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Hyundai ix35 vs Nissan Qashqai

Hyundai ix35 Elite and Nissan Qashqai Ti

Hyundai's ix35 is on top in the small SUV segment but Stuart Martin finds renewed opposition from Nissan's Dualis replacement, the Qashqai.

value

Hyundai ix35 Elite

from $35,990

The top-spec Elite has 17-inch alloys, touchscreen satnav, USB and Bluetooth six-speaker audio, leather-wrapped steering wheel, keyless entry and start, power-folding heated side mirrors, leather and cloth trim and dual-zone climate control. There's also a five-year unlimited kilometre warranty and capped servicing for three years/45,000km.

Nissan Qashqai Ti

$34,990

The flagship gets plenty - 19-inch alloys, touchscreen satnav, USB and Bluetooth, leather-wrapped helm and seats, heated front seats (driver's power-adjustable), six-speaker audio, auto dual-zone climate control (but no rear vents), 60-40 split second row seating, power-heated mirrors, tinted rear windows and fixed panoramic glass roof. Warranty is three years/100,000km and capped servicing up to six years/120,000km.

design

Hyundai ix35 Elite

Curvaceous and far from bland, the ix35 is one of the better lookers in the segment. Ride height is 165mm so it's no off-roader but has comfortable and easy-to-use interior - 60-40 split-fold rear seats with adjustable backrests (but no rear aircon vents). Well-illuminated 465L cargo area.

Nissan Qashqai Ti

It shares the X-Trail's chassis and the sharp design cues - it works. Cabin is flexible, with good rear passenger room (courtesy of a slightly longer wheelbase) and versatile rear cargo bay of 430L. Not as tall as ix35 yet has a little more road clearance - odd, given it is front-wheel drive only.

technology

Hyundai ix35 Elite

The 2.4-litre four-cylinder (136kW/240Nm) is more potent and thirstier than the base front-driver's 2.0. It claims 9.8L/100km (we posted 12.0L on test), which is thirsty for the segment. Six-speed auto and AWD that locks into a 50-50 split up to 40km/h will please the snow bunnies.

Nissan Qashqai Ti

The 2.0-litre four-cylinder (106kW/200Nm) gets things under way, claiming 6.9L/100km. The constantly variable transmission in the test Ti mimics a conventional auto under load, reverting to normal CVT slurring during gentler driving. Nissan Active Ride control endows firm but compliant ride and good body control.

safety

Hyundai ix35 Elite

When smashed by NCAP in 2010 it ranked five stars thanks to safety kit including dual front, front-side airbags and full-length curtain airbags, auto-door locking, hill descent and hill-start assistance, auto-dimming centre rearvision mirror, auto headlights, rain-sensing wipers, reversing camera and rear parking sensors.

Nissan Qashqai Ti

Fresher design shows - earning five stars in a more recent (and rigorous) NCAP test. Has six airbags, auto-dimming rear view mirror, auto LED headlights and rain-sensing wipers. Excellent pairing of 360-degre view cameras and sensors front and rear enables the driver's warnings for moving object, blind spot and lane departure and the auto-parking. Nissan's cornering brake function aids stability and there is driver attention monitoring.

driving

Hyundai ix35 Elite

Heavier and it feels it. The ix35's ride quality is fine but can't quite match the Nissan's suspension smarts for body roll. All-wheel drive provides some extra capability (although it's hamstrung by average-quality tyres). Bigger boot and full-size spare score for the ix35's usefulness but steering and thirst of the larger powerplant don't.

Nissan Qashqai Ti

Qashqai's sharper chassis and lithe (128kg lighter than ix35) kerb weight apparent. Thanks to clever dampers, it rides with fine compliance. Good body control and occupants have few complaints on noise or seating. CVT endears itself to the driver by not revving the engine maniacally. Clever loadspace and good storage.

Verdict

Hyundai ix35 Elite

Nissan Qashqai Ti

The Hyundai holds up well against newer opposition but the sharply priced and well-equipped Qashqai is poised to take top spot in the highly competitive small SUV segment.