Nissan Qashqai 2018 review
After enduring a name change for its second generation (it used to be called Dualis), Nissan's Qashqai has maintained its strong popularity among Australian buyers who are switching en masse to SUVs.
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You can't stand still in this world. If you're Holden's product planning team, you've got an ever-changing range. One minute you're dealing with GM's European outpost, planning for your import-only future and pinning your nameplate to the rump of a big five-door Euro hatchback and calling it Commodore. It's a risk. And then the parent company goes and sells that European outpost to the French giant PSA.
While all that's going on, you've got the fiercely competitive SUV segments to deal with. Captiva is older than most of the people driving it (okay, that's not quite fair...), the Colorado/Trailblazer is an acquired taste and then you've got Trax. Take a look at your numbers and, by golly, it's doing okay despite looking a bit boxy and awkward.
Thankfully, it hasn't been bought by the French or saddled with a terrible specification. In fact, in 2016, the Trax received a fetching facelift inside and out. It's made in Korea by a GM-owned division and only the absolute bottom of the range is stuck with the asthmatic 1.8-litre auto.
|Holden Trax 2018: LT|
|Engine Type||1.4L turbo|
|Fuel Type||Regular Unleaded Petrol|
The Trax is a weird car. Based as it is on a light hatchback, GM's engineers took what they had and jacked up the body but seemingly left everything else where it was. Despite looking like a high rider, the Trax isn't actually that much higher than the Barina, with a very low bumper covering up the fact that the engine and its ancillaries aren't much higher. It also means the Trax is quite individual looking and I quite like that.
The facelift the Trax scored late in 2016 vastly improved the look, inside and out. The sleeker headlights, daytime running lights and better grille made the car look less toy-like and a bit more serious. The new double-stack grille with better detailing lower down also make it look bigger while not completely turfing the chunky look of the original design.
Inside is a huge improvement. Sharing as it did the Barina's cutesy dashboard layout, it was fun but a bit hard to live with day to day, despite a clear and easy to read digital display. It just looked cheap and liable to detach. The new interior is far more integrated, with a traditional binnacle for the instrument pack and a more 'normal' dash design. It is an improvement but I can't help wondering if the old layout was made of better materials and colours, it could have continued and and made the Trax stand out more.
The Trax has a big boot only if you're comparing it with a CX-3, starting at 356 litres with the rear seats in place and 785 when they're folded away. The folding action also requires flipping the seat bases forward and returning everything to passenger mode means fishing out the seat-belt anchors.
There are plenty of cupholders, six in total, with four in front and two in the rear centre armrest. The front doors also have a slim lower pocket as well as a high-set slot for a phone, but that's only good for the smaller format smartphones.
The rear seats are on the upright side, but for two passengers there is good head and legroom, even with the sunroof.
The Trax LT occupies the middle ground between the top-spec (and frankly weird) LTZ and the entry-level LS. Based on the bargain basement Barina, it's part of the ever-crazier battlefield that is the compact SUV market and costs $28,890, or about a tenner less than CX-3 sTouring.
The six-speed auto LT (there is no manual) comes with 18-inch alloys, a six speaker stereo with 7.0-inch touchscreen and DAB, air-conditioning, reversing camera, cruise control, keyless entry and start, synthetic leather trim, auto headlights, electric sunroof, power windows and mirrors and the never not-weird 220V power outlet in the back.
Holden's 'MyLink' looks after the entertainment duties and is equipped with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, a feat few others in the space can manage (Hyundai's new Kona is distinctive as a result). The system is not as good looking as it used to be, but works very well even without the smartphone integration, with a choice of Bluetooth or USB.
The only available factory option is premium paint which weighs in at a hefty $550. That's class-competitive until you see the CX-3 only charges $350 for its premium colours.
The Trax LT comes with a six-speed automatic transmission and a 1.4-litre turbo four-cylinder producing 103kW/200Nm. These figures are pretty much the same as everything else in the class, as though required by legislation (they're not).
The Trax is also resolutely front-wheel drive, with no all-wheel drive option available.
Towing capacity is rated at 500kg unbraked and 1200kg braked.
Holden's offical combined cycle figure suggests the Trax will consume premium unleaded at the rate of 6.7L/100km, but as with previous outings, we couldn't get it much below 10.0L/100km. The Trax does without energy recovery or stop-start cleverness to reduce consumption.
The Trax's humble undercarriage, and no doubt cheap-ish development, has brought a number of compromises. Lifting the floor and the seating position has resulted in a fairly awkward legs-akimbo driving position for me, at 179cm. My wife, who has shorter legs and is about 8cm shorter, despises it. The pedals are too close and it's less easy than it should be to switch between the pedals, placed as they are at completely different heights.
Passengers will enjoy the good view out, but the Trax is a bit of a lumpy ride for back seat passengers, with plenty of bumping and thunking from beneath. Around corners the Trax likes to lean a bit, but hang on because it never gets too bad. It certainly never feels unsafe, even during the unscheduled swerve manoeuvre I had to make one morning on the school run.
That aside, the Trax is a fairly inoffensive drive. The six-speeder can be a bit jerky on the upshift, but that's usually when you've got your foot flat. The 1.4-litre turbo is a fine little unit, although its reliance on premium unleaded is a bit disappointing. It's also not particularly quiet when pushed, but certainly doesn't spoil the overall pricture.
3 years / 100,000 km warranty
ANCAP Safety Rating
The Trax has six airbags, ABS, stability and traction controls, three top-tether anchorages and brake assist.
The Trax scored five ANCAP stars in August 2013 when the first-generation launched. Irritatingly, you can't even option the LTZ's small collection of more advanced safety options which includes reverse cross traffic alert and blind spot monitoring. In this class, if you don't have AEB, even as an option, you're in a shrinking minority.
At the time of writing the Trax came with a seven-year/175,000km warranty, a big jump from the usual three-year/100,000km to which the offer will revert at the end of 2017. Roadside assist is offered for an initial twelve months and then extended at every service performed at a Holden dealer.
Servicing intervals for the Trax are nine months/15,000km. Lifetime capped price servicing applies, starting at $249 for the first two, jumping to $429 for the third service and then bouncing around between $249 and $399 until the seventh service.
The Trax's real problem is that it is outclassed by the rest of the segment, all of them much newer or just better to begin with. Where the LT shines is difficult to pinpoint, although it is good looking and comfortable, which is enough for a lot of people. It isn't especially well-priced or equipped (apart from Apple CarPlay/Android Auto) and is missing out on what are rapidly becoming basic safety features, such as AEB.
And it's not all that cheap - a similarly-priced CX-3 or Kona or C-HR is a better buy for a number of reasons, not the least of which is refinement and quality. While the Trax is probably around for the long-haul, it needs to be better if it isn't to be left behind.
|LS||1.8L, ULP, 5 SP MAN||$14,400 – 20,240||2018 Holden Trax 2018 LS Pricing and Specs|
|LS (5YR)||1.4L, ULP, 6 SP AUTO||$13,600 – 19,690||2018 Holden Trax 2018 LS (5YR) Pricing and Specs|
|LT||1.4L, ULP, 6 SP AUTO||$14,700 – 20,680||2018 Holden Trax 2018 LT Pricing and Specs|
|LT (5YR)||1.4L, ULP, 6 SP AUTO||$16,900 – 23,540||2018 Holden Trax 2018 LT (5YR) Pricing and Specs|
|Price and features||7|
|Engine & trans||7|