Nissan has chosen to broaden its family car line-up with a seven-seater based on the successful Qashqai. The Qashqai+2 is an extended and taller version of the car launched in the UK in 2007 - and comes with a third row of seats. But despite the extra weight Nissan was keen that the Qashqai+2 would feel no different on the road from the five-seat version. Like the standard car it's comfortable on the move and easy to drive, however it only comes with a choice of two engines - one petrol and one diesel. The third row seats aren't really intended for adults, but that's no different from many compact seven-seat people carriers.
The 2.0-litre petrol engine in the Qashqai+2 produces 140bhp and decent pulling power, but while it's decently brisk on paper (0-62mph in 10.5 seconds for the front-wheel drive version is only four tenths of a second slower than the five-seat version), the 150bhp diesel engine has a much more effortless power delivery. There's strong in-gear punch from low down, making the diesel Qashqai+2 a more relaxed companion on the road, but with plenty of poke when needed. Standard gearboxes on both engines are six-speed manuals, while automatic gearboxes are offered on the 4x4 versions of the Qashqai+2 - a CVT on the petrol with six 'artificial' gear ratios for manual gearchanges, or a conventional six-speed automatic on the diesel.
Changes were made to the suspension of the Qashqai+2 to ensure its good on-road behaviour didn't suffer as a result of the extra weight and a higher centre of gravity. As a result the Qashqai still feels pretty sharp for a family car, and while its comfortable suspension set-up allows a degree of body roll into corners, its behaviour is progressive and consitent, with excellent body control. The Qashqai+2 has a slightly longer wheelbase than the standard car which has also led to a small improvement in the ride quality. Four-wheel drive versions come with the option of remaining in two-wheel drive mode or there's an automatic 4WD setting which engages drive to the rear wheels as well as the front when necessary. Alternatively four-wheel drive mode can be locked for use on loose or slippery surfaces.
The cabin is airy and roomy while a panoramic glass roof is optional on Acenta models and standard on Tekna. Headroom is improved significantly for second row seat passengers and they also have extra leg room. However the two third-row seats are only designed for people up to about 5ft 6in (1.6 metres) high, so really only children will find there's reasonable headroom and leg room. Engine noise is muted on petrol models, although the 2.0 dCi is a little louder than you might expect for a modern diesel, but noise from the tyres and from wind around the windscreen pillars is hardly noticeable.
With all seven seats in use there is only room for a few carrier bags of shopping inside the tailgate. With the third row seats folded however, there is 450 litres of luggage space up to the base of the rear windows, or 550 litres with the middle row seats slid forward. The middle seats don't quite fold completely flat, but with all seats down the load volume totals 1520 litres - about as much as a large estate car.
The Qashqai is available in Visia, Acenta and Tekna trims. Visia is the entry-level and comes with a trip computer, Bluetooth compatibility, electric windows, manual air conditioning with a glovebox cooler, six airbags, alloy wheels and a CD stereo. Acenta models add rain-sensing wipers, automatic headlamps, cruise control, steering wheel-mounted audio controls, dual-zone automatic climate control, a four-litre storage tray under the front passenger seat, driver's seat lumbar support, leather-covered steering wheel and gearknob, front fog lights and a six-CD autochanger. A panoramic glass roof is optional on this model. Tekna models add an automatic dimming rear-view mirror, leather seats, Xenon headlamps, headlamp washers, 'intelligent key' automatic unlocking, larger alloy wheels and a panoramic glass roof. Options include satellite navigation.
Behind the wheel
The Nissan's interior is logically laid out - if a little plain - and build quality is top-notch, with soft-touch plastics and well-damped switchgear. The steering wheel adjusts for reach and height while even the entry-level Visia model gets a multifunction steering wheel as standard. The lofty driving position will suit fans of off roaders and means forward visibility is excellent while the cabin itself is easy to live with thanks to simple controls plus it’s incredibly well screwed together with a robust finish. The only real downside is a limited view out of the back, which can make reverse parking tricky.
The Qashqai+2 has been designed and engineered to offer the same crash protection as the five-seat Qashqai - this achieved the highest total points score to date when it underwent official Euro NCAP crash tests. Electronic stability control is standard on all models, six airbags are standard, there are Isofix child seat mounting points in the rear and the front head restraints react to reduce the chance of whiplash injuries in a crash.
Nissan has a well-founded reputation for reliability and durability and there have been no major problems with the Qashqai.
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