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It seems like every second new-car launch these days is a small SUV or crossover, but while some manufacturers are catching on to the trend, others have been in the game for quite some time.
Fast-forward 12 years and the Qashqai is now sold here as the Qashqai, not the alternative name that previously adorned Australian and Japanese vehicles, having proven to be one of the brand's most successful models.
You may remember I covered the local launch of the 'Series 2' Qashqai range back in December 2017, where Nissan Australia said it had sold more than 38,000 of the second-gen model between 2014 and October 2017, and some 3.3 million globally during the same period.
Since then, the Qashqai hasn't really showed any signs of slowing down, continuing to do solid volume despite an increasing amount of new and revised competitors joining the scene in recent months – including the Skoda Karoq, and the revised Honda HR-V.
Here we have the new flagship, the 2019 Nissan Qashqai Ti, which first arrived in June last year having been a late starter after the core range that landed Down Under in December the year before.
Priced from $37,990 before on-road costs, the top-spec Qashqai is positioned at the very pointy end of the small-SUV segment, almost straddling the mainstream and premium segments – the latter featuring numerous models that kick off at, and around, the $40,000 mark.
You get a handsome amount of kit for the spend here, though. Standard specification includes lovely Nappa leather trim with watch-strap-style quilting, adaptive cruise control, 'Intelligent Lane Intervention', full-LED adaptive headlights with high-beam assist, a fixed panoramic sunroof with powered shade, and sexy 19-inch alloy wheels.
The headlights, sunroof and alloys were already standard on the outgoing Qashqai N-Tec, which acted as a stand-in flagship while Nissan waited for the driver-assistance technologies in the Ti to be available to our market.
Other goodies reserved for the flagship include memory for the driver's seat, power adjustment for the front passenger, ambient interior lighting, an auto-dimming rear view mirror, rain-sensing wipers, and dual-zone climate control.
Features carried over from lower grades include a 7.0-inch touchscreen navigation system, DAB+ digital radio, LED daytime-running lights and tail-lights, six-way power adjustment for the driver, heated front seats, a 360-degree camera system with Moving Object Detection, heated and power-folding side mirrors, privacy glass, six-speaker audio, a six-speaker sound system, and leather accents for the steering wheel and gearshift.
The Qashqai Ti outdoes most rivals in terms of standard kit, and the looks of the midlife refresh have done well to keep the crossover looking good in an ever-competitive segment.
In fact, to this reviewer, the Qashqai is one of the most attractive small SUVs on sale. Why? It's aggressive and modern without being too polarising like a number of rivals in the segment.
Our tester's Vivid Blue paint is the sole no-cost colour available, with other hues and shades commanding a $595 premium. The bright blue is a good look for the Qashqai, emphasising its sleek lines and also offering some contrast to the silver roof rails and black plastic lower cladding.
We're fans of the full-LED lighting specific to the Ti grade, too, which makes the Nissan look very upmarket and expensive in the carpark.
Inside isn't quite as flash, though it takes a similar approach to Volkswagen in getting the basics right and employing high-quality materials.
All the controls and switchgear are logically laid out and the texts are clear everywhere, with a neutral black colour scheme that will offend few. It's a shame Nissan Australia doesn't offer the Plum Nappa leather option available overseas.
We're not huge fans of the ageing infotainment system, which lacks smartphone mirroring like Apple CarPlay and Android Auto (despite being available overseas), and also has a very basic interface with graphics that look like old computer software.
In saying that, this media unit is far better than the laggy one offered elsewhere in the range like the 370Z and Pathfinder, with relatively quick response times and smooth transitions in the navigation system.
Having DAB+ digital radio is also a plus, as is the reliable Bluetooth system that connects easily and offers clear sound for phone calls and music streaming through the standard six-speaker audio system.
Being one of the larger offerings in the segment, the Qashqai provides adequate room in the back for taller passengers, even with the fixed panoramic roof fitted to our Ti tester. Don't try fitting three adults across the back bench for a longer trip, though, if you want to stay on good terms.
Parents are catered for with ISOFIX child seat mounts for the outboard rear seats, while the centre seat also features a top-tether point. However, kiddies in the back might get a bit warm in summer, as there are no rear air vents available, despite the larger X-Trail (which sits on the same platform) offering them. Despite the omission, it's pretty standard for the class to not have rear ventilation.
As for safety, all Qashqai models get dual front, side and curtain airbags (six total), and wear a five-star ANCAP rating with 2017 date stamp – though the safety score is based on Euro NCAP tests.
Behind the second row is a 430L boot, which is towards the top of the class in terms of outright volume. Only the Honda HR-V (437L) and Skoda Karoq (479L) better the Nissan in this regard.
