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Is the Nissan Qashqai a 4x4? Everything You Need to Know About the Crossover SUV

The Nissan Qashqai is more of a pioneer than you might think. On sale for over a decade, the ubiquitous vehicle is something of a game-changer when it comes to European motoring. An early entry into the urban crossover range – a subset of cars that are just at home on city streets as they are country lanes – it proved to be popular from its initial release.

However, despite its popularity, there’s a bone of contention surrounding its 4x4 credentials. Along with a potted history of the car, we’ll investigate its off-road capabilities, along with a comparison of the Qashqai’s different variants and a run-down of Nissan’s other 4WD models.

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The Nissan Qashqai: A brief history lesson

Where does the Qashqai get its name?

Derived from the name of an Iranian tribe; there’s something of a link between a tribe’s nomadic lifestyle and the Qashqai’s hybrid of urban and off-road sensibilities.

When was it first unveiled?

The Qashqai was first unveiled as a concept at the Geneva Motor Show back in 2004. At the time, there was some scepticism from the motoring press, who thought that rather than representing the best of both worlds, the car would fall short of the SUV and hatchback it was combining.

Where was the Qashqai manufactured?

The car was, and still is, manufactured at NMUK in Sunderland. Today, the plant works three shifts a day just to keep up with Qashqai orders.

Went did it originally go on sale?

The Qashqai landed in showrooms in February 2007. An instant hit, Nissan sold more than 100,000 across Europe and garnered many an award, including several Car of the Year titles.

How many seats does the Qashqai have?

Suited for large families, the Qashqai comfortably seats five. The back two seats can be folded down to create extra room in its already-spacious boot, making it great for family holidays and getaways where sizable luggage is an issue.

Is there a second-generation Qashqai?

Yes. The second-gen Qashqai was unveiled in November 2013, before making its motor show debut at Geneva the following March. Longer, lower and wider, the new version is notable for its sleek, athletic exterior and range of new technology.

Is the Nissan Qashqai a 4x4?

For all the praise it received, can the Qashqai rightfully lay claim to the title of 4x4?

No matter how you look at it, the Qashqai may resemble a 4x4, but appearances can be deceiving. Most versions of the Nissan Qashqai are 2-wheel drive and are likely to struggle driving across a muddy field.

There’s no off-road option, and while the raised driving position gives you extra ground clearance, you don’t get the same off-road capabilities a traditional 4x4 gives you. In off-road or hazardous driving conditions, like snow and ice, the extra assurance of a proper 4-wheel drive system would help a great deal.

Qashqai Models Compared

To this end, Nissan does offer a 4WD version of the Qashqai in its more powerful variants. However, there’s only one choice of engine, a 1.6 dCi diesel, as it has the most torque to benefit the 4-wheel drive system.

The older generations of the Nissan Qashqai have 3 modes: 2-wheel drive, AUTO and LOCK. In 2-wheel drive, the Qashqai is essentially front-wheel-drive until a tyre slips, and when that happens the 4-wheel drive kicks in and helps out where traction has been lost.

In AUTO mode, the car is in 4-wheel drive all the time and will attempt to “vector” torque to whatever wheel slips first. In LOCK mode, all the wheels turn together and work just like a conventional 4×4 system with the Diff Locks engaged. This means the wheels all turn at the same speed, so they cannot spin on their own. In this mode, the Nissan Qashqai copes well with tricky surfaces and hazardous driving conditions.

If you drive over the speed limit for the system or you use too much steering lock, then the LOCK mode returns to AUTO without you having to do a thing. The Qashqai’s selectable driving modes make it easy to swap between 2-wheel drive and AUTO at any speed.

The latest generation of the Nissan Qashqai, which you can find at Brindley Nissan, also comes with 4×4 and front-wheel-drive versions, which has gone down well with all the Qashqai fans out there. The 1.6-litre diesel is the best engine that people have bought into, and it’s the only unit to be offered with the Qashqai’s All Mode 4×4 setup. So, if you want to take your Qashqai on some off-road adventures, it’s the one to buy. But, if you’ve no plans to leave the tarmac anytime soon, then the 2-wheel drive, 1.5dci model should do the trick for everyday driving.

What’s the Difference Between the Qashqai 1 and Qashqai 2?

In 2008, a seven-seat version of the Qashqai+2 was launched. Aimed at offering extra practicality for big families, there are more than a few differences between it and its predecessor. The sequel to the original may only differ in dimension by 21cm, but it still managed to provide room for two extra passengers. The added length between the front and rear wheels does help to improve the ride quality, but only marginally.

The added weight does little to affect the handling and performance, and even has a top speed of 119 mph on the petrol engine version – over 10 mph more than the original.  

Fuel system

Fuel economy (city and motorway)

CO2 emissions

Top speed



Ground clearance

Gross weight

Qashqai 1.6 16V 5MT

Multipoint system

35.1 mpg

162 g/km

109 mph

5-speed manual

63.8 inches

9.4 inches

1830 kg

Qashqai 2.0 16V 5MT

Multipoint system

28.7 mpg

199 g/km


6-speed manual

63.8 inches

9.4 inches

1960 kg

In 2010, Nissan introduced more petrol and diesel variants into the market, with increased options for All Wheel Drive models compared to its previous Qashqai+2 iterations. Note that All Wheel Drive is different from Four Wheel Drive. AWD uses a front, rear and centre differential to provide power to all four wheels of the car, while 4WD relies on two differentials and a transfer case to provide power to the wheels. AWD is in use at all times, while 4WD needs to be activated.

Which Other Nissan models Offer Four-Wheel Drive?

  • 2017 and 2018 Nissan Armada
  • 2017 Nissan Frontier
  • 2017 and 2018 Nissan Pathfinder
  • 2017 Nissan Titan XD
  • 2017 Nissan Titan S
  • Nissan X-Trail

Contact Brindley Nissan in Cannock, West Midlands today for more information on which Nissan Qashqai would work for you and to arrange a test drive.

Added: 10 September 2019

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