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Nissan Qashqai 2019 review: ST+

Does the Qashqai still hold up against more recent small SUV entries?
EXPERT RATING
7.3
In the rapidly changing world of small SUVs, can the five-year old Qashqai still keep up?

More and more manufacturers are putting runs on the board with small SUVs. And, if you’re overwhelmed trying to figure out what’s what in the booming segment, there’s a good chance you’re not alone.

See, there are so many small SUVs now, and for better or worse you're faced with a lot of actually very good options.

So, how does Nissan’s long-running Qashqai differentiate itself? Through size, mainly. Despite only mild facelifts throughout its life, the Qashqai continues to be massively popular with buyers thanks to its dimensions, which place it somewhere between a traditionally ‘small’ SUV and what’s now considered a mid-sizer.

That means it slots in-between something like a Mazda CX-3 and larger options, like Toyota’s new RAV4.

Sounds like it could be the perfect size for many buyers. But, five years into its lifecycle, is it still one of the ‘good’ ones? Let’s find out.

Nissan Qashqai 2019: ST+
Safety rating
Engine Type2.0L
Fuel TypeRegular Unleaded Petrol
Fuel Efficiency6.9L/100km
Seating5 seats
Price from$30,790

Does it represent good value for the price? What features does it come with?   7/10

Small SUVs need to get buyers in the door with value offerings. Especially those of the Qashqai’s vintage, which don’t quite have the lustre of more recent entries in the ever-changing segment.

Nissan has adjusted its range once again with the variant reviewed here, the ST +. Sitting one rung up from the base ST, the ST + brings some spec adjustments which range from competitive to lagging behind the competition.

First of all, it’s probably a good time to single out some competitors, at the Qashqai’s unique size, there aren’t too many.

Mitsubishi’s latest effort, the Eclipse Cross is one, and size-wise it also competes with the significantly more expensive Jeep Compass, but you can also pitch it against pricier versions of the Honda HR-V, Mazda CX-3 and Hyundai Kona.

The Qashqai's unique size sets it apart from other small SUVs. (image credit: Tom White) The Qashqai's unique size sets it apart from other small SUVs. (image credit: Tom White)

Perhaps the most challenging aspect of the $30,790 price tag on the ST + is how close it flies to entry-level mid-sizers like the Hyundai Tucson Go ($30,650) and Honda CR-V Vi ($28,290), but not everyone wants something that size, and you’ll be making significant spec sacrifices to step up.

Standard on the ST + are 17-inch alloy wheels, LED DRLs and tail-lights, halogen headlights, a 7.0-inch multimedia touchscreen with built-in sat-nav and DAB+ digital radio (but no Apple CarPlay or Android Auto…), Nissan’s 'Around View Monitor' 360-degree parking suite, a six-speaker stereo system, privacy glass on the rear windows, power-folding rear-vision mirrors, an electric handbrake, and keyless entry with push-start.

It’s a decent spec level, and the upgraded 7.0-inch multimedia touchscreen and parking suite in particular are welcome inclusions over the base car’s less-impressive 5.0-inch multimedia system.

If it were a few years ago, the Qashqai would have a well-equipped cabin. (image credit: Tom White) If it were a few years ago, the Qashqai would have a well-equipped cabin. (image credit: Tom White)

But the Qashqai's really showing its age in the connectivity department with an old-looking user interface and that lack of Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. 

Annoyingly, this is one on a very short list of current models which don’t have auto lights as standard… come on Nissan, it’s 2019.

Other spec inclusions which would be nice at this price include electrically adjustable seats, and I found the halogen headlights to be simply not good enough outside of cities, where spotting an animal further down the road is a matter of safety.

You’ll have to step all the way up to the top-spec Ti ($37,990) to get much better LED headlights.

The halogen headlights don't really cut it on Australia's poorly-lit back roads. (image credit: Tom White) The halogen headlights don't really cut it on Australia's poorly-lit back roads. (image credit: Tom White)

The Qashqai is available in a variety of colours, all of which aside from ‘Vivid Blue’ are $595 options, including our car’s ‘Ivory Pearl’. My advice is to get ‘Vivid Blue’ because it’s the best colour anyway.

Every Qashqai now comes with a decent set of active safety features explored later in this review.

Is there anything interesting about its design?   7/10

The Qashqai’s design has moved at a glacial pace since it first launched in 2014, but in perhaps a testament to its simple, largely timless design, it has aged much better than something like the Mitsubishi ASX.

Nissan has done a great job of using minor, but effective style updates to bring the Qashqai’s front end, rear end and especially interior up to date with modern trends.

Although it is getting on in age, the Qashqai still manages to look contemporary. (image credit: Tom White) Although it is getting on in age, the Qashqai still manages to look contemporary. (image credit: Tom White)

The LED light fittings help with this, as do the carefully applied touches of chrome and black in the grille, around the car’s sides and even in its window frames.

There’s a nice kind of balance to the Qashqai’s proportions when viewed in profile. Perhaps a consequence of its segment-bending size.

You could argue it looks a bit anonymous, but I reckon its better to blend into the crowd tastefully than start to come across as dated, or worse still controversial, as some small SUVs have become.

