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Nissan Qashqai: Still blowing the segment lights out

By Miles Downard

What’s this?

Nissan’s Qashqai claims to have pioneered the crossover segment, celebrating it’s 10th birthday this past February. That’s quite a claim considering things like the Subaru Forester have been around somewhat longer. Regardless, the Qashqai is one of the best selling crossovers the world has seen in the last decade, especially in Europe where it’s consistently been on top of the sales charts.

The second generation Qashqai launched in 2014, with vastly refreshed looks and a range of new motors on offer. It’s been a while since then, so we thought we’d catch up with this much loved crossover to see if it’s still a segment leader.

On the outside

As mentioned the exterior underwent a big overhaul in 2014. It looks great in my opinion. Just interesting enough to stand out, but not so much that you’re a sore thumb. If you’re into colour then the right one really pops. There’s really nothing to dislike here.

On the inside

It must be said that the quality of the Qashqai’s interior is very good. The use of premium quality materials combined with a layout that’s simple and fuss free culminate in a pleasant place to be on any journey.

It’s comfortable and spacious too. Nissan was in fact inspired by NASA to analyse blood flow and pressure in the lower backs of seated passengers, the engineers using advanced medical scanning techniques to design brand new seats which offer even support. The results are evident with special bolstering in the pelvis, lumbar and chest areas that offers incredible long-distance comfort.

Behind the wheel

Under the hood lies Nissan’s 1.5 litre diesel motor that you’ll also find in the NP200 bakkie and a couple others. It’s a peach, producing 81 kW and plenty torques at 260 Nm. It’s quieter and lighter than previous applications. Paired with a 6-speed manual gearbox that powers the front wheels the combination achieves unbelievable fuel efficiency. Class leading in fact. The combined cycle averages just 4.2-litres per 100 km. For some context I drove 1,000km on a single tank with ease. Carbon emissions of only 109 g/km making this Qashqai exempt from carbon emissions tax too.

Something the Qashqai does well is achieve a very car-like driving feel, despite the relatively high centre of gravity. There are a few technologies that are key to that. Active Trace Control complements the car’s stability control at lower speeds by applying specific braking force to each wheel to correct your course during cornering. Active Ride Control goes even further to enhance the comfortable ride with flatter body control by applying subtle braking to individual wheels when driving over undulating surfaces. You also have the option of ‘sports’ steering, which weights up turning effort. In my opinion a waste of time as it doesn’t aid or add to the driving experience.

Pricing

This 1.5 DCI Acenta model is R382,900. It comes with cruise control, dual zone climate control, Bluetooth, start/stop idle and a load of storage. The rear seats fold too. The main competitors come in the form of Hyundai’s Tucson (R439 900; 1.7 turbo diesel) and it’s sister the Kia Sportage (R406 995; 1.7 turbo diesel), the Suzuki Vitara (R337 900; 1.6 petrol), Ford Kuga (R499 900; 2.0 turbo diesel) and VW’s Tiguan (R477 000; 2.0 turbo diesel).

That’s a strong market to say the least, but historically Nissan has mixed it with the best of those on sales volumes. A lot can be said for the Qashqai’s exceptionally competitive pricing and good list of features that even betters the Koreans in some instances. The Suzuki is an interesting curve ball in this segment, though, offering a very efficient petrol motor, unwavering reliability and competitive spec levels.

Verdict

It’s no wonder the Qashqai is such a popular choice both here in South Africa and abroad. It offers great value at that price point, but it goes well beyond simple value for money. The interior is a nice, quality place to be and the car looks great too. Throw that lovely diesel motor into the mix and I can completely understand why these fly off the showroom floors.

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