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Nissan Qashqai 2020 review: ST+

There's a lot riding on the metal shoulders of the Nissan Qashqai

With the small SUV category one of the most competitive in the new-car market, it’s getting harder for brands to stand out from the growing crowd.

Wading through this mass of vehicles is the Nissan Qashqai, a city-ready SUV that punches well above its weight. But with a new competitor launching almost every day, it will need to keep it that way to stay ahead of the pack.

What sets this unassuming SUV apart from the rest? And more importantly, how will the pint-sized Qashqai handle family taxi duties for the week? My three kids and I had the Qashqai ST+ 2019 for a week to find out. 

 The Nissan Qashqai is a city-ready SUV that punches well above its weight. The Nissan Qashqai is a city-ready SUV that punches well above its weight.

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What does it look like?

Like many small SUVs, the Qashqai closely resembles a high-riding hatchback. It’s easy on the eye, with nicely designed front and rear sections with LED light fittings, touches of chrome and a black grille that helps pump up its road presence. 

Sitting on 17-inch alloy wheels, the side profile is taken straight from the small SUV playbook of design; neat and well-proportioned, and perfect for fitting in with the crowd.  

The Qashqai is neat and well-proportioned. The Qashqai is neat and well-proportioned.

Inside, the straightforward and contemporary design approach continues with no frills hard-wearing cloth and plastics taking centre stage. Premium touches include the modern D-shaped leather-bound wheel, and a dash embossed with subtle matt-grey touches.

The various switch gear, dials and buttons across the dash and steering wheel are well laid out and easy to navigate. Likewise, the driver's binnacle does a good job of presenting vehicle information for drivers to digest at a glance.  

How does it drive?

Its size and engine combination makes for an easy and no frills drive experience. It's powered by a 2.0-litre, four-cylinder engine producing 106kW/200Nm, which, for a car of this size, is ample for bouncing around the city streets and suburbs.  

While the CVT delivers a less-than-thrilling experience under acceleration, it's better than many other cars I’ve tested with this type of transmission.

The ride and handling of the Qashqai ST+ felt well buttoned-down. The ride and handling of the Qashqai ST+ felt well buttoned-down.

The ride and handling of the Qashqai ST+ felt well buttoned-down, and it responded well to steering inputs. Aside from some engine noise and arguments from the kids in the backseat, the cabin was a largely quiet place to spend time.  

After 352km of city and suburban with four of us on board the trip computer displayed a fuel consumption of 8.5L/100km. Slightly more than I'd expected and higher than the claimed/combined consumption of 6.9L/100km. On the plus side, it will happily sip 91RON fuel.

How spacious is it?

For a small car the Qashqai is surprisingly roomy. My kids had plenty of room in the back when sitting behind my driving position (I’m 180cm), with inches of legroom to spare. Same story for the headroom. But while three kids can sit back there comfortably you may be pushing it to fit three adults.   

The 430 litres of boot space was more than enough to swallow the weekly shop, kids gear and scooters over the weekend. Folding the 60/40 rear seats down provides a generous 1598 litres of space – enough for a couple of bikes.

Featuring 430 litres of boot space. Featuring 430 litres of boot space.

How easy is it to use every day?

After living with the Qashqai for a week I now understand the popularity of this segment. In the city it was nimble and sharp to navigate, small enough to fit into hatch-sized parking spots, yet still big enough to provide ample space for the four of us and whatever gear we threw in the boot.

Storage up front is excellent, with big bottle holders in the doors, two cupholders behind the shifter, a hidey-hole trench under the centre stack (with a 12-volt outlet) and a large centre console box.

Conversely, there’s not much on offer for rear seat passengers with pockets on the backs of the front seats and small bottle holders in the doors, but no cupholders or air vents.

The ST + also comes with an impressive suite of parking aids, including a 360-degree view monitor and surround parking sensors with movement detection.

The ST + also comes with an impressive suite of parking aids. The ST + also comes with an impressive suite of parking aids.

 

 

How safe is it?

What’s the tech like?

Good but not great. Standard on the ST + is a 7.0-inch multimedia touchscreen with built-in sat-nav and DAB+ digital radio with a six-speaker stereo system and Nissan’s 'Around View Monitor' 360-degree parking suite. Apple CarPlay and Android Auto is a glaring omission here.

While the touchscreen is easy to navigate the user interface layout and design is starting to show its age versus some its competitors.  

It’s worth mentioning you won’t find the 7.0-inch multimedia touchscreen or parking suite tech on the base Qashqai ST, which comes with a 5.0-inch multimedia system.

Standard on the ST + is a 7.0-inch multimedia touchscreen. Standard on the ST + is a 7.0-inch multimedia touchscreen.

How much does it cost to own?

The ST +, which sits one rung up from the base model ST, is priced at $30,790.

In addition to the tech offering, the ST + brings 17-inch alloy wheels, LED DRLs and tail lights, halogen headlights, privacy glass on the rear windows, power-folding rear-vision mirrors, an electric handbrake and keyless entry with push-button start.

The Ivory Pearl colour our test car came in is included in the price. 


The Wrap

Don't be fooled by its small SUV stature as the Qashqai delivers large on practicality and everyday usability. A capable hauler well suited to small families who prefer a no-frills flavour to their SUVs. Sure to be a crowd pleaser. 

Likes

Practicality
Easy to drive around town
Cabin space

Dislikes

No Apple CarPlay /Android Auto
Old school touchscreen
Even a good CVT is still a CVT

Scores

Dan:

3.7

The Kids:

3.8

$30,790

Based on new car retail price

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