The Nissan Qashqai has led something of a double life since its birth a decade ago when it first came Down Under as the Nissan Dualis. Since then, as well as shedding diesel power and two seats, the Japanese crossover has played the name game, reverting to its original global moniker.
Now, says Nissan, at the bidding of buyers, the Qashqai has been upgraded and the range simplified. Included are grades from the entry-level ST to mid-range ST-L and top-end Ti.
However, because of manufacturing issues at the Nissan plant in north-east England, the Ti has been held back until later this year, being replaced by a special edition N-TEC.
Entry to the new Qashqai comes via the ST six-speed manual, priced at $26,490, plus on road costs. A continuously variable automatic adds $2500 to the price.
The Qashqai ST-L comes with CVT only for $32,990, while the N-TEC CVT can be had for $36,490. The Ti CVT, we are told, will hit the market at $37,990 in the middle of the year. On test was a Qashqai ST-L CVT at $32,990.
A facelift includes the latest version of the Nissan V-motion grille, framing the new company badge. The latter is now a completely flat hologram style, which incorporates part of the car’s Intelligent Emergency Braking system, allowing radar waves to pass through it.
The radiator grille chrome surround houses the front camera taking in part of the picture for the Intelligent Around View monitor, Nissan’s 360-degree parking system, standard on the ST-L.
Flanking the grille are new halogen headlamps, with daytime running lights consisting of nine LEDs (previously six) and a thicker lens, adding a more modern, premium look. Full LEDs carry a new boomerang DRL design, extending right across the top of the lamp.
The bonnet has been reshaped with a straight-line leading edge rather than a curve. New sharp bonnet creases are the tightest created at a Nissan Europe manufacturing plant.
Out the back, there are now two distinct bumpers depending on the model. The Qashqai’s profile has gained 17 mm in length and is notable for a new aerodynamic wheel design.
Quality materials have given a more tactile feel and the contrasting stitching on the centre armrest hints at luxury.
There’s a flat-bottom steering wheel, making it easier for the driver to get in or out. The smaller hub and three-spoke design have increased the upper segment by 17 per cent, offering the driver a better view of instrument dials.
All four doors now have electric windows, which can be opened and shut all at once via the ignition key fob to quickly cool the cabin in hot weather.
The front seats have been redesigned on ST-L, giving additional support and more space between driver and passenger. Seat backs are thinner, giving more legroom in the rear.
DAB+ digital radio is now standard on ST-L grade, with a shark-fin antenna producing better reception and a modern look.
The 7-inch touch screen presents satellite navigation clearly and in an app-like format, while hands-free phone operation is improved by use of a microphone integrated into the overhead lamp unit.
ENGINES / TRANSMISSIONS
The Qashqai makes use of a 2.0-litre naturally-aspirated four-cylinder petrol engine producing 106 kW of power at 6000 rpm and 200 Nm of torque at a rather high 4400 rpm.
The entry-level ST features a six-speed manual transmission, the other variants a Nissan Xtronic CVT.
The new Qashqai takes advantage of Nissan’s Intelligent Mobility technology, which includes Intelligent Emergency Braking with Forward Collision Warning. New are Lane Departure Warning and Hill Start Assist.
Intelligent Around View is part of the ST-L, N-TEC and Ti package, while the latter pair add Intelligent Park Assist, Intelligent Driver Alert, Blind Spot Warning and High Beam Assist.
N-TEC and Ti add Rear Cross Traffic Alert, plus Adaptive Front Lighting, but we have to wait for the arrival of the Ti later this year for Intelligent Cruise Control and Lane Intervention.
The cabin takes five adults in relative comfort, clever storage facilities are a feature, while a versatile load space of 430 litres can be extended to 1598 litres with the rear 60:40 rear seat backs folded.
The Qashqai is surprisingly nippy, the engine and the CVT combining to produce a smooth journey through the rev range. It sacrifices some efficiency by stepping through changes under hard acceleration – doing so to please drivers who won’t adapt to the feel of a CVT.
Xtronic uses Intelligent Engine Braking to assist the brakes and deliver smooth deceleration.
Ride and handling are not so precise, with the suspension picking up even minor blemishes in the road surface, the front-wheel drive struggling to find grip on the gravel roads travelled.
This is despite Intelligent Ride Control, which is said to apply subtle braking to individual wheels and enhance torque after hitting a bump to smooth out the ride.
There is also Intelligent Trace Control designed to improve cornering by applying specific brake force to each wheel individually to correct the course of the car.
Advanced Driver Assist offers two modes: Sport for a harder response with more feedback and Normal for easier going with less feel.
Fuel consumption on test was recorded at 6.8 litres per 100 kilometres on the motorway and between 10 and 12 litres per 100 in city and suburbs.
Improved noise insulation and better sealing around the front doors are said to have reduced road and wind noise in the cabin, while a drag co-efficient of Cd 0.32 is an improvement (Cd 0.33) on the outgoing model.
We have always had a soft spot for the Dualis, which characterised the crossover vehicle, blending the practicality of an SUV with good styling. The upgraded Qashqai does little to dim this view.
AT A GLANCE
Nissan Qashqai ST manual $26,490
Nissan Qashqai ST CVT $28,990
Nissan Qashqai ST-L CVT $32,990
Nissan Qashqai N-TEC CVT $36,490
Nissan Qashqai Ti CVT $37,990
Note: These prices do not include government or dealer delivery charges. Contact your local Nissan dealer for drive-away prices.
SPECIFICATIONS (Nissan Qashqai 2-litre petrol Crossover)
Capacity: 1.997 litres
Configuration: Four cylinders in line
Maximum Power: 106 kW @ 6000 rpm
Maximum Torque: 200 Nm @ 4400 rpm
Fuel Type: Petrol 91 RON
Combined Fuel Cycle (ADR 81/02): 6.9 L/100km
CO2 Emissions: 159 g/km
DRIVELINE: Xtronic continuously variable transmission
DIMENSIONS, WEIGHT AND CAPACITIES:
Length: 4377 mm
Wheelbase: 2646 mm
Width: 1806 mm
Height: 1595 mm
Turning Circle: 11.17 metres
Tare weight: 1408 kg
Fuel Tank Capacity: 65 litres
Front: Ventilated disc
Rear: Solid disc
Three years / 100,000 km