NISSAN Qashqai TiPut it on your test drive list
Nissan has released a major model update to their Qashqai, which features a new turbo-petrol engine with more power and torque, whilst achieving improved levels of economy. A fresh new interior design provides additional levels of driver tech, occupant safety and connectivity in a well-rounded package that’s practical, good looking and pleasant to drive.
With four variations available in the Qashqai stable, there are sufficient options to suit most tastes and requirements. The base ST is nicely appointed and provides a comprehensive list of driver safety systems, all for the drive away price of just $37,760. The ST+ at $42,151 provides additional equipment including smart 18-inch alloy wheels, sat navigation, Nissan’s clever around view monitor with moving object detection, a larger 12.3inch touch screen and the convenience of wireless Apple car play.
Moving up to the ST-L for $46,926, you gain stylish 19-inch alloys, adaptive headlights, and helpful front parking sensors. Interior comfort improvements include heated front seats and steering wheel, a cloth and leather accented trim, power adjustable driver’s seat, with dual zone climate control and wireless smartphone charger.
The range topping Ti breaks the 50K barrier at a more portly $52,773. But it may be worth the extra dollars for the simple and effortless motion to activate the power operated tailgate that will allow you to load your shopping easily, before sinking back and relaxing in the opulent quilted leather, to savour your favourite soundtrack pumping through the indulgent 10 speaker Bose audio system whilst receiving a soothing massage from the front seats to ease the tension in your shoulders from the earlier car park battles or running the gambit of the school drop off.
And what better than basking in the winter sunshine through the panoramic glass roof, which comes with its own electric sunshade, should things get a little glary or too hot? Important vehicle information, navigation directions or even your audio selection are displayed through the appealing crisp full colour 12.3inch TFT instrument cluster and an impressive 10.8-inch head up display.
With 13 different exterior colour configurations, you’ll be spoilt for choice. There are eight single-colour options for the ST. Headlining the selection is the pretty Magnetic Blue, but customers can also choose from five eye-catching two-tone schemes including the bold Fuji Sunset Red, conservative Ceramic Grey or a crisp Ivory Pearl. Each of these come with a Pearl Black roof, or why not choose Pearl Black with a Gun Metallic roof should you want something a little different.
Devised at Nissan Design Europe in London and developed at the Nissan Technical Centre in Bedfordshire, it’s interesting to note that this new Qashqai is the first Nissan model globally to feature the pioneering Common Module Family CMF-C platform. So, why is this important to you as the purchaser?
If you consider the reasoning behind the CMF platform from Nissan’s Alliance with Renault, it addresses all aspects of manufacturing expenditure, through synergies, shared volumes, and economies of scale, resulting in a more competitively priced product. And it adopts the best practices for engineering design, safety, and flexibility to enable greater product diversity to meet the changing requirements and needs of consumers across a global market. So, the end result is better value for money, easing the impact on the hip pocket, improved design and safety with more options so you’ve greater choice on what suits your needs. I’m not seeing a downside here… are you?
I’m sure you’ll agree that all makes for riveting brochure reading; but what of the tangible benefits and practicalities of this CMF-C platform? Let’s start with an impressive 48% rise in structural stiffness, further improving the Qashqai’s overall safety and occupant protection in case of an incident.
It also brings a range of other benefits, including larger door openings to 85 degrees, for easier ingress and egress, great for loading kids, puppies or when the Grandparents come along. And who won’t appreciate the bonus of an additional 22mm for greater knee and leg room with headroom and front shoulder room increased by 28mm to provide greater comfort when sitting in the back seat for any length of time? Comfortable passengers are quiet passengers, as they’ll be more focused on the passing scenery rather than arguing over who’s using more than their fair share of space.
From the driver’s seat, I appreciated the increased seat slide range and available lift, offering improved outward visibility for shorter drivers, along with a wider variety of steering height adjustments enabling any driver to get the correct driving position and be comfortable at the same time.
This is all thanks to the new Qashqai’s increased dimensions, starting with a 19mm increase in the wheelbase. It’s now 30mm taller and a good 29mm wider than before.
We rarely stop to consider just how much extra cash we’re feeding into the local petrol station bowser, to lug around the antiquated and unnecessarily heavy components that make up that older car we’re currently driving. Remember lightweight doesn’t necessarily equate to less strength – think carbon fibre! Leveraging advanced manufacturing techniques, the Qashqai’s front and rear doors, front fenders, and bonnet are all crafted from aluminium to reduce weight by a handy 60kgs resulting in better on road performance and greater efficiency in terms of emissions and fuel economy. They made even the rear hatch of our Ti of composite materials to drop a further 2.6kg.
Now run your own simple test. Place your hand out the window at 100kph and feel the strong drag resistance. The Qashqai has innovations to improve aerodynamics through an active grille shutter, body contours for improved airflow, and a flat underfloor to further reduce drag.
OK, there’s evidence to support the claims that the new Qashqai is efficient, but has it got what it takes for a little rubber necking as you pull up outside the local café to catch up with friends? After all, who doesn’t enjoy a little look-at-me when showing off the flash new wheels!
