Across a burgeoning range of Nissan SUVs, the 2017 Nissan Qashqai is still one of the greatest the Japanese manufacturer offers. Despite being launched nearly four years ago, the Qashqai seems to have held its own in the face of newer, stiffer competition.
Still selling reasonably well (third place so far this year behind the Mazda CX-3 and Mitsubishi ASX) deep into its second generation, the stylish Qashqai is something of a silent achiever when it comes to ferrying a young family around at an affordable price-point.
Considering most of the Nissan range uses older technology and infotainment, the Qashqai is one of few that gets around with 21st century infotainment and safety technology. Luckier still, a facelift has just been revealed for the UK-built small-sized SUV. Arriving early next year, it’ll bring a range of updated technology and design cues to bring it to the forefront of the small-sized SUV race.
But, we live in the now, and right now Nissan is keen to move what will soon become the old model. We’ve already seen a factory-backed offer of $3000 off the entire Qashqai range in previous months. Sitting atop the Qashqai range, the TL is priced at $39,990 (excluding on-road costs) and includes only one option: metallic paint ($495).
Our range-topping test model comes in Ivory Pearl, and includes leather-accented trim throughout the cabin, a 7.0-inch colour touch screen, dual-zone climate control, heated (front seats) and power-adjustable front seat (driver only) and surround-view cameras.
It’s a nice place to sit on a cold Autumn’s day - which we happen to find ourselves in - and especially so with the heated seats on. The infotainment is arguably the best unit offered by Nissan, with Bluetooth pairing and audio streaming being a simpler procedure than elsewhere in the range. It’s also quick to reconnect once you jump back into the car.
Most surfaces are soft to the touch and feel nice for a small SUV. The steering wheel, in particular, is covered in grippy leather-accented trim and feels great in-hand. Leather-accented trim also covers the front seats, which are comfortable and supportive no matter the distance you travel.
The touch-screen infotainment is simple to use and provides clear and concise maps, menu screens and radio controls. We found the factory six-speaker audio setup to be good for its price and class, with audio controls also found on the steering wheel.
There’s enough storage space for items like keys and wallets in front of the gear shift, as well as space in the centre console bin and door pockets big enough for bottles. The boot also features Nissan’s “Divide-N-Hide” boot system - a 430-litre, two-level boot floor capable of hiding items away from prying eyes. The rear seats also fold down in a 60:40 format for larger items.
Straddling the space between small and mid-sized SUVs, passengers do quite well for space in the second row. There’s plenty of toe-room for comfortable feet and ample headroom even with the panoramic glass roof.
Although there’s plenty of touchy-feely plastics up front, that’s where the quality ends. In the back, there’s a noticeable difference in cabin feel and the plastics are coarse and built ‘tough’ for longevity rather than luxury. There are also no air vents for the rear passengers.
Overall, the cabin is still stylish and well-presented four years on from the launch date. The TL model includes some safety tech as standard, with blind-spot monitoring, lane-departure warning and a rear cross-traffic alert which combines with the around-view monitor to alert drivers of hazards like people when reverse parking, for example.
Outside, the front-wheel-drive TL receives 19-inch alloy wheels shod in 225/45 Continental rubber. Ti and TL models are equipped with LED daytime running lights and headlights, as well as fog lights for when the weather becomes a bit rougher. The panoramic roof also provides plenty of ambient light throughout the cabin, making it feel airy and larger than it is.
Hitting the roads around town, the Qashqai feels immediately at home among the suburbs and the tighter streets which suit ideally a small car, but a small SUV is the next best thing. The TL is equipped with a turbocharged 1.6-litre four-cylinder diesel engine which outputs 96kW at 4000rpm, but receives peak torque of 320Nm at 1750rpm.
This little SUV is perfectly happy being shuffled around the streets of Melbourne with the diesel and CVT combination proving surprisingly complementary.
That CVT does a decent job of hiding itself as well, simply by staying quiet and utilising the low-down torque of the diesel engine, rather than having to rev higher in a naturally aspirated car to get anywhere.
Throughout the week of testing, the Qashqai used an average of 6.7 litres per 100km on a mixed cycle, up from a claimed 4.9 L/100km. The start-stop system also features a neat infographic which describes how much carbon dioxide you’ve saved the Earth from in kilograms.
The steering makes more sense when out on country roads, being a heavier feel than what you’d expect. It weights up nicely through a flowing bend and the car stays nice and flat when cornering. A side-effect of that, though, is the firmer than normal ride which can get a little jarring on rutted and potholed roads.
The turbocharged diesel doesn’t provide punchy acceleration when overtaking, more so just a tractable waft of speed. There can be a bit of frustrating lag off the mark when accelerating from traffic lights, especially if the stop start system is on.
From an ownership perspective, Nissan offer a capped-price service deal with 10,000km service intervals. For the TL, the first three services cost $291, $396 and $314 – considerably pricier than the petrol equivalent. There’s also free 24-hour roadside assistance for the first 120,000kms/6 years.
Whether the diesel TL is the right buy for you, depends on how much driving you do and how regularly you mind filling up. Although our Qashqai used almost three more litres of fuel per 100km than Nissan’s claim, it’s still less than the fuel consumption we’ve seen on-test from petrol-powered Qashqai models.
If you’re happy paying the extra $3000 outlay for the diesel TL over the petrol models, it’s a superior driving experience, thanks to the diesel engine, and you’ll see better fuel efficiency throughout your ownership. Despite the densely populated small SUV segment, the Qashqai still shines as a stylish and very capable model, perhaps the best in Nissan’s line-up.