located subwoofer.

The sound may be impressive, but the sub takes the place of a spare wheel under the luggage compartment floor, which means having to make do with a sealant kit. That’s hardly a reassuring state of affairs, given the Nissan’s low-profile rubber and the condition of our roads.

Accommodation front and rear is generous, with plenty of legroom all round, while the Qashqai’s 430-litre boot should be adequate for most. There’s always the option of folding down the split rear bench seat for those intent on lugging more cargo than passengers.

I expected the Qashqai to be a little recalcitrant in performance terms, given its humble turbodiesel engine. But the combination of good torque and a well-chosen set of gear ratios makes for decent get-up-and-go.

It’s no tar burner, but the Qashqai feels eager off the mark, and the manual gearbox works a treat, allowing snappy shifts and keeping the engine in the power band. Overtaking never feels laboured, and the Nissan cruises comfortably at the legal limit and beyond.

Also counting in the turbodiesel drivetrain’s favour is its frugal fuel consumption. Nissan’s claim of 4.2 litres/100km for the combined cycle seems somewhat optimistic, but even during my predominantly town-based driving, the Qashqai’s appetite remained in the low 6 litres/100km territory.

Handling is confident, without losing sight of the need for comfort. The updated model’s suspension has been tweaked to improve stability without compromising ride quality, and the result is a vehicle that feels more composed, even on undulating surfaces.

The steering remains over-assisted, which numbs feedback but makes for easy manoeuvrability around town, while improved cabin insulation translates into lower road and wind noise on the move.

One of the more significant upgrades introduced to the Tekna model as part of the facelift is a package of active driver assistance aids. These include a blind spot warning system, intelligent emergency braking, forward collision warning and cross traffic alert.

There’s also a 360-degree camera view via a set of five cameras to help with parking. The system includes moving object detection – useful to prevent running over your pet cat in the driveway!

It’s easy to dismiss these safety systems as unnecessarily costly gimmicks, but in reality, they create an extra safety net that can prevent collisions.

The Nissan Qashqai is a good expression of the crossover vehicle genre. It’s been around for a long time, and it shows in this latest version’s efficient packaging, sprightly dynamics and overall balance.

The facelift tweaks rather than reinvents, but does result in meaningful improvements as far as appearance, ride comfort and driver appeal are concerned, while still offering the space and versatility so intrinsic to the crossover formula. DM


A good package made even better.


No spare wheel. Halogen headlights.


Nissan Qashqai 1.5 dCi Tekna


In-line four cylinder, 1,481cc, turbodiesel


81kW @ 4,000rpm


260Nm @ 1,750 – 2,5000rpm

Power-to-weight ratio

58,53 kW/ton


Six-speed manual, FWD


19-inch alloy, 225/45 R19 tyres

0-100 km/h


Top speed


Fuel tank capacity

65 litres

Fuel consumption (claimed)

4.2 litres/100km

Operating range (claimed)

1 550km

CO2 emissions

109 g/km

Retail price



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