THE Nissan Qashqai is a familiar name to South Africans as the first generation model hit local shores in 2007. It became famous, initially, for its notoriously difficult-to-pronounce name, as we struggled to write it, being so used to the pesky “u” following the “q.”
Since that time, the Qashqai has become a household name as the car itself is one of the best compact crossovers available. Nissan recently launched the second generation Qashqai and I had the opportunity to drive it.
The styling is the first thing that you’ll notice as the new Qashqai is a complete rethink. It looks more modern and sleek and in some instances, it even resembles some of its rivals. There are signature design cues such as the Nissan V-grille and a deep air dam a la Murano. There are wider shoulder lines and flared wheel arches housing stylish two-tone alloy wheels, which match the black cladding on the bumpers. At the rear the car features LED wrap-around tail lamps which finish off a great crossover design.
The interior of the new model is far simpler than the exterior and is larger than the first generation model with more leg, head and shoulder room along with a boot that’s increased by 20 litres to 430 litres. All the instruments are laid out in a functional manner while black and silver accents add a bit of suave sophistication to the cabin. The quality is decent in this UK-produced car, with all the tangible materials providing a soft touch. Depending on the model, you also get an infotainment system with Bluetooth, USB and AUX compatibility as well as Smartphone integration with Android and iOS support. There’s also a high definition display in the instrument panel which provides the driver with all the relevant vehicle information.
The Qashqai is a comfortable car. Its seats, for instance, are designed to provide lower back support. The level of refinement is superb with very little wind noise and well-judged damping to soak up the bumps on our pimply roads
In the engine department, Nissan got with the proverbial programme and downsized its engine range. At the lower end of the range we see a 1.2-litre direct injection turbocharged engine which produces 85kW/190Nm, consumes 6.2-litres/100km and is mated to a six-speed manual gearbox. I didn’t have the opportunity to try out this model but I did drive the two oil burners in the range.
First up was the 1.5dCi Acenta manual which features the Renault 1.5-litre common rail turbocharged diesel engine producing 81kW/260Nm. While quiet, smooth and economical (4.2-litres/100km) this engine makes the Qashqai a bit too sluggish for me. The range-topping 1.6dCi Acenta Xtronic CVT and 1.6dCi Acenta AWD feature a 1.6-litre common rail turbocharged diesel engine which makes 96kW/320Nm and makes the car feel quite a bit more sprightly even though it sips more fuel with a claimed figure of 5.3 litres/100km for the manual variant, which is the one I drove.
The range starts with the 1.2T Visia manual, which includes standard features such as LED daytime running lights, electrically adjustable door mirrors, cloth trim, 16-inch wheels, a five-inch HD Drive-Assist Display, four-speaker audio system, a multi-function steering wheel, Bluetooth, cruise control and manual air conditioning. The 1.2T Acenta and 1.5dCi Acenta derivatives get 17-inch alloy wheels as standard, automatic lights and wipers, front fog lights, electric folding door mirrors, a leather steering wheel and gear lever, an electric anti-dazzle rear-view mirror, six speakers, dual-zone climate control and two extra cup holders.
Each Acenta model can have the Design Pack which adds roof rails and 19-inch wheels or the Techno Pack which adds a view monitor and the aforementioned NissanConnect infotainment system. The top of the range 1.6dCi Acenta models get 19-inch wheels, LED headlights with auto levelling, silver roof rails, privacy glass, chrome-accented front fog lights and keyless entry.
The all-new Nissan Qashqai is an impressive product that should satisfy current Qashqai owners and attract a few new drivers too. It comes with an impressive six-year/150 000km warranty and a five-year/90 000km service plan.