A new top-line model refreshes the high-riding Nissan Qashqai, and Damien O’Carroll reckons it hits the target.
The Nissan Qashqai has been with us for a while now, having been originally launched in 2007, although we didn’t get it in New Zealand until two years later. A quick facelift in 2010 kept things fresh, and now Nissan NZ has added a new model to the line-up in the form of the top-spec Ti-L.
On the outside the Qashqai still boasts handsome looks, with a particularly strong front end with a hint of aggression, while still remaining unthreatening. It has enough black plastic body cladding to make it look functional, without going silly and promising any form of off-road capability. Which it has never had in NZ, although AWD models are offered in overseas markets.
Inside, quality materials and good build quality give the Qashqai Ti-L a premium feel, with comfortable seats, and an excellent control layout with nice, big chunky buttons and knobs. A commanding ride height is actually a little too commanding for taller drivers, as the seats can’t be lowered enough.
The inclusion of the Around View camera system ( previously seen in the X-Trail) in the Qashqai is a welcome addition, giving a realtime bird’s eye view of surroundings, as well as the traditional reversing camera view. But there are a few problems with it.
While the positioning of the cameras is great, the resolution of the cameras and the size of the screen are not, meaning you are usually left straining to see exactly what it is on the screen, especially the from-above view. That’s during the day in fine weather. At night or in rain it is almost impossible to see anything.
The premium air of the interior matches the Qashqai’s extremely handsome exterior nicely, especially with the Ti-L’s alloy wheels. Around town the Ti-L makes for a great looking, supremely comfortable, flexible and functional mode of transport.
Out on the open road though, things fall apart. The engine develops its peak power and torque relatively high up in the revs, meaning that the CVT rockets up to around 6,000rpm and sits there, thrashing the engine noisily. And, despite 106kW and 198Nm, it still isn’t particularly quick. Ride and handling still hold up okay though, and the Qashqai still makes a fine cruiser - just don’t expect to be doing a lot of overtaking.
At $ 45,200 the Ti-L represents a $ 4,400 premium over the Ti model, but still manages to be a more-than convincing step up in terms of equipment. The Qashqai Ti-L takes a good stab at being a budget-priced luxury cruiser and hits the target on many fronts. It’s just the same old drive train that lets things down somewhat.