Peter Anderson road tests and reviews the 2017 Nissan Qashqai range with specs, fuel consumption and verdict.
Nissan's Qashqai is a rare beast. Not because it's a small SUV - there are plenty of those. Not because it's a Nissan - they sell plenty of these things. It's rare because the first generation, known as Dualis here and in Japan, sold pretty well, but the powers-that-be decided that with the replacement would come the global name - Qashqai. Remember when Toyota wanted to change the Corolla to Auris? Yeah, Toyota Australia knocked that on the head super-quick.
The name change doesn't seem to have dented the Qashqai's popularity, with the Nissan chalking up a steady 1000 cars per month - it's one of the standout successes in the Nissan range.
It also stands out in the small SUV segment - it's the biggest and at the top of the range, the most expensive when you cut out the Germans.
Does it represent good value for the price? What features does it come with?
All of which begs the question, how much? The range of Nissan Qashqai models kicks off at $25,990 for the ST manual and tops out at the $39,990 TL auto.
It's a simple range, with four distinct Qashqai models, two petrols and two diesels.
The petrol-powered ST and Ti models are first and third in the price list. The ST starts at $25,990 for the manual, the CVT auto adding $2500. The Ti starts at $34,490 for the manual and the same cost for auto is added to bring it to $36,990.
You have a choice of eight colours, only two of which - Ivory Pearl (white) and Pearl Black - are standard. You'll have to spend $495 for Ink Blue, Truffle Bronze, Gun Metallic (dark grey), Nightshade (maroon), Magnetic Red or Platinum (silver). Sadly, no psychedelic '70s purple, or orange to tempt the baby boomers. Not even an earthy brown or gold.
On the subject of cashed-up customers, 500-odd bucks isn't not too much for metallic paint, but it's irritating so few colours are 'free.'
The Qashqai is certainly one of the bigger cars in the small SUV class.
There might be four models, but there are three specification levels. The ST has cloth trim, cruise control, air-conditioning, some fake leather bits and pieces, reversing camera, halogen headlights, four speaker stereo and 17-inch alloy wheels.
The TS diesel adds auto headlights, two more speakers for the sound system, keyless entry and start, seat pockets, dual-zone climate control, 'premium' cloth trim and some storage extras over the ST.
Both share the 5.0-inch infotainment touch screen, CD player, AM/FM radio with MP3 player and bluetooth as well as USB connectivity.
The diesels are CVT-auto only, the TS weighing in at $33,990 and the top-of-the-range TL at $39,990.
The Ti petrol ($36,990) and TL diesel add leather seats, a 7.0-inch touchscreen with GPS, further app integration with iPhone and Android devices, heated front seats, electric drivers seat, a massive full length fixed sunroof and 19-inch alloys. There's little in the way of gadgets, the touchscreen software is a bit long in the tooth and is begging for CarPlay/Android Auto.
For a more detailed comparison guide, see our model snapshots.
How practical is the space inside?
The interior is well thought-out, with four cupholders (two front and two rear) and bottle holders in each door for a total of four, although you're restricted to smaller bottles of around 500ml. You could put either a super-dooper-whopper-gulp type cup in the centre console bin as there's a shallow cut-out at the bottom. It's deep, so you might even be able to get a wine bottle in there as long as you don't want to close the lid/armrest.
The boot space is versatile if not gigantic. At 430 litres it seems smaller than the looks suggest but it offers more luggage capacity than most of the rest of the class (HR-V excepted). The boot has two cubby holes behind the taillights with their own stretchy straps and the floor is split into two sections you can lift to hide things beneath or pull out altogether to make the boot a little deeper. It's all fairly intuitive, too. No need to resort to the owners manual here.
If its exterior is deliberately styled to appear bigger than it is, job done.
Additional storage comes in the form of a couple of open slots on the console and beneath the climate controls, a good size glove box (big enough for a hefty owner's manual) and on some models, document pockets in the front seatbacks.
Dropping the rear seats increases the load area but the seatbacks don't sit flush with the boot floor when you've removed the floor pieces - that's a trap for young players. Nissan doesn't quote a figure for the total load volume with the seats down.
