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Driven: Nissan loads new Qashqai with more gear

Qash me outside: Although classified as a small-sized SUV, Nissan’s new Qashqai sits at the larger end of the segment which allows for more interior space and a voluminous boot capacity of up to 1598 litres.

Small SUV sales crown not a priority for Nissan’s new safety tech-loaded Qashqai

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Nissan logo1 Dec 2017

By TUNG NGUYEN

NISSAN Australia has launched its fresh-faced Qashqai crossover into local showrooms and is aiming to capture around 1250 new buyers a month, placing it third in the sub-$40,000 small SUV market behind the Mazda CX-3 and Mitsubishi ASX.

However, Nissan Australia general manager of CMM, product planning, campaigns and incentives Chris Schultz told GoAuto at the launch of the facelifted model that nabbing the top sales spot in the segment was not a goal for the Japanese car-maker.

“Whilst everyone has ambitions, this car is somewhat different to the others in the segment,” he said. “Our grades don’t particularly match up with the others and it sits at a higher level of sophistication, design and safety technologies, I think, than some of the other competitors.

“So it’s a little hard to just say we’ll be number one in the segment, I think we’d like to but the reality is that it’s a slightly different car to some of the other cars.”

Growing 17mm longer than its predecessor to measure 4394mm in length, the Qashqai firmly straddles the line between small- and mid-size SUV and is now less than 100mm shorter than the Hyundai Tucson and Mazda CX-5.

The new Qashqai range also ditches the 1.6-litre turbo-diesel powertrain of its predecessor, with a 2.0-litre naturally aspirated four pot now powering the front wheels in the three-variant launch line-up.

With pricing kicking off at $26,490 before on-roads for the six-speed manual Qashqai ST and $28,990 for the same grade equipped with a continuously variable transmission (CVT), Nissan’s small SUV moves up $500 in cost.

A newly-introduced mid-spec ST-L sits above the entry-level version for $32,990 to bridge the gap to the top-spec $37,990 Ti that has risen $1000 and is due to land mid next year.

Until the flagship variant arrives however, the limited-edition N-Tec will sit atop the Qashqai tree priced at $36,490.

Mr Schultz explained the increase in pricing is a result of added safety features across the Qashqai line-up, which now includes autonomous emergency braking, front and rear parking sensors, and lane departure warning.

The diesel powertrain however, was withdrawn due to low customer uptake, according to Mr Schulz, who said it made up a very small percentage of overall sales, while the single petrol powertrain will be used for the “foreseeable future”.

“I think this powertrain for us is what suits the consumers in the segment,” he said. “Looking at the Australian consumer at the moment, the downsized turbos, we do have some in our range, they’re not really aligned with consumer tastes in this segment.

“We took what we thought would be the best engine for the segment as it is currently.”

Similarly, Mr Schultz dismissed the idea that an all-wheel drive or seven-seat option would be re-introduced to the new Qashqai, which was available on some of its predecessors.

“The segment, for us, is not really all-wheel drive, people would more move up to X-Trail for that type of vehicle,” he said.

“This is much more a city-style, small-medium SUV, and now we have X-Trail and Pathfinder for people who are looking at a seven-seater with a growing family, but not so much in this car.”

Across all variants, the 2.0-litre petrol unit produces 106kW of power at 6000rpm and 200Nm of torque at 4400rpm.

The ST manual will return a fuel economy figure of 7.7 litres per 100km, while the CVT-equipped base Qashqai is rated at 6.9L/100km – the same statistic as the automatic-only ST-L, N-Tec and Ti.

From the outside, the new UK-built Qashqai is easily distinguished by its new V-motion front grille, sleeker headlight design and reworked front bumper.

Inside, all grades wear a new D-shaped leather wrapped steering wheel, more extensive uses of high-grade materials, six-speaker sound system and 60:40 split fold rear seats that can stow away to increase boot capacity from 430 litres to 1598L.

Standard equipment at the base grade includes 17-inch wheels, rear roof spoiler, LED daytime running lights, front and rear parking sensors, lane departure warning and reversing camera.

On the inside, the ST is loaded with a 5.0-inch LCD colour display, Bluetooth-compatible infotainment unit, six-speaker sound system, leather steering wheel, cloth seats, electronic parking brake, push-button start, and remote opening and closing windows.

The mid-spec ST-L grade adds equipment including 18-inch wheels, roof rails, foglights, heated folding mirrors, 7.0-inch touchscreen display with satellite navigation and digital radio, part-leather trim, heated front seats and surround view cameras.

The limited-run N-Tec version gains 19-inch wheels, automatic LED headlights, panoramic glass roof, automatic wipers, dual-zone climate control, blind spot warning, rear cross-traffic alert and mood lighting.

In addition to the aforementioned equipment, the top-spec Ti nets nappa leather-accented seats, adaptive cruise control and intelligent lane intervention.

Nissan is expecting buyer preference to be split almost evenly amongst the three versions of the Qashqai with the top-spec version and mid-level variants accounting for 34 per cent of sales each, and the base variant nabbing 32 per cent.

2017 Nissan Qashqai pricing*
ST$26,490
ST (a)$28,990
ST-L (a)$32,990
N-TEC (a)$36,490
Ti (a)$37,990
*Excludes on-road costs

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