Nissan Qashqai a mish-mash of styles
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.