No doubt about it, Nissan has a stellar lineup of SUVs and you could mount a case for the Qashqai being the best of the bunch. Designed, engineered and made in England, the Nissan Qashqai replaced the much-loved Dualis (well the Dualis was always called Qashqai in international markets).
Whatever the name, this is clearly a hot-selling vehicle for Nissan. In fact, since its debut in 2007, more than 2.0-million have been sold.
Significantly, while the previous Dualis was offered as a seven-seater, for the all-new model, Nissan has elected to shift its seven-seat focus to the X-TRAIL, making the Qashqai exclusively a five-seater. Officially the Nissan Qashqai is listed a ‘small’ SUV but we’re disputing that classification – either that or the Qashqai is certainly one of the largest small SUVs.
Make no mistake the Nissan Qashqai is a family-friendly SUV with space for five and handy cargo space. Family-friendly safety too with the Nissan Qashqai scoring the maximum five-star safety ranking from ANCAP. There’s dual front, dual side and dual curtain SRS airbags which extend to the second row seats.
Nissan Qashqai Overview
We were impressed when we drove the Nissan Qashqai at the national media launch but of course proof was needed in the form of an extended ‘ownership’ and our normal test routine. So over two weeks www.carshowroom.com.au tested the entry-grade Nissan Qashqai ST petrol manual ($25,850) and the range-topping TL model diesel fitted with the CVT automatic transmission ($37,990).
Our ST petrol Nissan Qashqai boasted impressive inclusions such as 17-inch alloy wheels, LED DRLs, roof spoiler, a rear-view camera (five-inch screen), cruise control and leather-wrapped steering wheel.
The TL model Nissan Qashqai turbo-diesel added items such as fuel-saving idle stop/start, 19-inch alloy wheels, the seven-inch touch-screen with satellite navigation and the around-view monitor, leather seats, panoramic glass roof, LED headlights, roof rails, upgraded six-speaker audio and safety features including blind spot warning, lane departure warning and moving object detection.
Nissan Qashqai Engine
In Australia, Nissan sells the Qashqai exclusively as a front-wheel-drive vehicle.
Petrol power comes from Nissan’s 2.0-litre naturally-aspirated four-cylinder engine code-named MR20DD. Maximum power is 106kW and peak torque is 200Nm.
You can choose from either a six-speed manual transmission or a CVT automatic.
Nissan Qashqai diesel scored the all-new Nissan-Renault 1.6-litre four-cylinder turbo-diesel. Maximum power is 96kW and peak torque is 320Nm.
Nissan Qashqai turbo-diesel is exclusively offered with the CVT automatic transmission.
For fuel consumption you can chalk-up 6.9l/100kms for the petrol-powered Nissan Qashqai or 4.9l/100kmsfor the turbo-diesel (both figures for the CVT automatic models).
Nissan Qashqai The Interior
London-based Nissan Design Europe crafted the styling of the Nissan Qashqai. We reckon the British team has nailed the interior – the Qashqai presented a slick, dynamic look which showed its ‘design-smarts’ with plenty of space and cargo capacity.
In fact, with the 60/40 split-fold rear seat in-place the Nissan Qashqai provided 420-litres of luggage space – that’s 20-litres up on the previous Dualis model. There’s also two reversible floor panels providing up to 16 different load area configurations and the tailgate opens 230mm higher than the superseded Dualis for easier loading.
Front seats were nicely supportive (cloth trim for ST, leather for the TL) and the driving position was excellent thanks to plenty of seat adjustment and rake/reach adjustment for the steering wheel. Our ST model Nissan Qashqai ran a five-inch display screen while the TL stepped-up to seven-inch touch-screen which included the satellite navigation.
The Car Showroom juniors enjoyed the extra space in the rear seat but the seat itself could do with extra lateral support.
Nissan Qashqai Exterior & Styling
Nissan Qashqai reflects the new Nissan styling trends (shared with the X-TRAIL) – noticeable with the ‘V-Motion’ grille and signature rear three-quarter curves. Nissan’s design boss Shiro Nakamura says ‘Athletic Agility’ was the design theme.
Qashqai is exactly 47mm longer than the previous Dualis and we certainly liked the powerful front-end with contemporary ‘wrap-around’ headlights.
Side profile highlighted the raising glasshouse and character creases which give the Qashqai a chic look which not so long ago was not a Nissan strong point.
The rear too scored a powerful, dynamic look which is certainly appealing.
Nissan Qashqai On The Road
The Qashqai rides on the new CMF-C/D Renault-Nissan modular platform which it shares with the new X-TRAIL. As you’d expect from Nissan’s latest development it bristles with technology including clever double piston shock absorbers (a conventional channel handles low-frequency rough road bumps and the other handles the high-frequency bumps from smooth roads) and Active Trace Control, Active Ride Control and Active Engine Brake to enhance dynamics in the twisty stuff.
And there’s also a new electronic power steering system.
We rank Nissan’s Xtronic at the front of the field for continuously variable transmissions (CVT). Combining the advantages of CVTs with normal step changes under hard acceleration, the Xtronic is a CVT we could actually live with on a daily basis.
That said, the six-speed manual seemed ideally suited to the 2.0-litre petrol engine in our ST model Nissan Qashqai. With none of the throttle ‘flaring’ which is common today (a consequence of tuning for optimized fuel consumption) and nice ratios, the ST Nissan Qashqai was a handy tool over our high-speed mountain roads test loop.
But at the end of two weeks it was the turbo-diesel TL model Qashqai which ‘got the chocolates’ from the www.carshworoom.com.au team. The abundant 320Nm of torque combined with that slick chassis delivered a driving experience which stretched beyond the $37,990 price sticker (we can think of pricey European SUVs which aren’t this good).
As you’d expect from a car designed and engineered for European customers, the Nissan Qashqai exhibited little body roll when cornering hard, responded nicely to steering and throttle inputs and delivered high levels of grip.
Nissan Qashqai Issues
Those top-notch driving dynamics got us thinking about engines. How about the 140kW/240Nm turbocharged 1.6-litre petrol engine from the Juke? Go-on Nissan the Qashqai is good enough to handle the extra grunt.
Likewise some pace around the corners highlighted the flat rear seat’s lack of lateral support.
Nissan Qashqai Verdict
All things considered we’re making the Nissan Qashqai a Car Showroom Favourite. In a segment flush with competent vehicles, there’s no denying the good looks, build quality, driving dynamics and smart packaging of the British Nissan.
And value-for-money is a Nissan Qashqai standout.
Petrol or diesel is a tough choice. Good as the 2.0-litre petrol is, we’re leaning slightly in favour of the 1.6-litre turbo-diesel for its highway refinement and handy 320Nm of torque.
Nissan Qashqai The Competition
Hyundai’s ix35 isn’t the newest design in this league but make no mistake the compact Korean is excellent, offers petrol or turbo-diesel powerplants and, starting from $26,990 won’t break the bank.
We’re very keen on the Subaru XV. You’ll need a bit more coin (starting at $28,490) and there’s no diesel but of course all models are all-wheel-drive. Nicely styled inside and out, the Subaru XV only misses-out on the Nissan Qashqai’s luggage capacity.
A little pricier, Volkswagen’s hot-selling Tiguan is a class act. The handsome German starts from $28,990, provides turbocharged petrol or diesel engines and oozes Volkswagen’s hallmark quality. Also probably not quite a match for the Nissan Qashqai in the cargo capacity department.