Nissan’s crossover SUV has a new name, new body and a new outlook on life. The first iteration, the Dualis, was a solid if unspectacular effort that nevertheless delivered some very impressive sales figures for the Japanese manufacturer.
The Qashqai’s body is bigger than the Dualis’ in the important directions, but the new outlook is the most important thing – during the Dualis years the market segment heated up, with multiple entrants from all corners of the globe. The Qashqai, as the Dualis is now known, has to be better in many ways.
The petrol-powered Qashqai Ti can be yours for $32,890 with the six-speed manual or $35,390 for the CVT automatic. The only option is $495 metallic paint and a further $495 for premium paint.
As the top of the range model, the Ti has a long list of standard features. The part-leather trimmed interior has dual-zone climate control, heated front seats, powered driver’s seat, keyless entry and start, cruise control, sat-nav, fake ‘leather’ steering wheel and gear selector, park assist, around view cameras, power windows and mirrors, glass roof and rear privacy glass.
The whole car’s aesthetic is miles ahead of the Dualis. The 19-inch wheels fill the arches properly and the car no longer looks top heavy and knock-kneed. The Qashqai is longer but also lower-slung, giving it a better, more balanced visual presence.
Passengers benefit not only from the longer, lower cabin but also from a bit of extra width. There’s headroom aplenty even with the glass roof. Sadly, that glass means the cabin can get a bit hot.
Inside is also a huge leap forward, with better materials and overall construction. There’s plenty of clever storage around the cabin and the fit and finish is remarkably good. Some of the materials, like the slippery fake leather on the steering wheel, could be a bit better, but the overall feel is high quality.
All Qashqais have a five-star ANCAP rating – six airbags, stability and traction control, ABS, brake force distribution and assist, load-limited front belts and pretensioners and reversing camera.
The Ti adds the around-view camera, lane departure warning, fatigue detection, moving object detection and blind spot warning.
The up-spec Ti replaces the simple and useable interface with a more complex one that adds Facebook and Google integration. The speaker count remains stuck at six, but like its lesser brethren provides perfectly good sound for the masses.
The Facebook and Google stuff is a bit fiddly to get going and requires a download of a Nissan app to get it moving. We struck trouble getting Facebook to activate but given one doesn’t want to see ugly baby photos at home, it’s probably not a great loss to not have access on the move. If you’ve got an Android phone, you can also hook up Pandora for your music. Nissan still has some work to do here.
The satellite navigation is reasonably detailed and easy to use, while the screen’s seven inches makes it easy to see where you are. The resolution is a little muddy, though.
ENGINE / TRANSMISSION
Propulsion duties fall to Nissan’s MR20 2.0-litre petrol. There isn’t a turbo in sight, but variable valve timing and direct injection brings the kilowatt count to 106 (ten more than the diesel) and the torque to 200Nm (120 fewer than the diesel).
Were it not for the CVT, that torque figure would seem a bit anaemic for a 1600 kg car, but the rubber band is well-tuned for the Qashqai. Confusingly it occasionally behaves like a torque convertor auto with artificial steps.
Nissan claims 6.9 litres per 100km on the combined cycle – we saw 9.8 L/100km, which is significantly higher.
The diesel Qashqai we tested was blighted by a lengthy “spooling” delay which knocked a dent in our confidence in the car. The petrol isn’t similarly afflicted which made us much happier. It was much more prompt stepping off the line and more responsive from standstill.
The lack of torque compared to the diesel was most apparent in rolling acceleration, with the engine revving much harder and buzzing as the needle stuck fast in the upper rev range. The diesel would blow it away in overtaking and is more relaxed in those circumstances.
The steering is very slow in the Qashqai which masks a very competent handling feel. The front tyres bite well once you’ve got the wheel turned far enough and it has a safe feel even without all-wheel drive.
Passengers will appreciate the twin-stage dampers but on particular surfaces the rear can get a little unsettled, bobbing about a bit across high frequency transverse ridges. It’s not unduly worrying, but it happens.
SUMMING UP 3.5/5
The Qashqai really takes it to the competition rather than just playing catch-up. Mazda has good reason to be worried by Nissan’s second go. With competitive pricing, good standard gear and comparable quality, the faux off-roader is compelling.
The diesel is a better package, but if you can’t stomach the extra cost or the frothy fuel, the petrol does plenty with the outputs it has while being reasonably frugal.
It’s a far more coherent car than the Dualis and that fact alone catapults it into the must-consider list.
AT A GLANCE
ST 2.0-litre petrol five-door wagon: $25,850 (manual), $28,490 (automatic)
Ti 2.0-litre petrol five-door wagon: $32,490 (manual), $34,990 (automatic)
TS 1.6-litre turbo-diesel five-door wagon: $33,200 (automatic)
TL 1.6-litre turbo-diesel five-door wagon: $37,990 (automatic)
Note: These prices do not include government or dealer delivery charges. Contact your local Nissan dealer for drive-away prices.
ABS Brakes: Standard on all models
Automatic Transmission: Optional
Cruise Control: Standard on all models
Dual Front Airbags: Standard on all models
Front Side Airbags: Standard on all models
Electronic Stability Program: Standard on all models
Parking Sensors: Standard on Ti and TL, not offered on ST and TS
Reversing Camera: Standard on all models
USB/Auxiliary Audio Inputs: Standard on all models
Satellite Navigation: Standard on Ti and TL, not offered on ST and TS
Bluetooth: Standard on all models
Steering Wheel Mounted Controls: Standard on all models
SPECIFICATIONS (Nissan Qashqai Ti 2.0-litre petrol five-door wagon
Capacity: 1.997 litres
Configuration: Four cylinders in line
Head Design: DOHC, four valves per cylinder
Compression Ratio: 11.2:1
Bore/Stroke: 84.0 x 90.1 mm
Maximum Power: 106 kW @ 6000 rpm
Maximum Torque: 200 Nm @ 4400 rpm
Driven Wheels: All-wheel drive
Manual Transmission: Six-speed
Automatic Transmission: Continuously variable
Final Drive Ratio: 4.438
DIMENSIONS, WEIGHT AND CAPACITIES:
Length: 4377 mm
Wheelbase: 2646 mm
Width: 1806 mm
Height: 1595 mm
Turning Circle: 11.2 metres
Kerb Mass: 1372 kg
Fuel Tank Capacity: 65 litres
Towing Capacity: 1200 kg (with braked trailer)
Boot Capacity: 430 litres
SUSPENSION AND BRAKES:
Front Suspension: Independent
Rear Suspension: Multi-link with aluminium arms
Front Brakes: Ventilated disc
Rear Brakes: Solid disc
Type: Petrol 91RON
Consumption – Combined Cycle (ADR 81/02): 7.7 /100km
GREEN VEHICLE GUIDE RATINGS:
Green Vehicle Guide Greenhouse Rating: 7/10
Green Vehicle Guide Air Pollution Rating: 5/10