The Qashqai looks well balanced when viewed in profile. (image credit: Tom White) The Qashqai looks well balanced when viewed in profile. (image credit: Tom White)

Again, not everyone wants the overt style of the Mazda CX-3, post-modern looks of the Hyundai Kona or dated design of the Mitsubishi ASX. For those who want something contemporary but not loud, the Qashqai hits the spot.

Inside the same applies, Nissan has applied tactical and tasteful updates to keep the Qashqai at least approximating the paired-back design trends of 2019.

There aren’t any loud coloured trims or contrasting panel work (as in the Kona) to be found here, just a simple, pragmatic approach that carries from the modern D-shaped and leather-bound wheel, through to the dash which is embossed with subtle matt-grey touches.

The colour scheme is a bit grey-on grey, but it’s a simple design with a focus on space. It’s unfortunately dated a bit by the old-school multimedia centre stack which has the screen embedded inside it, surrounded by gloss blacks and old-fashioned shortcut buttons.

Inside is a little plain, but has dated well thanks to minor updates in the right places. (image credit: Tom White) Inside is a little plain, but has dated well thanks to minor updates in the right places. (image credit: Tom White)

One particular element I’d like to call out is the dash cluster. So simple in its execution, it’s brilliant. There’s no digital dash-cluster or any ultra-modern touches, but it consists of big, legible elements and in the case of the ST +, a large colour TFT screen which shows data readouts like your speed, fuel consumption and range.

The size of the elements makes reading your speed at a glance a cinch. I wish more SUVs had dash clusters like it.

How practical is the space inside?   8/10

The Qashqai’s most defining element is its strong point. Being sized above most small SUVs but below mid-sizers means the Qashqai will be perfectly suited to someone who needs to dart down alleyways but also needs a decent amount of boot space and a back seat to suit adults.

It does both brilliantly, and there are other benefits. Storage for front seat occupants is excellent, with big cupholders in the doors, a phone or wallet sized trench under the centre stack (with a 12-volt outlet), a massive centre console box which I can almost fit my entire arm in (with more power outlets and even clips to manage stray cables) as well as two cupholders behind the shift-knob which can fit large objects.

Nicely designed doorcards are simple, but nice to rest your elbows on. The switchgear is plain, but solidly put together.

There's plenty of storage on offer for front occupants, and solid switchgear for the driver. (image credit: Tom White) There's plenty of storage on offer for front occupants, and solid switchgear for the driver. (image credit: Tom White)

Up the back there’s legroom that’s well above average for the segment. It won’t put larger sedans on notice, but you’ll be able to fit two, maybe even three adults back there with ease.

They’ll also get pockets on the backs of the front seats and small bottle holders in the doors, but in a major let-down for something this size, there are no rear air vents.

There's above-average room for rear seat occupants but no rear air vents is a let-down. (image credit: Tom White) There's above-average room for rear seat occupants but no rear air vents is a let-down. (image credit: Tom White)

Boot space comes in at 430 litres, which threatens some SUVs in the mid-size segment. It’s also a big empty space, void of inconvenient obstructions.

Boot space maxes out at a solid 1598 litres with the 60/40 split rear seat folded, which will be enough to even move some whitegoods.

The Qashqai's boot is massive, making the most of its extra length. (image credit: Tom White) The Qashqai's boot is massive, making the most of its extra length. (image credit: Tom White)

A space-saver spare lives under the boot floor.

If you’re really intent on towing, the Qashqai is capable of dragging a 729kg unbraked trailer or 1200kg braked.

What are the key stats for the engine and transmission?   7/10

All Qashqais are powered by the same 2.0-litre four-cylinder non-turbo engine. It produces an on-par 106kW/200Nm, which isn’t super exciting, but it also isn’t as underpowered as some of its competition.

The Qashqai's engine is a suitable match for it, though there's no potentially fuel-saving turbocharger. (image credit: Tom White) The Qashqai's engine is a suitable match for it, though there's no potentially fuel-saving turbocharger. (image credit: Tom White)

Every Qashqai drives the front wheels only, there’s no all-wheel drive option, and the only auto available is a continuously variable transmission (CVT).

If you’re after all-wheel drive you’ll have to step up to Nissan’s mid-size X-Trail, and more power is on offer from Hyundai’s Kona (130kW/256Nm) or Suzuki’s Torquey Vitara Turbo (103kW/220Nm).

How much fuel does it consume?   7/10

One benefit from the Qashqai’s non-turbo engine is its ability to run on 91RON base-grade unleaded.

The ST + has a claimed/combined fuel consumption rating of 6.9L/100km, against which I scored a reasonable 7.3L/100km over my week of mixed freeway/urban driving.

The ability to run on 91RON unleaded is one benefit of a simpler engine. (image credit: Tom White) The ability to run on 91RON unleaded is one benefit of a simpler engine. (image credit: Tom White)

Surprisingly, this was a lower number than the one produced by the top-spec Ti I reviewed last year (8.2L/100km) so your driving style might impact this number by a litre or two either way.

All Qashqai’s have a 65-litre tank which offers a little more range than most small SUVs which have 45-55L tanks.

