Nis­san Qashqai a mish-mash of styles

Central Otago Mirror - - FEATURES - By DAVE LEGGETT

THE Qashqai is one of a grow­ing num­ber of ve­hi­cles that are now gen­er­ally called crossovers, fit­ting be­tween a con­ven­tion­ally sized sedan and the larger bod­ied sports util­i­ties.

It looks vaguely like a small sports util­ity al­though it’s only front-wheel -drive and when it was first launched last year it was touted as a five door hatch­back with more height and vis­i­bil­ity.

But there’s now a new model Qashqai, and its seven-seater ac­com­mo­da­tion now makes the car an al­ter­na­tive to a peo­ple mover as well.

It’s the Qashqai +2 and it makes Nis­san’s new­est model range even more at­trac­tive.

This new model is barely dis­tin­guish­able from its fiveseater sib­ling in looks. It’s a lit­tle bit big­ger – it sits on a 135mm longer wheel­base and over­all its 211mm longer and marginally taller too. But be­cause the pro­por­tions are kept the same the two Qashqai mod­els look very sim­i­lar.

The shape of the side win­dow at the back is one of the few dif­fer­ences. In the +2 model it’s a lit­tle longer while the win­dow in the stan­dard car is more of a triangle. But the eas­i­est way to tell the ve­hi­cles apart is the roof rails. The +2 is the only model that gets them.

Me­chan­i­cally the +2 is the same as it’s two five seater sib­lings. It’s pow­ered by a 2-litre petrol en­gine that pro­duces a mod­est 102kW of power and 198Nm of torque.

The five-seater car is an un­spec­tac­u­lar per­former and the +2 is marginally heav­ier. That means the +2 is around a sec­ond slower to the speed limit than the smaller ve­hi­cle, hit­ting 100kmh from rest in around 10.5 sec­onds. Like the other mod­els the en­gine is matched to a CVT au­to­matic so there is seam­less ac­cel­er­a­tion.

For a more con­ven­tional drive there are six fixed points and the driver can step man­u­ally through them like a nor­mal se­quen­tial shift au­to­matic.

Sit­ting on the speed limit revs are kept to a low 2000rpm which means easy high­way driv­ing. And that also helps con­trib­ute to a rea­son­able com­bined cy­cle fuel econ­omy fig­ure of 8 litres per 100km.

The Qashqai is a sur­pris­ingly com­fort­able car out cruis­ing. It’s also quiet and very re­fined with lit­tle en­gine or road noise com­ing into the cabin.

It also has a very solid ride for what is still a rea­son­ably small ve­hi­cle and it is well com­posed on the open road.

Over­all bal­ance was very good and it’s easy to for­get that all Qashqai mod­els are front-drive only. There is no all-wheel-drive op­tion in the range but it ac­tu­ally doesn’t miss it.

In­side, the front part of the +2 is vir­tu­ally the same as the other mod­els. It’s a very straight­for­ward fas­cia de­sign that works well and is easy to use, if a lit­tle plain.

The air con­trols and the au­dio sys­tem are mounted rea­son­ably high up and there are also steer­ing wheel con­trols for the au­dio, cruise and trip com­puter.

The Qashqai has great seats. They are firm in the base and fit well in the back and at the sides. And the Qashqai also has one of he biggest glove boxes I’ve seen in a long time. All four doors have map pock­ets too.

The +2 might be a seven seater but the ex­tra seats are re­ally only for ju­niors. Legroom is quite re­stricted in the third row and even with the mid­dle row of seats pushed for­ward it’s still a squeeze.

The third row of seats is well de­signed, pulled up from the load space and well hid­den when not in use. And to im­prove ac­cess into the third row the mid­dle row slides for­ward some 25cm so the kids can get into the back seats.

With just 25cm or so be­tween the backs of the seats and the rear door it’s enough for a few bags of gro­ceries and that’s it.

Seven seats or ex­tra fea­tures like panoramic glass roof, 18-inch al­loys, fog lights and xenon head­lights? If you need the ex­tra ac­com­mo­da­tion the +2 is a very good of­fer­ing.

A bit of ev­ery­thing: Nis­san’s Qashqai is start­ing to look like ev­ery type of ve­hi­cle rolled into one.

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