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.
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.
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.
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.
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.