NIS­SAN QASHQAI 1.5 DCI TEKNA

The Qashqai is bet­ter and more an­gu­lar than ever

Driven - - Contents - Re­port by BERNIE HELLBERG | Im­ages © NIS­SAN SOUTH AFRICA

THE REA­SON THAT YOU WILL IM­ME­DI­ATELY IDEN­TIFY THE NIS­SAN QASHQAI IS NOT BY ITS NAME OR ITS SHAPE, BUT BE­CAUSE THEY’VE BE­COME SO POP­U­LAR IN SOUTH AFRICA, THAT QASHQAIS CAN BE SEEN JUST ABOUT EV­ERY­WHERE. BERNIE HELLBERG FINDS OUT WHY THE QASHQAI IS SUCH A FIRM LO­CAL FAVOURITE.

The com­pact SUV sec­tor is boom­ing at the moment, grow­ing at a faster pace than any other, for three rea­sons: SUV’s are more prac­ti­cal than hatch­backs, in terms of both size and con­fig­u­ra­tion, and they also have a good dose of style, giv­ing off a fair bit of drive­way envy. Then there is the com­mand­ing driv­ing po­si­tion, and as any­one who has driven an SUV will know, there’s a lot to be said for hav­ing an un­hin­dered view of the road, and is a more re­lax­ing way to drive, for a start.

LOOK­ING GOOD

The Qashqai ticks all of the SUV want boxes and brings to mar­ket quite a strik­ing de­sign aes­thetic too. As well as look­ing bet­ter pro­por­tioned than some of its com­peti­tors, there are some nice creases and de­tails to the body that give it quite a sculpted shape.

From the front, where the head­lights and grille re­flect the cur­rent Nis­san fam­ily iden­tity – a chromed ‘V’ that cra­dles the large Nis­san badge – and day­time run­ning light ar­rows point­ing to­wards the cen­tre, and the road ahead.

The rear man­ages a nicely cropped rear over­hang, and the top-spec Tekna such as our test car, 19” bi-colour al­loy rims fin­ish off the stylish look quite nicely.

Be­ing a fam­ily-ori­ented ve­hi­cle, the Qashqai in­te­rior plays a con­sid­er­able part in the buy­ing de­ci­sion, and we’re happy to re­port that the Qashqai feels spa­cious and airy, an ex­pe­ri­ence am­pli­fied by the vast amounts of glass that let in sig­nif­i­cant amounts of light.

The dash­board strikes a del­i­cate bal­ance be­tween be­ing con­tem­po­rary yet re­served; there are some sub­tle curves to the shape, and just the right amount of glossy plas­tics and brushed alu­minium-look dial and vent sur­rounds. Night-time am­bi­ent light­ing ef­fects also add a splash of pre­mium ap­peal that oth­ers in the seg­ment don’t quite have.

Seat­ing is gen­er­ous and sup­port­ive, and for this par­tic­u­lar unit, Nis­san has added the op­tional Techno Pack (R16,800) with builtin satel­lite nav­i­ga­tion, heated door mir­rors, a birds-eye cam­era sys­tem, and Nis­san Con­nect sys­tem smart­phone in­te­gra­tion.

Rear pas­sen­gers (up to three) have a de­cent amount of legroom too, and a fold­away false floor be­side, the boot of­fers 430 litres of lug­gage space with the seats up, 1,585 litres with them folded flat.

FEEL­ING GREAT

Un­der the hood of our test unit, the 1.5-litre Re­nault-sourced tur­bod­iesel en­gine beat its tune at 81 kW and 260 Nm of torque. That’s a mere four kilo­watt less than the 1.2-litre turbo petrol of­fered in other Qashqai mod­els, but with a whop­ping 70 Nm more twist. Ex­plain­ing why the oil burner is so pop­u­lar among buy­ers and is un­doubt­edly our pre­ferred power source for the Qashqai.

We tested the 1.5 Tekna with a six-speed man­ual box, which should be cred­ited for its sharp shift­ing na­ture, al­though gear ra­tios at the higher end could have been a bit longer to make bet­ter use of the mas­sive torque that’s bunched to­gether in the lower rev re­gion.

The Qashqai has al­ways been the keen han­dler among its ri­vals, and the up­graded sus­pen­sion sys­tem of the facelifted Qashqai is even more re­ward­ing. There’s good turn in and sur­pris­ingly good body con­trol, and de­serves praise in the way it copes with the gen­er­ally un­cer­tain road con­di­tions found in and around Gaut­eng.

In terms of fuel us­age, Nis­san claims an av­er­age of 4.2-l/100 km in the com­bined cy­cle (6.2-l/100 km for the petrol op­tion), al­though we man­aged a more re­al­is­tic 6.7l/100 km over our week-long test pe­riod.

LAST WORD

At its base price of R445,500, the 1.5dCi Tekna Qashqai makes fi­nan­cial sense when com­pared to ri­vals; VW’s Tiguan, the Hyundai Tuc­son, and Peu­geot 3008. With com­par­a­tive power to all but the Frenchie (its 1,998 cc tur­bod­iesel de­liv­ers 110 kW and 370 Nm), and high lev­els of comfort and safety, it’s got to be high on your shop­ping list right now. For us, the Acenta Plus (R417,900) of­fers even bet­ter value with­out com­pro­mis­ing on looks and op­tions, but we won’t eas­ily look else­where for the price.

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