Nissan Qashqai shows how quickly safety technologies are developing
The new generation Nissan Qashqai has received a five-star safety rating from Euro NCAP. That’s the same rating as the 2007 model, but changes in the way that Euro NCAP assesses vehicle safety mean that it’s now a lot harder to get five stars. A detailed look at Euro NCAP’s report shows how far the Qashqai has come in terms of safety in just a few years.
When the Qashqai launched in 2007 it achieved the highest ever score in an Euro NCAP assessment. At the time, I interviewed the engineers behind the development and what stood out was the attention to detail in the adult occupant protection. So how far has Nissan advanced with the 2014 version?
The most obvious changes are the driver assist technologies on board, but the protection for adults has moved forward a great deal as well. Looking at the dummy readings, nearly everything is green. Even in the severe pole impact test, the dummy readings are all green, except for the chest area. All quite impressive and the Qashqai’s child and pedestrian protection is also what you’d expect from a five-star car.
The way that Euro NCAP calculates a car’s safety rating is complex – it has to be. They’re taking readings from several dummies and crash scenarios and trying to weight the scores depending on what the crash statistics tell them is the most serious issue in real life. Read the full safety assessment here.
Starting this year, it’s becoming even more sophisticated. From 2014, part of the score for the adult occupant protection section of the assessment – the main part of the test – is determined by whether the car features some sort of Autonomous Emergency Braking (AEB) system that can prevent or mitigate crashes at city driving speeds. The Qashqai does have a system. It works at both city and highway speeds. But because it’s fitted as an option, the car lost a few points.
Euro NCAP now also assesses the whiplash protection for the rear seats, not just the front. It’s a little surprising that the Qashqai’s only got a “marginal” rating for the front seats – the company says that the seats were inspired by NASA – but the back ones have good geometry and look OK from a whiplash perspective.
In the Safety Assist section of the assessment, the Qashqai picked up points for having a Speed Assist system. It uses a camera to spot road signs so that the car knows the current speed limit. The driver can then manually set the car to observe the limit. Euro NCAP would be happier if cars were set up to follow the speed limits by default, with the driver overriding, but manufacturers don’t seem so keen on the idea.
Euro NCAP’s assessment of the Qashqai’s AEB system is worth checking out. The bottom line is that the system scored 1.7 out of a possible three points (57%). It works well.
Approaching a stationary vehicle at speeds of 30-40kmh (18-24mph), you get a good warning that you need to brake. It comes soon enough to prevent a collision, says Euro NCAP. They allow 1.2 seconds for the driver to respond. At speeds of 40-70kmh (25-43mph), the warning gives the driver enough time to mitigate the collision.
Coming up behind a slow moving vehicle, the Qashqai will brake automatically to avoid a rear-end collision, if you are doing 30-45kmh (18-28mph). At speeds of 45-70kmh (28-43mph), the car will brake but still hit the car in front. At speeds above 50kmh (31mph) you get a warning of a likely crash.
If you’re driving fairly close – the test is 12m or about three car lengths – behind another car at 10-80kmh (6-50mph) and the car in front brakes slowly, you’ll get a warning that gives you enough time to stop. If they brake hard or if you don’t hear the warning, the car will brake automatically, helping to make the crash tess serious.
If you are further back – 40m or ten car lengths behind – Euro NCAP reckons you’ll get enough warning to prevent an accident. If for some reason the driver doesn’t brake, the Qashqai’s automatic braking will still intervene to help make any accident less severe.
The Qashqai also has a Lane Departure Warning system available as an option. Euro NCAP doesn’t test the effectiveness of these systems, however, they just ask the manufacturer to declare whether it meets a good standard used in the US. The Qashqai’s does.
Given how popular the Qashqai is with families, it’s great to see how far the vehicle has come in terms of safety. The Qashqai is the market leader in this class of car and rightly so: there is lot of technology on board this affordable crossover.
- The entry-level 1.2-litre version of the Qashqai starts at £17, 595. To get the active safety systems, you need to add the optional Smart Vision Pack
- The Smart Vision Pack costs just £450 and gets you traffic sign recognition, lane departure warning, front collision avoidance, an anti dazzle rear view mirror and parking sensors
- If you buy an Accenta Premium or Tekna version, the Smart Vision Pack is then standard. These start at £20,995
- Thinking of buying a previous generation Nissan Qashqai? The newer one is much better, but you can check out the 2007 results here.