Car reviews - Nissan - Qashqai - Ti
Comfortable and stylish seats, strong specification levels, striking looks, willing and pliant powertrain, generous interior space for a small SUV
Room for improvement
Dated infotainment system, harsh ride on large alloys, steering could be sharper
We take the Nissan Qashqai Ti away for the weekend to see how it goes outside the city
26 Sep 2018
IN THE middle of the year, GoAuto took possession of its first long-term test car – a Nissan Qashqai Ti, the top-spec version of its second best-selling model behind the venerable X-Trail medium SUV.
Since that time, we have tested the Qashqai to see how it performs in an urban environment where, as a small SUV, it will likely spend most of its life.
This time around, we are trying something a little different. We have taken the Qashqai down to Lorne, a town two hours from Melbourne on Victoria’s Surf Coast, to see how it performs as a weekend getaway vehicle.
We have already seen that the Qashqai has what it takes to conquer the city, but how does it fare on the open roads?
The first part of any road trip is packing the car full of clothes and other items for a weekend away, and we are pleasantly surprised by the amount of luggage the Qashqai is able to swallow.
Yes, it plays in the bigger end of the small SUV segment, but at 430 litres, the Qashqai has clearly more boot space than traditional small SUVs like the Mazda CX-3 (264L), Subaru XV (310L) and Hyundai Kona (361L).
Fold down the front passenger seat, you will even be able to fit a day’s worth of beach items such as a surfboard, esky, chairs and umbrella.
The Qashqai’s interior is a comfortable one for a trip lasting multiple hours, with comfortable, well-sculpted, heated leather seats, premium-felling touchpoints and a gorgeous panoramic moonroof that is particularly enjoyable for rear passengers, greatly increasing interior ambience and lightening an otherwise dark interior.
Interior specification is strong, with the aforementioned DAB+ digital radio, effortless smartphone Bluetooth pairing, surround-view monitor, adaptive cruise control, and satellite-navigation projected onto a 7.0-inch touchscreen display. Apple CarPlay/Android Auto compatibility is the only notably absent interior feature.
The generous standard spec is no doubt related to the Qashqai Ti’s price, which at $37,990 plus on-roads, is one of the costliest in the segment.
While Nissan’s infotainment system is perfectly functional with shortcut buttons lining either side of the screen, it falls to the back of the pack for navigation, aesthetics, clarity and processing speed.
This is particularly evident in the sat-nav, with Nissan’s map system looking dated and poorly laid out. At one point we were driving down an empty road looking for a turn-off, and when we arrived at the point, the map system failed to display the name of the road (which we required), despite being the only other road visible on the whole map. It is little design flaws like this that Nissan needs to iron out with its next-generation infotainment system.
The air-conditioning cluster allows for simple and intuitive operation, and the buttons look and feel premium for the segment.
Our drive down to the coast was done in comfort, with the dual-zone climate control, heated seats and moonroof making for a pleasant drive, and while ride quality is solid, we feel it is a little harsh.
This could be improved in two ways – either soften the suspension set-up for a more pliant ride, or downgrade the 19-inch alloy wheels, a huge rim size for a vehicle of the Qashqai’s dimensions.
Granted, the rims look great – the Ti cuts a striking figure whether parked or at speed – but at the end of the day the buyer needs to ask themselves if they prefer supple ride comfort or stylish looks. A space-saver spare is fitted as standard, reasonable given the sheer size of the regular wheel, while a tyre repair kit would be inadequate for driving in more remote locations.
One positive aspect of the Qashqai’s firm suspension calibration is it results in sporty handling characteristics, great for a drive along the world-famous Great Ocean Road.
The Qashqai stays planted and upright through corners, showing no hints of over- or understeer and making for a thoroughly enjoyable driving experience through the twisty roads of the Otways. Steering feel could be a bit sharper, bit that is if we’re nitpicking.
Powering the Qashqai Ti is a 2.0-litre aspirated petrol four-cylinder engine developing 106kW/200Nm, driving the front wheels via a continuously-variable transmission (CVT).
Many in the automotive industry hold a disdain for CVTs due to their uninspired driving characteristics, however we feel they work well in applications such as the Qashqai, where engine output is adequate at best.
In lowly-powered vehicles, CVTs do a good job of maximising power output and keeping engine revs at an optimal level, and the Qashqai is no exception.
At no point did we feel it was underpowered despite carrying two passengers, a boot full of luggage and driving at highway speeds.
Initial acceleration could be punchier, but the CVT soon finds the sweet spot in the power band, getting the car up to speed in no time.
Engine revs sit at under 2000rpm at 100km/h, and at no point does the engine feel overworked.
Highway cruising is made simple with active cruise control and lane departure warning. Only lane-keep assist could have made the long-haul trip more convenient.
Fuel economy in our Qashqai sits at 9.0 litres per 100km, relatively thirsty considering its official combined figure of 6.9L/100km. A 65-litre fuel tank ensures that driving range is still ample, getting us to our destination on less than half a tank of unleaded fuel.
As far as small SUVs go, the Qashqai is one of the best for a weekend getaway. Its ample interior dimensions, comfortable cabin and sporty handling characteristics make for a fun and practical road-trip car, however an updated infotainment system and smoother ride quality would make it even better.
Keep an eye on GoAuto.com.au over the coming months for more of our thoughts on the Qashqai, as we continue to put it through its paces in a range of environments and day-to-day situations.
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