NEW WHEELS

With a few mi­nor en­hance­ments and re­vised en­gine line-up, the facelifted sec­ond gen­er­a­tion Nis­san Qashqai is ready to take on the rest of the seg­ment.

Go! Camp & Drive - - CONTENTS - Text Kyle Kock

The Qashqai is def­i­nitely one of the pioneers of the cross­over craze that seems to have gripped South Africa and the rest of the world. At the lo­cal launch of the re­freshed Qashqai, Nis­san was proud to point out that more than 30 000 units have been sold since its in­tro­duc­tion here 10 years ago (to date more than 3.3 m mil­lion have been sold world­wide).

It was also in­ter­est­ing to see that the Qashqai out­sold its big­ger sib­ling, the X-Trail, by more than 3-1 in Europe in Jan­uary of this year. While the mo­tor­ing in­dus­try is so that con­stant up­dates are re­quired to keep your prod­ucts rel­e­vant, there’s a fine line be­tween mess­ing up a win­ning for­mula and get­ting the small changes just right.

Ex­te­rior dif­fer­ences

Thank­fully very little has been tweaked on the Qashqai’s sheet metal. The sec­ond gen­er­a­tion model brought in sig­nif­i­cantly more an­gu­lar de­sign lan­guage that was far more strik­ing than the rounded lines of its pre­de­ces­sor. Nis­san has slightly tweaked the Qashqai’s nose with the lat­est it­er­a­tion of the V-grill – which is now larger and is al­most seam­lessly in­te­grated with the re­vised front bumper. The LED day­time run­ning light sig­na­ture is also a new fea­ture, styled to look like boomerangs. Along the pro­file not much has been al­tered, save for the al­loy wheel de­signs, which have been op­ti­mised to de­crease aero­dy­namic drag. The larger front and rear bumpers also con­trib­ute to a 17 mm in­crease in length for a to­tal of 4 394 mm.

Get­ting in

The first thing you no­tice about the cabin re­vi­sions is the Qashqai’s new flat-bot­tomed leather-wrapped steer­ing wheel and that the seat de­sign has been al­tered.

First im­pres­sions count, and this is def­i­nitely an area in which the Qashqai scores highly. Nis­san says it’s used more pre­mium ma­te­ri­als putting to­gether the Qashqai’s cabin. Ev­ery­thing, from the leather to the plas­tic pan­els and even the faux metal­lic trim, feels

sub­stan­tial and is also pleas­ant to touch.

The range-top­ping 1.5 dCi Tekna model we drove at the launch was equipped with a touch-screen sat­nav in­fo­tain­ment unit paired to a new shark-fin aerial mounted just above the tail­gate and plays through a sev­en­speaker sound sys­tem op­ti­mised by au­dio spe­cial­ists Bose. At this price point, a sound sys­tem with no dis­tor­tion and high-qual­ity vo­cals is def­i­nitely a plus, if that’s im­por­tant to you.

An­other no­table nice-to-have is that one-touch elec­tric win­dows are stan­dard across the Qashqai range, and the key fob al­lows the holder to open and close the win­dows re­motely.

What it’s like to drive

The 1.5 ℓ tur­bod­iesel has taken over the reins from the out­go­ing 1.6 tur­bopetrol and tur­bod­iesel units as the Qashqai’s range­top­ping en­gine and is only avail­able with a man­ual gear­box. On start-up there’s very little diesel clat­ter to speak of, and pedal mod­u­la­tion is as straight­for­ward as it gets. Stir­ring the six-speed gear­box’s ra­tios is also an ef­fort­less af­fair, mak­ing the Qashqai quite an easy ve­hi­cle to drive. The 260 Nm torque peak is on tap be­low 2 000 rpm, al­low­ing for quick bursts when nav­i­gat­ing city traf­fic.

After the launch con­voy left the con­fines of the ur­ban jun­gle that is Jo­han­nes­burg and headed north to­ward Pre­to­ria, we stretched the little diesel’s legs a bit and it didn’t dis­ap­point on the high­way ei­ther.

The 81 kW isn’t much on pa­per, but the power band has been op­ti­mised so the Qashqai never labours. Most over­tak­ing will only re­quire drop­ping a sin­gle cog. Nis­san claims an av­er­age fuel con­sump­tion fig­ure of 4.2 ℓ/100 km for this model, and after our stint be­hind the wheel, in­clud­ing open free­way driv­ing and bumperto-bumper stop-go sce­nar­ios in the af­ter­noon peak, the Qashqai con­sumed just 4.7 ℓ/100 km.

Con­clu­sion

Nis­san’s fo­cus on oc­cu­pant com­fort and safety is ar­guably the finest point of its newer ve­hi­cles. The noise in­su­la­tion is su­perb, the ride is pli­ant, and the com­pany’s raft of safety fea­tures (in­clud­ing a blind spot warn­ing, for­ward col­li­sion warn­ing, and around-view mon­i­tor) im­proves an al­ready great mid-sized cross­over.

Nis­san’s fo­cus on oc­cu­pant com­fort and safety is ar­guably the finest point of its newer ve­hi­cles, and that most def­i­nitely in­cludes the Qashqai.

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