HERE at GoAuto, we test new cars every week, but with such a quick turnover, it can often be hard to uncover what a car is really like to live with in just seven days.
That’s why we asked Nissan if we could test its new Qashqai Ti small SUV over six months, delving a little deeper into what it is actually like to own one.
As Nissan’s second-best selling model, and one of Australia’s favourites in the booming small SUV segment, the typical Qashqai buyer might be young singles and couples, or a small family looking to upgrade if they’ve outgrown a small hatchback.
Being a bit larger overall than some of its competitors – think the Mazda CX-3, Hyundai Kona, Toyota C-HR and its Juke stablemate – means the Qashqai has a bit more room for rear-seat passengers, as well as a bigger boot for all of your weekend activity gear.
But if you’re wondering how the Qashqai actually fares in day-to-day duties, well, luckily, we’ve got this one on hand to find out.
Drive impressions – 13/08/2018
Arguably the most important aspect of any vehicle is the interior, after all, that is where you spend most of your time interacting with the car.
Nissan’s Qashqai Ti absolutely nails this aspect, offering a great environment for both drivers and passengers to chase the horizon.
All touch-points, unlike some of its competitors, are swathed in premium-feeling materials from the doors, steering wheel, dashboard, seats and armrests.
Up above, there is a spiffy panoramic glass roof that runs nearly the length of the car, great for letting in light and making the sometimes claustrophobic cabin feel a little more open.
Our favourite aspect of the interior is easily the flat-bottomed steering wheel with ergonomic buttons that fall right in hand.
Instrumentation is clear thanks to big dials and a large 5.0-inch colour LCD display with useful readouts such as fuel economy and driving range.
The Nappa leather-trimmed seats are also a delight, offering ample support for shoulders, lower back and thighs, while the front pews also have access to a two-level heating function. However, some people might not love the ruched look of the leather.
Gloss black and contrasting grey accents also abound to break up the sea of darkness inside, but overall it’s a pleasant place to be.
This top-spec Qashqai Ti also features a big 7.0-inch infotainment touchscreen that is fully loaded with satellite navigation, Bluetooth connectivity and digital radio, but sadly, no Android Auto or Apple CarPlay smartphone mirroring which is disappointing given the Qashqai was only updated late last year.
The system definitely feels dated compared with the units offered in Mazda, Hyundai, Kia and Honda models, but it gets the job done.
We really dig the shortcut buttons flanking the screen that improve functionality, but if we’re being completely honest, the arrangement doesn’t really make sense to us – maybe it’s the OCD inside us, but the asymmetrical buttons just feel… off.
Big improvements have been made to infotainment systems recently, with some other makes offering high-definition screens, voice controls and spiffy animations in their systems, but Nissan’s setup skews much more towards the functional than the modern.
Similarly, climate controls do nothing to wow occupants, but offer an easy-to-use and intuitive set-up with a monochrome display.
Plenty of storage nooks are peppered around the cabin, including one fore of the shifter, a generous central bin, door pockets and requisite glovebox.
Cupholders also abound, with two positioned between front passenger and driver, and one in each door, but unfortunately, the latter will not accommodate larger bottles.
Moving to the rear, the second-row seats offer ample space for taller occupants sitting in outboard positions, but adults in the central location may be compromised in shoulder-, leg- and headroom.
Curiously, the second row does not feature any ventilation, so be prepared to roll down the windows on a balmy summer’s day.
Boot storage is also impressive in the Qashqai, which can swallow a 430-litre load and sports useful features such as bag hooks, a cargo blind, side storage cubbies and a false floor – although the latter’s shallowness puts its practicality into questionable.
Fold the seats down and you can even get up to 1600L into the Qashqai – one of the perks of sitting on the larger spectrum of the small SUV market.
Like all Qashqais, the top-spec Ti is powered by a 2.0-litre naturally aspirated petrol engine producing 106kW of power ad 200Nm of torque.
Sending outputs to the front axle via a continuously variable transmission, the Qashqai’s official fuel economy figure is pegged at 6.9 litres per 100km.
Our time with the car, so far, has been strictly in inner-city environments though, so our figure is a little higher at 9.0L/100km, but that edges out the official urban consumption metric of 9.2L/100km.
The engine struggles a little off the line, but once the on-and-a-half tonne SUV is moving, the engine and transmission combo does a commendable job of keeping things going.
We’re keen to get the Qashqai out on longer stretches of road in future to see how it performs with some more long-distance driving under its belt.
Nissan also tweaked the suspension set-up in November last year for a firmer, but more controlled ride and from what we can tell, the Qashqai feels pretty good darting in and out of traffic.
Although the trade-off is a bumpier ride, especially on the 19-inch wheels fitted here.
The Qashqai Ti also features the a long list of safety equipment – everything that you could possibly need really – including adaptive cruise control, lane keeping assist, autonomous emergency braking with forward collision warning, front and rear parking sensors and a reversing camera.
Our favourite feature though, is the surround-view monitor that makes parallel parking a breeze and should help eliminate unwanted scuffs on the wheels. The Qashqai Ti’s one critical flaw might be in its price. At $37,990 before on-roads, Nissan’s top-spec small SUV is one of the priciest in the segment and is more expensive than some entry-level offerings in the class above.
But then again, it does package together everything a buyer would want out of a car into a stylish and functional package that few others can match.
We look forward to taking the Qashqai out on some long-distance driving to see how it fares on Australia’s open roads – stay tuned for more reviews in the coming months – but our first six weeks with the Nissan crossover bode very well.
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