2021 Nissan Qashqai revealed – sharp new looks, tech from X-Trail, new 1.3L mild hybrid, e-Power available

It’s seemingly an endless barrage of new car reveals today, and the latest to have its covers pulled off is the new Nissan Qashqai. The Euro-centric C-segment SUV enters its third generation, borrowing plenty of design cues and technologies from the slightly larger X-Trail.

Mind you, the new Qashqai itself is slightly larger than before, being 35 mm longer, 32 mm wider and 25 mm taller; its wheelbase is also 20 mm longer. Nissan says the marginal increase dimensions make for an increased presence on the road, something that will only be emphasised by the bold new looks.

Compared to its pleasantly normal-looking predecessor, the new Qashqai is all sharp lines and angles, referencing many of Nissan’s latest concept and production SUVs. At the front, you’ll find dramatic C-shaped LED headlights and a plunging V-motion grille – items that were lifted not just from the X-Trail but also the new Patrol/Armada and Pathfinder. A sharp crease leads the eye from the headlights to the corner air inlets, while U-shaped fog lights bookend the downturned centre intake.

Moving to the side, a prominent crease connects the headlights with the arrow-shaped taillights; together with the pronounced rear fender flares, it gives the Qashqai a broad-shouldered look. The glazed D-pillars add the all-important “floating roof” look, which can be highlighted with a two-tone paint finish. The car’s wide stance is bolstered by the availability of 20-inch alloy wheels for the first time.

Inside, the Qashqai the same low-profile horizontal dashboard with the X-Trail, as well as the three-spoke steering wheel, freestanding infotainment screen, sloping centre console and stubby electronic gearlever. Nissan said it has worked hard to give the car a more upscale look and feel, adding uniform white ambient lighting and buttons and switches that are more tactile and ergonomic.

Drivers also get a better view out, thanks to a wider windscreen opening, a thinner A-pillar design and the mounting of the wing mirrors on the doors instead of the A-pillar. Elsewhere, rear knee room has grown by 28 mm to 608 mm, while headroom has increased by 15 mm. The boot is also 50 litres larger (due to the lower cargo floor and redesigned suspension) and can be accessed using a new powered hands-free tailgate.

The increase in luggage space is just the start – Nissan has also retained the old car’s side storage compartments and foldable boot floor, the latter having been redesigned with a wipe-clean plastic underside. The reshaped door apertures also ease entry and egress, while the larger 90-degree opening of the doors allows parents to more easily install child safety seats.

In-car technology has also been cribbed from the X-Trail, including a nine-inch infotainment touchscreen that is larger and features a higher resolution. It incorporates wireless Apple CarPlay and wired Android Auto connectivity, a WiFi hotspot and the ability for owners to remotely control vehicular functions using the NissanConnect Services app.

Also included is Google Assistant and Amazon Alexa compatibility, door-to-door navigation, live traffic information, Google Street View and fuel price information. Front and rear passengers get access to both USB-A and USB-C charging ports.

In terms of safety, the Qashqai’s ProPilot semi-autonomous driving function has been updated with a Navi-link system that enables the car to slow for speed limits, corners and highway exits. It will also work with the blind spot monitoring to prevent a lane change if there’s another vehicle in the blind spot. There’s also a “flank protection” warning that alerts the driver if it senses a potential collision with an object the side of the vehicle at low speeds, plus a new autonomous braking function for the Moving Object Detection system.

Meanwhile, the autonomous emergency braking now uses the front radar sensor to react to cars ahead of the one in front, preemptively slowing the car down. The Qashqai is also fitted with a new centre airbag in between the front occupants and can be specified with matrix LED headlights.

The Qashqai is the first European Nissan model to be built on the Common Modular Platform (CMF-C), which also underpins the X-Trail. It uses more lightweight materials and advanced stamping and welding techniques in its construction to increase strength and reduce weight. The bonnet, front fenders and doors are made from aluminium and are 21 kg lighter, while the tailgate is made from composite and saves 2.6 kg.

All in all, the body-in-white is 41% stiffer but weighs 60 kg less than before, improving safety, refinement, ride comfort, handling response and efficiency. The suspension consists of MacPherson struts at the front and a torsion beam at the rear, with a multi-link rear setup reserved for all-wheel drive models and cars fitted with the largest 20-inch wheels. The power steering has been tweaked to deliver improved response, better on-centre feel and reduced friction.

Under the bonnet, the Qashqai retains the 1.3 litre turbocharged four-cylinder engine shared with the latest Mercedes-Benz A 200, albeit with the introduction of a 12-volt mild hybrid system. It provides some additional torque upon acceleration and can also coast to a stop from 18 km/h when paired to the Xtronic CVT. A six-speed manual is also available.

The engine has outputs of either 138 hp/240 Nm or 156 hp/260 Nm – the latter is the only option for the CVT, which boosts peak torque to 270 Nm. The CVT version is also the only one offered with an all-wheel drive option, now more intuitive, intelligent and coming with Standard, Eco, Sport, Snow and Off-Road modes.

Nissan’s novel e-Power electric powertrain also makes its way to Europe for the first time. The motor that powers the car has been upgraded from the one in the Note and Kicks, making 140 kW (187 hp) and 330 Nm. The petrol generator is also bigger, now a 1.5 litre variable-compression engine that produces 154 hp.

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