For me, the Qashqai has a definite European flair about it to start those hushed whispers of admiration.
It boasts vogue features like a “floating” roof, sporty shark-fin aerial, and an elegant integrated rear spoiler. Openly flaunting Nissan’s signature DNA, the prominent V-Motion grille is garnished in chrome, gloss black and satin surfaces to highlight its design. Encased by bright signature daylight running lights, they accentuate the tapered profile of the grille, then cut back deep into the fenders, creating a sharp contrasting ridge just below the bonnet line. Separated narrowly by the Qashqai name plate embossed into the metal surface which is flanked by strip style headlights made up of multiple piercing cubed shaped lenses.
At night, these twelve controlled segments shape the light beam for the best visibility depending on the driving conditions.
However, during the day, they’ve a brooding gaze forward, like the eyes of an extra-terrestrial predator.
Side on, our test Ti variant was dressed in smart 19-inch alloys, wrapped in reasonably sticky 235/50 R19 rubber, the lower profile contributing to a little more firmness over surface irregularities and bumps, making them felt a little more in the cabin. For me, it was a negligible compromise for the enjoyable responsive and confident road handling the Ti provides.
Above accented roof rails follow the sweeping roof line, while a sharp chrome moulding defines the door ledge and lower boundary that encompasses the dark privacy glass and blacked out A and B pillars.
A bold waistline contour extends from the front to back, giving the Qashqai an elegant and confident look to complete the rather handsome side profile.
Slip behind the wheel of this new Qashqai and the interior of our test Ti certainly has made significant improvements that are not only aesthetically pleasing but also very practical and intuitive in their operation.
It’s hard to not be self-indulgent on frosty mornings and enjoy the radiating warmth from the heated steering wheel and seats as you enjoy a massage sitting back in the premium quilted leather-accented front pews.
Spin up the power plant to prepare for the journey, and your eyes are drawn toward the snazzy full colour 12.3″ TFT Advanced Drive-Assist Display instrument cluster, allowing you to choose between six different displays with both classic and enhanced views for your driving preference, and all easily configured from the multi-function steering wheel.
Its crisp presentation and great use of graphics provide clear easy access and reference for controlling various vehicle functions and settings with displays on audio entertainment, navigation, and traffic.
But what I really appreciated, especially in heavy traffic, was the sharp visual display projected to the windscreen by the large easy to read 10.8-inch Head Up Display.
The HUD provided an array of important information at a quick glance, minimising distraction and allowing me to stay focused on the road in front and the actions of other drivers around me.
You also get nifty park assist functionality – which given carpark chaos is becoming increasingly essential.
Like most vehicles, all Qashqai variants are equipped with cable connected Android Auto and Apple CarPlay only the ST+ and above provide wireless connectivity. And, as mentioned earlier, our Ti included the convenience of wireless charging and the upgraded Bose 10 speaker audio with subwoofer so you can immerse yourself in the auditory mastery of Rick Wakeman’s Journey to The Centre Of The Earth.
Nissan has done a good job on the Qashqai’s interior design. It’s both practical in its operation and logical in its layout, allowing you to familiarise yourself quickly with various features and functions. And I did like the compact gear selector, partially for its operation, but also for its modern and stylish presentation. There’s an understated elegance about the Ti’s interior, careful attention to detail has gone into the switchgear and buttons, as they have a nice tactile feel in their operation. Everything is within easy reach, with the more important features and controls close at hand for the driver’s convenience.
The dual zone climate control performed well, needing little adjustment, keeping the cabin comfortable, despite experiencing four seasons in one day. Rear passengers will appreciate the inclusion of rear vents, with the convenience of both USB-A and USB-C for connectivity and charging of devices.
One feature which proved to be very handy was the simple splash free windscreen wipers, and not during the rain. I’d not realised how effective they were until I was driving directly into a sunset fireball. Rather than spraying a splotchy mist from remote mounted water jets all over the windscreen and temporarily obstructing my visibility, the fluid is delivered directly from the wiper arm to exactly where it’s needed, and not across your line of sight.
While we’re discussing practicality, our Ti Qashqai offered a respectable 418 litres behind the second-row seating, growing to a decent 1,513 litres when folded flat. Providing sufficient room for those larger items from Bunnings, the garden nursery, or moderate build-it-yourself projects from IKEA.
The Ti also featured an innovative Divide-N-Hide cargo floor system allowing you to hide smaller items discreetly under the floor. With the option to flip the panels for durable carpet on one side and wipe clean plastic on the other.
Peeking under the hood, the new Qashqai has successfully blended a mix of increased power and torque, improved economy, and reduced emissions to enhance the evolution of this popular vehicle.
Nissan’s HR13DDT 1.3-litre 4-cylinder turbo-petrol engine is designed to give the driver more responsive performance through quicker power delivery and additional torque for smoother acceleration. Whilst the miniscule 4kW increase could be easily overlooked, the Qashqai puts its available 110kW to good use. However, it’s the hefty 50Nm torque increase, raising the Qashqai to 250Nm of tractable effort that makes its presence felt in a wide usable delivery band from 1,600 rpm all the way to 3,750 rpm. This enables to Qashqai to glide along effortlessly when so desired, yet releases an assertive push for overtaking and merging into fast-paced freeway traffic with authority.
