The Nissan Qashqai, originally launched in 2007, is one of those vehicles – certainly in the South African scenario – that came from left field and rather surprised everyone.
It was launched locally at a time when Nissan was not exactly enjoying monster sales success and had a product spread that included the ageing Tiida – so the appearance of a stylish, modern compact crossover was something of a revelation, even if it had a somewhat unpronouceable name that too easily became ‘cash cow’.
For Nissan, quite happily, it was just that and remains one of the company’s top selling units in markets around the world.
The original Qashqai replaced the off-road capable body-on-frame Mistral/Terrano II as Nissan’s SUV offering and is named Qashqai after the people living in mountainous Southwestern Iran. Qashqai means ‘A horse with a white forehead’.
The car slotted in below the X-Trail in the Nissan range and partially replaced the conventional Primera, even though it took the production place of the smaller Almera in Europe. In terms of size went up against compact MPVs such as the Peugeot 5008 and compact SUVs like the Hyundai Tucson, Kia Sportage, Toyota RAV 4, Honda CR-V and Mitsubishi Outlander.
Since the first Nissan Qashqai was launched in 2007, 3,3-million units have been sold globally. The wide-ranging changes to the upgraded model were based on customer feedback and industry insights and designed to establish new levels of luxury in the mid-sized crossover segment.
Fast forward to January 2018 and the revamped Qashqai is launched with emphasis on its role as an urban crossover and city partner.
Inside, the Qashqai is more sophisticated and upgrades are more driver-oriented and start with a sporty new D-shaped steering wheel, which has a horizontal base to make entering and exiting the Qashqai easier. The four-way controllers on the steering are new and offer customers more intuitive use to reduce ‘eyes off the road’ time.
The interior door handles and air vents are now finished in higher-quality materials with new stitching being added to the centre console armrest. One-touch power window switches are now available across the range and all windows can now be opened and closed remotely via the key fob.
The front seats have been completely redesigned with tapered shoulders to offer additional support while also improving visibility for rear passengers and the integrated microphone for hands-free telephone use has been moved to the overhead lamp unit for improved performance.
Luggage needs are taken of by a 430-litre boot, which increases to 680 litres when the 60:40 split rear seats are folded flat.
The exterior gets an integrated new front bumper and face with the latest incarnation of Nissan’s iconic ‘V-motion’ grille.On the halogen lights, the ‘boomerang’ Daytime Running Lamp signature is new and consists of nine LEDs. The clam-shell bonnet and rear bumper have also been redesigned.
There are new 17-inch and 19-inch alloy wheels, designed to reduce drag and all the enhancements result in an increased overall length of 17 mm to 4 394 mm while the width (1 806 mm) and height (1 595 mm) remain unchanged.
Our test unit, positioned on below the top of range Tekna, sported quite aggressive wheels (on 225/45R19 rubber) that seemed at odds with the much more gentle lines of the body.
The Qashqai’s ride, handling and steering have been improved and dampers have been retuned, the anti-roll bar stiffness has been increased to maintain handling performance.
Significant improvements have been made throughout the new Qashqai to improve noise, vibration and harshness levels and they include more sound insulation material, additional sealing and the rear door glass is thicker to improve rear passenger experience. There is also less engine noise thanks to powertrain calibration improvements.
The in line four cylinder 1,5-litre diesel engine can best be described as ‘brave’ in that it is willing enough to try and take on the Korean and Japanese opposition but simply does not have the muscle – its 81 kW at 4 000 r/min and 260 Nm between 1 750 r/min and 2 500 r/min meaning it needs 11,9 seconds to get from rest to 100 km/h.
On the up side, though, cruising the (undulating) highway at a genuine 120 km/h on cruise control produced a consumption average of 4,6 l/100 km. In varied conditions and including giving it the full wellie on the twisty section of the test route, it remained extremely frugal and returned 5,5 l/100 km.
The Qashqai is comfortable to be in and the raised seating position provides the driver with a clear view of what is going around him – all ideal as the city car Nissan is punting.
However, accepting that some rowing through the manual gearbox will be needed on longer, steeper hills, the 800 plus kilometres per tank ‘wallet-friendly’ nature of the car plus those comfort features, make it versatile enough for the long haul as well. With just 109 g/km of CO2, it also does it bit for the environment.
With six air bags, hill start, anti-lock braking and several other safety systems, the Nissan Qashqai maintains its five-star Euro NCAP Safety Rating.
The Qashqai is backed up by Nissan Assured including 24-hour roadside assistance and has a 6-year/150 000 km warranty, and a comprehensive 3-year/90 000 km service plan.