There are also nifty underfloor storage compartments and an adjustable floor should you want to stop smaller items from moving around, and the luggage area expands to a capacious 1598L with the second row folded. Not bad. Like all Qashqai variants, a space-saver spare wheel lives under the boot floor.
Now, how does Nissan's popular crossover behave on the road? Well, it's not much different to the last time we reviewed a Nissan Qashqai, given the drivetrain has remained the same.
Power across the range in Australia comes from a naturally aspirated 2.0-litre four-cylinder petrol engine, which makes an uninspiring 106kW at 6000rpm and 200Nm at 4400rpm.
Bar the entry-level ST, which comes with a six-speed manual as standard, the wider Qashqai range sends drive to the front wheels exclusively via a continuously variable transmission (CVT). Small-capacity turbo-petrols are available abroad, as are turbo-diesels, with manual and dual-clutch automatic transmission options.
Performance is, well, not earth-shattering. Around town, the CVT does a relatively good job at keeping the 2.0-litre atmo four on the boil, getting to speed at a decent pace.
Step on the throttle too hard, though, and you'll see the revs flare to 4000–5000rpm, which transmits an unattractive thrashy engine note into the cabin. In saying that, engine noise is still pretty well insulated.
Getting up to freeway speeds can take a little longer than desired, too, though once at speed the CVT settles the revs to a quiet hum just below 2000rpm, and the Qashqai is pretty happy at a steady cruise. Just don't try to do a fast overtake because you'll be left wanting a little more poke.
As for the ride and handling, the Qashqai is a bit on the firmer side for a high-riding crossover, likely not helped by those large 19-inch alloys.
Sharper hits can be pretty noticeable, and can send loud thunks into the cabin. With a full car of passengers this can be exacerbated a bit, with a couple of friends complaining about ride comfort over speed humps in the shopping centre carpark.
In town, the Nissan can feel a little jittery over uneven surfaces, though it does settle down a bit on the freeway.
The trade-off for the firmer tune is relatively good handling and body control despite the raised ride height, with the Qashqai bordering on 'sporty' when tackling the bends. There's a good amount of grip and limited body roll, which inspires confidence, though the lack of engine power and slurry CVT detract from driver engagement.
Insulation from wind noise is pretty good despite the tall body and large side mirrors, and tyre noise seems to have improved compared to the N-Tec we tested last year – worth noting the N-Tec rode on Michelin Pilot Sport 4 rubber, whereas the Ti on this test was fitted with Dunlop Sport Maxxs.
We got numerous opportunities to test out the Qashqai's adaptive cruise-control system, which is exclusive to this variant. The technology did a good job at maintaining gaps and slowing down if cars ahead suddenly braked, though it lacks the sophisticated low-speed follow functions of some rival models.
The same goes for the Intelligent Lane Intervention system, which is more lane-departure warning than lane-keep assist.
Fuel economy, meanwhile, was okay for a vehicle of this size. We got an indicated reading of 9.2L/100km from the Qashqai's trip computer, which was achieved over 560km of city and freeway driving. That's quite a bit up on Nissan's official 6.9L/100km combined claim, and spot-on the manufacturer's urban figure despite our mixed conditions.
It's worth noting the Nissan has an abnormally large 65L fuel tank, which would equate to around 700km of driving range based on our indicated readout. With more freeway driving, we reckon you could get 800–900km, too.
Unlike many of its turbocharged competitors, the Qashqai is happy running on cheaper 91RON fuel, meaning you won't pay top dollar at the pump.
In terms of ownership, the Qashqai is now covered by Nissan's new five-year, unlimited-kilometre warranty, with five years of complimentary roadside assistance. If you're an Uber driver or courier, though, the warranty covers for five years/200,000km.
Scheduled maintenance is required every 12 months or 10,000km, whichever comes first. Nissan offers capped-price servicing for the first six visits, which equates to up to 72 months/60,000km depending on which interval you reach first.
CVT models will set you back $226, $309, $236, $435 and $245 for the first five years or 50,000km, with the sixth visit asking for $339. All up, the first 60 months of ownership will set you back $1451, with $32 brake fluid replacement required on top of that every 24 months or 40,000km.
It's worth noting the shorter 10,000km intervals could lead to higher servicing costs if you do high annual mileage, which is worth considering when numerous rivals offer 15,000km between visits.
To conclude, the Nissan Qashqai Ti is a competitive, if not a standout, offering at the upper end of the mainstream small-SUV segment. What it lacks in outright punch it makes up for with cabin tactility and space, bolstered by handsome looks and a decent technology suite.
If you really like the Qashqai but don't want to spend nearly $40,000, we recommend taking a look at the mid-spec ST-L ($32,990), which forgoes things like full-LED lighting and adaptive cruise control, but maintains nifty gadgets like surround cameras and AEB, while riding on smaller wheels that no doubt improve comfort around town.
Listen to more audio below of the 2019 Nissan Qashqai