Sep 1 2009 Alistair Coull & Val Jessop
Nissan's family traveller
IT'S billed as a seven-seater, and it is, but Nissan's extended Qashqai+2 provides only 'occasional' accommodation in the third row.
As part of its name intimates, Nissan has squeezed in two extra seats in the larger Qashqai.
But they are by no means an afterthought - with an extra length of floorpan tacked on at the back. Designers have increased the Qashqai's wheelbase by 135mm so that extra room is also enjoyed by passengers in the middle row seats.
The result is a much more spacious feel to the Qashqai's cabin which benefits from extra headroom, too. It's wide girth has always made the Qashqai feel a much bigger car than its rivals and this is accentuated by stretching the wheelbase.
Other significant changes made to the +2 model include new doors and side glass, a new grille and a new tailgate. Yet the Nissan crossover doesn't lose any of its unique identity. It still retains its beefy, handsome stature with strong allusions to its sporting characteristics.
The extra metal and seats increase the Qashqai's weight quite a bit over and above the standard model, but the gutsy 2.0-litre, 147bhp turbodiesel unit in this, the two-wheel-drive version, proved more than capable for its test.
It tackled highways and meandering B-roads akin to hillside goat tracks energetically and soaked up some fairly tough terrain with barely a hint of a shudder filtering through to the cabin. Tougher rural tracks would have proved a walkover for the 4x4 version.
Throughout a 400-mile coast-to-coast trek, and a circular tour of Snowdonia, the top trim Tekna Qashqai+2 proved agile despite its hefty body mass, managing the 0-62mph dash in just under 11 seconds and reaching a top speed of 118mph.
The seven-seater oozes solid quality: everything fits neatly and tightly.
I like the beefy countenance of the Qashqai and its larger stablemate has just the same visual appeal.
The +2 isn't too cumbersome for town and generally it handles well, although it does wallow threading through bends even at low speeds. Otherwise, it felt well-composed and the cabin is a reasonably hushed place to be in, well insulated from road, engine and wind noise.
A huge panoramic glass roof comes standard on the Qashqai+2 and is the icing on the cake.
- Val Jessop
SINCE its launch in March 2007, the Nissan Qashqai crossover has taken the market by storm. With well over 250,000 sales and offering an alternative to traditional compact hatchbacks, its style, practicality and great driving dynamics has made it the fastest selling model in the history of Nissan of Europe.
It's hardly surprising then to find a seven-seat version on the heels of the original.
However, after a week with the top-spec Tekna model, I reckon only the very small or acrobatic would feel at home in the third row of seats. Sitting with your knees round your ears is not very comfortable.
The Qashqai+2 looks identical to its smaller sibling - but everything else behind the A-pillars has been changed.
Longer and taller, it has been designed to provide more space and to be even more practical.
Lengthening the wheelbase by 13.5cm gives middle row passengers an extra 23mm of knee room. The car is also 38mm higher, increasing front and middle row headroom. In five-seat format, luggage capacity is 550 litres which increases to a whopping 1,520 litres with both third and middle row seats folded.
Nissan don't claim the third row of seats is for use by adults, except occasionally. The rear door is quite wide and the middle row of seats does slide forward but even so, access is limited.
Raising the third row of seats isn't easy, at least not from the rear doors. You can't do it single-handed so you need to clamber in to complete the job. It's easier opening the tailgate and tugging on a nylon strap to pull the seat into place - but who wants to open the tailgate every time you want to use them?
Third row seat problems aside, although that is the whole raison d'etre for the car, everything else about the Qashqai+2 works well.
Two versions are available - front-wheel drive only or sure-footed All-Mode four-wheel-drive while there is a choice of 1.6 and 2.0-litre petrol and 1.5 and 2.0-litre diesel engines.
The Tekna-grade test car was front-wheel-drive, powered by the larger 147bhp turbodiesel mated to a six-speed manual gearbox.
Officially this engine will return over 42mpg in the combined cycle but over a combination of motorway and typical UK A-roads, it returned a competitive 36mpg.
The 147bhp 2.0-litre turbodiesel unit produces 236lb/ft of torque for plenty of mid-range pull which makes the engine a joy to drive in real-life conditions. The Qashqai+2 is heavier than its sibling and although it can be a bit vocal its maximum torque, available from only 2,000rpm, seems to cope with ease.
The cabin is logically laid out, and quality is top notch with soft-touch plastics and well-damped switchgear.
The only downside is the limited view out of the back which can make reverse parking trying - even with a rearview camera.
Nissan Qashqai+2 2.0 dCi Tekna
Mechanical: 147bhp, 1,995cc, 4cyl diesel engine driving front wheels via 6-speed manual gearbox
Max speed: 118mph
0-62mph: 10.9 seconds
Combined mpg: 42.2
Insurance group: 10
CO2 emissions: 177g/km
BIK rating: 21%
Warranty: 3yrs/ 60,000 miles