Editor's note on photography: It was a very wet week when we had the 2020 Nissan Qashqai on test. Such is the nature of road testing.
The Nissan Qashqai compact SUV has come in for another update – the second significant running change since 2017, after this generation went on sale in 2014. It’s designed to breathe new life into the Nissan Qashqai until the next model arrives in a couple of years.
All Nissan Qashqai SUVs now come with a digital speedo, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, while the flagship Ti model tested here comes with a more advanced autonomous emergency braking system versus the other models.
The Nissan Qashqai has had mixed success in Australia. Although it ranks among the top-five sellers in a class of almost 20 competitors, its popularity has ebbed and flowed with the fluctuations in its price.
Sometimes the Nissan Qashqai is remarkable value when there are super-sharp drive-away deals, while other times it’s priced out of reach compared to most competitors.
As this article was written, for example, the base-model Nissan Qashqai ST automatic is available on Nissan’s website from $28,990 drive-away, which is $1000 less than the regular price before on-road costs are added. It amounts to a saving of about $4500 off the full RRP.
That price includes a 2.9 per cent interest rate and a guaranteed buyback amount (a little less than half the purchase cost) at the end of a four-year loan with Nissan Finance.
It’s a sharp offer, but one wonders if the savings on the cheapest model were driven by a cancelled fleet order – because the discounts are slimmer on the dearest version of the Nissan Qashqai. Normally, there is a greater profit margin on the most expensive models to enable bigger savings.
And yet, the 2020 Nissan Qashqai Ti tested is currently listed online at $39,990 drive-away, $1500 more than the regular $38,490 price before on-road costs are added – a saving of about $2000 off the full RRP.
This price also includes the offer of a low interest rate and a buyback deal after four years, but it’s unusual to provide a $4500 saving on the base model and about a $2000 saving on the dearest version of the same car.
Price aside, the Nissan Qashqai Ti is a compelling proposition. Nissan has finally filled the voids in technology and safety equipment by fitting a digital speed display, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto as standard across all models. But, with this update, the top of the range also comes with a more advanced autonomous emergency braking (AEB) system (that works up to 60km/h and also detects pedestrians) that could help you avoid a traffic jam fender bender and the inconvenience of an insurance claim.
All Nissan Qashqai models come with AEB, but the Ti can now spot more obstacles across a greater speed range.
Other advanced safety aids on the flagship Nissan Qashqai Ti include lane-keeping assistance, radar cruise control, blind-zone warning, rear cross-traffic alert and 360-degree view camera, and front and rear parking sensors.
The Nissan Qashqai Ti infotainment system has the works: in addition to smartphone connectivity, it has AM//FM/Digital Radio and embedded navigation with traffic alerts. There are two 12V power sockets but only one USB port.
In addition to a sensor key with push-button start, dual-zone air-conditioning and tinted rear windows, the Nissan Qashqai Ti has some features others in this class lack, such as nappa leather seats front and rear and a panoramic sunroof. Both front seats are heated and have power adjustment.
On the plus side, there is the convenience of power-folding mirrors if you happen to park in a narrow street, and the Nissan Qashqai Ti has the convenience of one-touch auto-up and auto-down windows for all four doors. However, oddly, the vanity mirrors in the sun visors are not illuminated, and there’s no power socket or air-conditioning vents for back seat passengers.
The back seats have two ISOFIX child restraint mounting points (one each in the outer two positions), and there are three top tether attachments so you can fit an old-school child seat in the centre position. The rear seat split-folds 60/40, but does not tilt or slide.
The cargo area has 430L of space, which is fairly generous for the class. Under the boot floor is a space-saver spare tyre. It looks like it could be a bit of squeeze to get the 19-inch standard wheel and tyre back in the boot recess should you encounter a puncture.
The Nissan Qashqai Ti is covered by Nissan’s five-year/unlimited-kilometre warranty; service intervals are 10,000km or 12 months, whichever comes first. The annual interval is pretty standard but 10,000km is below average.
Most cars cover at least 15,000km between routine maintenance. Coincidentally, according to Census data, the national average distance travelled by motor vehicles each year is about 15,000km.
Capped-price servicing is available but is on the dearer end of the scale: the first six visits for routine maintenance will cost a total of $1785. The most expensive individual service is $435 at the four-year or 40,000km mark. Owners are not compelled to service within the Nissan network.
On the road
The Nissan Qashqai Ti has an upmarket appearance as soon as you slip behind the wheel. The nappa leather and panoramic sunroof help give it a decent lift from many other small SUVs. The flat-bottom steering wheel adds a sporty flavour, and the overall design of the car inside and out is holding its age well.
Under the bonnet is a fairly perky 2.0-litre four-cylinder engine (106kW/200Nm) paired to a continuously variable automatic transmission (CVT) that drives the front wheels.
Despite being called an SUV, it is better described as a high-riding hatchback.
The engine is happy to run on regular 91 unleaded (unlike many European cars), and the CVT has six pre-determined 'gears' to help it feel like a normal automatic. It does a pretty good job of disguising its origins, but can feel like it's revving higher than might be required when moving from rest. This is a trait of this type of transmission and shouldn’t be too concerning.
I prefer conventional torque converter automatics, but faced with a choice of a car with a CVT or a dual-clutch auto, I prefer the smoothness and lack of delay in the CVT.
The engine and transmission work well together, and while not exactly hush quiet, aren’t particularly noisy by class standards.
The official fuel economy label says the Nissan Qashqai Ti should be able to achieve an average of 6.9L/100km in laboratory conditions. Around town driving gently and with a mix of 80km/h freeway driving, we saw real-world numbers hover around 8–10L/100km, which is par for the course.
Riding on low-profile (255/45R19) Dunlop Sport Maxx RT performance tyres, the Nissan Qashqai Ti grips well in corners. The suspension can feel a touch busy on this rubber, but it’s not uncomfortable and is the compromise for sharp-ish handling. Tyre roar was kept to a minimum except on coarse-chip surfaces.
Despite the sleek window line, over-shoulder visibility is good when on the move or parking. The blind-zone warnings and the sensors in the front and rear bumpers also help.
The driving position is comfortable, and although the back seat is spartan compared to the luxury offered in the front seats, there’s enough room for two adults or three kids.
If you were to fit a child restraint in the back seat, the good news is that you won’t need to lean down too far to get the little one in and out of the car. As with most small SUVs, the Nissan Qashqai Ti sits up high. It also gives you a taller driving position for a better view of the road ahead.
Overall, this is a welcome and worthwhile update to the Nissan Qashqai Ti, and it’s definitely worth a test drive and to be put on your shortlist. Just be sure to shop around on price, because we suspect there is room to move on this particular model.
The Nissan Qashqai Ti still manages to stand out in a field of more than two dozen small SUVs.
Be sure to take it on a decent test drive and compare prices with as many dealers as possible before you sign on the dotted line.