This feisty little turbo four is not only smooth and quiet, minimising any intrusion into the relaxed cabin ambience, but it’s also light, thanks to its aluminium cylinder head and block. New levels of efficiency are achieved courtesy of its free breathing double-overhead camshaft design with Nissan claiming an impressive 6.1L/100.
Exploiting this happy little engine’s eagerness is the rather clever next generation X-tronic CVT providing sporty paddle-shift gear changing from the steering wheel along with three modes of operation, suburban friendly Standard, frugal cruising Eco and unclip the harness, Sport.
With less internal friction taking the edge off engine performance, it aids in helping improve fuel economy while strengthening engine response and improving the smile factor.
But this is where the X-Tronic’s smarts come into play. Utilising dual oil pumps, the system varies the oil flow depending on the chosen drive mode. At slower speeds, upshifting is smooth and barely noticeable. Engage Sport mode and the changes become resolute during heavy acceleration.
On the road, the Qashqai feels relaxed yet confidently planted. Negotiating suburban streets, potholes, city traffic, road works, or speed humps in busy shopping centres, the suspension is subtle enough to suppress small surface irregularities and dissipate bigger bumps without harsh or abrupt impact transferring into the cabin, and so maintains a cosy, well controlled comfortable and quite ride.
The Qashqai’s handling talents also extend beyond that of a city commuter’s comfort requirements. Peeling off the freeway to escape the lengthy lanes of crawling traffic, I headed away from the city silhouette shrouded in ominous clouds threatening heavy rain. I made my way to the hills, which provided me with the opportunity to get to know this spirited little turbo better. Engaging sports mode and liberating the tacho, it began to show a playful side.
There are noticeable improvements in the way the vehicle drives and its general handling. The torsional rigidity of its new platform lets the Qashqai harnesses the modern Macpherson strut system up front, and the advanced multi-link rear suspension, to maximum effect. With less body and suspension component flex, the Qashqai is better able to maintain accurate steering and suspension geometry for improved stability and comfort over a range of driving conditions and road surfaces.
The Qashqai is no sports car, it has no intent of being one, and it won’t thank you for driving it like one. But what it provides is a rewarding balance of competent handling through twisty country roads or sweeping bends, with nicely graduated and predictable reactions to steering inputs when making directional changes. Backed by progressive and confident brakes, there’s just enough engine performance to be fun but not intimidating when you’re feeling so inclined.
And I know I won’t be the only one please to see an improvement in the Qashqai’s towing capacity to 1.5 tonnes, making it a viable option for light camper trailers.
When it comes to safety, Nissan’s Intelligent Mobility suite is packed with advanced technologies. Fitted with Nissan’s Around View Monitor featuring Moving Object Detection and ProPILOT semi-autonomous driving and safety systems, the Qashqai scored a 91 percent adult occupant protection rating and an impressive 93 percent for child occupant protection, making it a standout among its competitors.
This has enabled the Qashqai to gain a five-star ANCAP rating across its entire range. There are too many systems to cover here. Check them out on the Nissan website and you won’t be disappointed.
With good looks, an opulently appointed interior and a relaxed driving experience that’s both comfortable and quiet, this little Nissan SUV is a nicely balanced blend of style and performance. Whether you’re running city errands or conquering winding country roads, the Qashqai feels confident and stable. There’s good practical storage capacity so you don’t have to compromise on convenience when loading luggage, kids’ sports equipment, or the fur kids.
Packaged with an extensive list of safety features, and awarded a five-star ANCAP rating, the Qashqai places a strong emphasis on protecting you and your passengers.
It’s well worth adding to your test drive list if you’re in the market for a competent little SUV.
Model as tested: Nissan Qashqai Ti
- Price: $52,773
- Engine: 1.3-litre four-cylinder turbo-petrol
- Output: 110kW/250Nm
- Transmission: Xtronic CVT (Continuously Variable Transmission)
- Fuel: 6.1L/100km
- Warranty: 5 Year Unlimited km
- Safety rating ANCAP 5 Stars
Note: Pricing throughout article depends on location and is correct only at time of publishing.
About our Motoring Editor: Ray has been passionate about all things automotive since he first started collecting Matchbox and Hot Wheels models when he was five. Since leaving his executive role at General Motors (GM), he’s been sharing his driving experiences with Australian audiences for nearly 20 years, commencing his automotive journalist career with a popular WA-based magazine and was writing his own column in The West Australian for 8 years.
Ray’s strong love of automotive engineering and clever design has seen his articles and photography featured in prominent national magazines in Australia and the UK. He loves sharing his passion with other drivers, including via a long running stint as Senior Instructor for Land Rover Experience, providing training and education for new vehicle owners.
Recently Ray has been presenting on TV shows including Ready for Adventure and the very popular Caravan and Camping WA, to showcase some of the great products, vehicles and companies that make getting out and exploring Western Australia that much more enjoyable.