Car reviews - Nissan - Qashqai - Ti
Features, ride comfort, engine performance, perceived quality, safety and convenience
Room for improvement
Rear seat a bit tight, CVT can make engine noisy, price will surprise small SUV buyers
Baby Nissan SUV wraps luxury with style and sorted dynamics
20 Mar 2023
By NEIL DOWLING
NISSAN’s two years of treading water in Australia awaiting the X-Trail and Qashqai opened the door to rivals leap-frogging the brand in the seriously-competitive Small and Medium SUV sector.
But the wait – attributed to production slowdowns and customer demand from larger markets – has only made the heart beat stronger.
Buyers will be impressed by everything Nissan now offers in the two SUV sectors, with the Qashqai alone having the potential – supply permitting – to lead the small SUV pack.
I don’t often get impressed by small SUVs with continuously variable transmissions (CVT), which are often akin to witnessing a torturous interplay of frenetic engine tantrums combined with the forward momentum of a local government meeting, but in this case I’m very nearly there.
The Qashqai isn’t faultless, but it’s really only when pushed harder than the average shopping trolley that any minor annoyances come to the fore. For the commuter and urban shopper market who have no lust for the frivolities of enthusiastic driving, however, it’s a beauty and a must-see for new-car buyers.
The only catch is that if you’re expecting your next small SUV to be cheap, this one ain’t. At $47,390 + ORCs – that is, $50,000-plus on the road – the Qashqai has all the features you’d expect for the price but in a smaller package that you may have expected.
The expectations weren’t high. Small SUVs are designed to go from A to B with the minimum of fuss, cost and excitement. They are traditionally purchased by people who are young and busy with other things, or more mature citizens like myself who want practical transport at a budget price.
The Qashqai bridges these markets better than most. It is stylish and its upswept profile looks almost sporty and unlike many Plain Jane rivals.
It’s 4.4m long – a tad longer than many in its class and a smidge shorter than the first-gen X-Trail (4.5m) – and sits on a 2665mm wheelbase with platform architecture carried over, but modified, from the previous model.
This Renault-Nissan CMF-C/D platform is more rigid than its predecessor. It is also used in the latest X-Trail, Mitsubishi Outlander, Renault Austral and Mercedes-Benz A-Class.
Also shared is the Qashqai’s engine – appearing in the A-Class and Renault Kadjar amongst others – although most tack theirs to a dual-clutch transmission.
The Qashqai and X-Trail get a CVT, updated and improved over previous versions.
Despite the 1.3-litre capacity, the turbocharged four-cylinder petrol engine is quick, flexible and lively, and even fuel efficient.
It pumps a modest 110kW at 5500rpm and torque of 250Nm flat from 1600-3750pm, up 4kW/50Nm on the aspirated 2.0-litre petrol of the previous Qashqai.
The torque delivery is important, especially in its relationship with the CVT. The SUV feels quite comfortable with the smallish engine and elastic characteristics of the transmission, so that there’s not a lot of flare (the high revs; car going nowhere feeling) off the mark.
Better, it keeps the engine at modest revs, tending to hold it (well, programmed to hold it) in the torque band to maximise punch and minimise thirst.
But it doesn’t restrict the driver from giving the car a nudge. There is a strong power delivery after the transmission clears a bit of lag and slippage which can be softened or magnified by choosing the driving modes of Eco, Normal or Sport.
On top of that, there’s paddle shifters on the steering wheel to hold the CVT in a specific pre-set ratio, making controlling the power delivery while driving, for example, in tight or twisting road conditions. It helps the fun factor.
Handling is predictable but there is a softness to the suspension clearly designed to appease most driving conditions and drivers.
So, while it’s grippy enough for suburbia, the front-wheel drive (there’s no all-wheel drive option) has limitations at the top end of the performance band while the suspension and higher stance of the SUV introduces some body roll.
Overall, the ride comfort and ability to absorb road shock is good. Some drivers and occupants may feel that the ride is a bit firm but it’s certainly not uncomfortable and the positive feedback to the steering wheel is worth the effort.
Seat comfort is quite good. Nissan has prided itself on making seats that deliver long-distance comfort with ease of entry-exit and the Qashqai meets that grade.
Nissan claims 6.1 litres per 100km for average fuel consumption while the test (mainly suburban and highway routes) returned 7.1L/100km. The tank is 55 litres and thanks to the turbocharger, the recommended petrol is the more expensive 95RON unleaded.
Features for the $47,390 + ORCs Ti tested here are very comprehensive. There’s only a little bit less in the second-string ST-L and the $5200 price difference may trigger many buyers to have a rethink.
That price can also bring some dollars in change for buyers moving into the medium-size SUV category.
It is something, unfortunately, we will have to live with. Since the COVID-19 pandemic, all car prices have been on the march as manufacturers see ways to reduce production volume while maintaining profits.
The Ti’s price compares with other rivals who have added a few coins to the sticker price, including the Toyota Corolla Cross Atmos ($49,050 + ORCs), Mazda CX-30 Astina G25 ($43,310 + ORCs), and Peugeot 2008 GT Sport ($51,188 + ORCs).
But in its favour, the Ti has class. For starters, the cabin has an impressive standard of quality in fit and finish, with a sense that high-grade materials have been used as evident by the quilted leather upholstery. Typically, much of the cabin is black but there’s no feeling that it’s a cavern.
I liked the fat 12.3-inch touchscreen and the fact that not everything is controlled by a finger. All the HVAC is on manual switches and buttons beneath the screen so there’s no stabbing the glass trying to adjust the climate temperature.
The 10-speaker Bose audio is superb and even though the subwoofer in the boot reduces cargo space to 418 litres from 429 litres, it’s worth it.
There’s sat-nav and wireless charging for the phone. The Apple Carplay is wireless but the Android Auto needs to be plugged.
Front seats are electrically adjustable and include massage function for both driver and passenger.
Clear instruments are also welcome ahead of the driver, with a load of high-use controls on the steering wheel spokes. The best is the 10.8-inch head-up display and the auto-fold mirrors with heaters.
Safety equipment is great, opening with autonomous emergency braking (AEB) when going either forwards or in reverse and with pedestrian, cyclist and intersection monitoring; adaptive cruise control; lane keeper assist; rear cross-traffic alert; blind-spot monitor; traffic sign recognition; and along with the normal airbag compliment, one in the centre between the front occupants.
Nissan provides a five-year/unlimited-kilometre warranty which is less than many rivals, while the roadside assistance is also five years.
Capped-price servicing will cost $1467 for three years (it goes for five years) which also is above some rivals.
12th of January 2023
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