Rear legroom is spacious enough for most folks, but the lack of rear air vents is a bit of a blow (sorry). Three kids could cheerfully spend time on the rear bench, but three adults would be a stretch. The Qashqai is a true five seat car where the CX-3 (for instance) is stretching the friendship, with the rear seats more a child-only zone.
The front seats are reasonably comfortable and adjustable but are a little over-stuffed for some backs.
Is there anything interesting about its design?
It's an interesting thing this Qashqai. Many moons ago this would probably have laboured under the designation 'mini-MPV' - it really is more of a large hatchback than it is an SUV because of the way it's proportioned. I'd put a large sum of money on a quick vox pop finding that there is little to link the Nissan to other cars in the segment, at least visually.
Part of the reason it doesn't look like it competes with the CX-3 or ASX or HR-V is because it looks markedly bigger. On the road and from behind the wheel, it looks as though it towers over these cars (it doesn't, there's only a few millimetres in it) and seems like it's from a class above (it's not). So if its exterior is deliberately styled to appear bigger than it is, job done.
What's most clear about this car is that it is beautifully built.
So we've established it looks big but it's worth pointing out that it is in no way overbearing. The Qashqai is very clearly a Nissan design, with obvious links to the other big-seller from the Nissan range, the X Trail.
What's most clear about this car is that it is beautifully built. No squeaks or rattles, no sharp edges and the plastics are a cut above its immediate competition. Panel fit inside and out is exemplary.
The interior looks big in the photos, because for a car this size, it is. Again, the only one of its competitors to come close in terms of dimensions is the HR-V which has more available leg room in the back and a bigger boot.
What are the key stats for the engine and transmission?
The Qashqai comes with a choice of two engine specs and two transmissions. When compared to the competition, engine size is a moot point as they're all around the 1.8 to 2.0-litre mark for petrols and 1.5 or 1.6-litre with similar specs across the segment. Horsepower doesn't seem to be a priority with buyers, so there aren't any outstanding power ratings to tempt you from one to another.
The 2.0-litre petrol four is naturally aspirated and produces 106kW/200Nm. This will motor you along from 0-100km/h in just over 10 seconds. The petrol has a timing chain, so rest easy, you won't have to pay for a cambelt change at any point.
The 1.6-litre four-cylinder turbodiesel produces 96kW and a rather more impressive 320Nm of torque. This adds an easy half-second to the 0-100 acceleration time, coming in at 11.1 seconds. The diesel is automatic only. As with the petrol engine, the diesel (known as R9M, R is for Renault), runs a chain rather than a timing belt, so again, that's one less maintenance worry for long-term owners.
When it comes to reputation for durability and reliability we're not aware of any common faults or specific problems.
With petrol-powered cars, you can choose either a six-speed manual or an auto, which is a continuously variable transmission (CVT) rather than traditional torque converter type found in, say, the Mazda CX-3.
The CVT gearbox is also found in Nissan's own X Trail, while rivals Honda and Toyota favour this type (Toyota's CH-R will join the fray in 2017 with a CVT).
When it comes to reputation for durability and reliability we're not aware of any common faults or specific problems; and that goes for turbo problems, gearbox problems, clutch problems, cruise control problems, diesel problems, injector problems... any problems, really. If anything crops up, you'll find it on our Nissan Qashqai problems page.
How much fuel does it consume?
Nissan claims 7.7L/100km on the combined cycle for the petrol. Our most recent test of the 2.0, a Ti automatic, showed this consumption figure to be fairly optimistic, averaging 11.2L/100km in a good mix of urban, suburban and highway running, admittedly in a hot, damp Sydney summer heatwave.
The Qashqai is almost like an overgrown hatchback.
For the diesel, Nissan says it will return around 4.9L/100km on the combined cycle. The most recent CarsGuide test yielded 8.6L/100km, so it seems you've got to be super-careful to get anywhere near the official figures.
Fuel tank capacity is a generous 65 litres. Based on our fuel economy figures, the petrol will get you around 550km before you have to top up the gas, and the diesel about 720km. Out on the freeway, you'll get a lot further with either engine.
What's it like to drive?