What safety equipment is fitted? What safety rating?   8/10

Thankfully, all Qashqais have been updated to have the expected suite of active safety items as standard from the base ST up.

These include auto emergency braking (AEB) with forward collision warning (FCW), and lane departure warning (LDW).

That’s decent, but where the spec ends for even the ST +, you’ll have to step all the way up to the Ti to get blind spot monitoring (BSM), rear cross traffic alert (RCTA), park assist, and lane keep assist (LKAS).

The ST+ scores two important bits of safety tech, but only the Ti gets the full suite. (image credit: Tom White) The ST+ scores two important bits of safety tech, but only the Ti gets the full suite. (image credit: Tom White)

A boost to safety on the ST + is the around view monitor 360-degree parking suite. It uses a series of cameras to offer a top-down view of the car, a feature usually reserved for more premium models and marques.

Given you also get surround parking sensors with movement detection to help you avoid nasty surprises, it’s a welcome bit of kit, and better than what most small and even medium SUVs have to offer at this price.

Nissan's 360-degree parking suite is always a welcome addition on its cars. (image credit: Tom White) Nissan's 360-degree parking suite is always a welcome addition on its cars. (image credit: Tom White)

The Qashqai carries a maximum five-star ANCAP safety rating as of 2017 in which it scored a particularly impressive 36.56/37.

Warranty & Safety Rating

Basic Warranty

5 years / unlimited km warranty

ANCAP Safety Rating

ANCAP logo

What does it cost to own? What warranty is offered?   7/10

Nissan has updated its warranty recently, to bring it in-line with an ever-competitive batch of opponents.

That means five-years and unlimited kilometres of warranty coverage, up from three years. Nissan has a fairly transparent list of what is and is not covered on their warranty page.

Nissan recently upped its warranty to five-years, unlimited kilometres. (image credit: Tom White) Nissan recently upped its warranty to five-years, unlimited kilometres. (image credit: Tom White)

You’ll need to service the Qashqai once a year or every 10,000km. Service prices are capped, costing between $226 and $435 which add up to a yearly average of $357 over the life of the warranty. You’ll also need to change brake fluid every 24 months at a cost of $32.

It adds up to an average-priced program. It would have been nice to see it cost a smidge less given the less complex nature of the engine.

What's it like to drive?   7/10

The Qashqai drives about how you’d expect. But don’t get me wrong, that’s not a bad thing. The engine can be on the thrashy side, but it’s powerful enough and has nice predictable and linear acceleration which won’t offer nasty surprises.

Sure, the CVT gives it a bit of a rubbery feel, with a slight delay, but most won’t be bothered by it. There are competitors with six-speed traditional auto transmissions for those who are really turned off by it.

Otherwise the Qashqai has great fast handling wielded well through the leather bound steering wheels, and suspension which is a little on the stiff side.

I’d say it’s on par with the suspension tune in the Mazda CX-5 or Hyundai Tucson, softer more comfortable tunes are available in Honda’s HR-V or CR-V, and the Mitsubishi Eclipse Cross is perhaps a little softer, too.

The Qashqai is reasonably quiet, helped by the reasonably-sized wheels and soft rubber. The Ti I drove last year was noisier thanks to its slim tyres and huge wheels.

Sensibly-sized alloy wheels = less road noise. (image credit: Tom White) Sensibly-sized alloy wheels = less road noise. (image credit: Tom White)

Visibility is also a strong point. I always felt like I could see plenty out of this car's windows and mirrors, if the multimedia screen was raised up a little

There are more fun small SUVs to drive and more comfortable small SUVs, but the Qashqai hits the nail on the head for the silent majority of consumers looking for something predictable and secure, with enough power for everyday duties.

Verdict

The Qashqai ST + is a jack of all trades, and when you consider some very good competition in this segment, a master of none. It’s this SUV’s unique dimensions which will set it apart for the majority of buyers, and for what it’s worth they’re getting a great car.

For the Qashqai to be truly impressive, Nissan could up the standard spec by including today’s connectivity musts and get rid of those darned halogen headlights.

Does the Qashqai sound like it’s the perfect size for you? Tell us what you think in the comments below.

Pricing Guides

$32,240
Based on Manufacturer's Suggested Retail Price (MSRP)
Lowest Price
$26,490
Highest Price
$37,990

Range and Specs

VehicleSpecsPrice*
N-TEC 2.0L, ULP, CVT AUTO $36,490 2019 Nissan Qashqai 2019 N-TEC Pricing and Specs
N-TEC (5YR) 2.0L, ULP, CVT AUTO $36,790 2019 Nissan Qashqai 2019 N-TEC (5YR) Pricing and Specs
ST 2.0L, ULP, 6 SP MAN $26,490 2019 Nissan Qashqai 2019 ST Pricing and Specs
ST (5YR) 2.0L, ULP, CVT AUTO $29,490 2019 Nissan Qashqai 2019 ST (5YR) Pricing and Specs
EXPERT RATING
7.3
Price and features7
Design7
Practicality8
Engine & trans7
Fuel consumption7
Safety8
Ownership7
Driving7
Tom White
Journalist

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