The Qashqai is almost like an overgrown hatchback - with FWD and modest power outputs, it's always going to be most at home in the city. Nissan seems to have a good grip on that concept, because the city is where the car excels.
This car is not about performance figures. Neither the manual or automatic is a speed demon, it's all about smoothness. In the manual you can get it moving your way but the CVT is a little more leisurely - if you want a bit more urgency you have to clunk the selector into manual, remember it's around the 'wrong' way (up is to up a gear) and force the changes yourself. It's a bit awkward, so if you're looking for a quick response, this isn't the car for you.
For the most part, refinement is good.
Front suspension is by McPherson struts, while the rear is a multi-link arrangement. This combination means good ride comfort for both front and rear passengers - most in the class make do with simpler (and cheaper) torsion beams at the back. That rear suspension is one of the reasons you'll pay more for the Qashqai. It's also one of the reasons that on bumpy roads the suspension is quieter, although the other road noise might just be drowning it out.
For the most part, refinement is good - the engine is quiet unless you floor it and on smooth surfaces, the tyres don't make too much racket. Once the surface deteriorates or breaks up, the noise comes with it - coarse roads produce a bit of a roar at the front and you'll hear every stone pinging the underbody, seemingly undamped by any noise-abating plastic skins or sealing.
Steering weight and feel are fine, and the turning circle is a reasonably small 11.17m. You won't get around in a standard suburban street, but a three-point turn won't be a bother either.
The Qashqai's off-road ability is, well, minimal. As there's no all-wheel drive option, what you've got is basically a hefty hatchback - Honda's HR-V is no different in that respect. This is despite a ground clearance of 188mm and Nissan's quoted approach angle of 19 degrees and departure of 28.5.
The explanation for those figures even existing is that other markets do have an all-wheel drive option for the Qashqai. Having said that, Nissan doesn't quote a wading depth, which is probably for the best.
What safety equipment is fitted? What safety rating?
Australian Qashqais come from Nissan's Sunderland plant in the UK and are shipped to Australia with a five star ANCAP safety rating (the maximum available) courtesy of a minimum safety technology package of six SRS airbags, ABS, stability and traction controls, and two ISOFIX points designed for secure attachment of a baby car seat.
As you move up the range, Nissan adds lane departure warning, forward collision warning, blind spot detection and front and rear parking sensors.
The Qashqai was awarded a five star safety rating in July 2014, the maximum score available.
What does it cost to own? What warranty is offered?
Nissan's standard new car warranty runs for three years/100,000km. You can also choose from one of two extended warranty programs. The first is a time-only arrangement of 12, 24 or 36 months, but exceeding 100,000km will invalidate the extension.
You can choose the time and distance option for the same periods but an increase to the kilometre limit to 150,000km since new. An extended warranty also includes an extension to the free roadside assist period.
Nissan also offers capped price servicing which it calls Service Certainty. This means you'll never have to worry about greasy and obscure details like oil type and oil capacity, ever again.
Service costs differ from petrol to diesel but both are to be presented to your dealer every 12 months or 10,000km, whichever comes first.
Servicing on petrol models costs from $224 to $532 over 12 services. Added together it comes to $3684 or $307 per service. Every other service costs $224.
Resale value appears reasonably strong.
Diesel pricing is markedly higher - $4745 for the 12 services, averaging $396 per visit.
You'll also need to factor in $32 for a brake fluid change every 40,000km or two years, meaning another $200-odd over the fixed-price period of six years. There will, of course, be other items that need replacing such as brake pads, tyres etc. that aren't covered.
Diesel servicing costs are significantly higher than the petrol-engined Qashqai while delivering a real world economy figure 3.0L/100km lower than the petrol. Assuming a price difference of about 15c/L over 15,000km, the diesel is $70/year cheaper to fuel but $89 per year more expensive to service. Then there's the $3000 purchase price difference.
Resale value appears reasonably strong. 2014-plated entry-level manual petrol STs are trading for between 54 and 61 percent of their new price, Ti autos between 57 and 64 percent and the TL auto diesel between 57 and 65 percent. Private prices appear to be about 60 to 70 percent of the new car price in 2014. As always, your mileage will vary depending on dealer or private buyer.
All specifications come with a space-saving spare tyre.