Nissan Qashqai VS Renault Captur
- Impressive rear legroom
- Big boot
- Good to drive
- A bit pricey
- Acceleration feels sluggish
- Small display screen
- Better looking
- Good engine
- Roomy cabin
- No rear cross-traffic alert on base model
- Hesitant transmission
- Top-spec still has options
It’s lucky cars aren’t as bad as the names they’re given because the Qashqai would be a shocker. Fortunately, the Qashqai is a good small SUV and this latest update has made it even better... and safer.
So, what’s so new about the 2020 Qashqai? What’s good about it and what could still be improved. Finally, there’s something else you should know, and it might make you want to wait longer before you do buy a Qashqai.
|Fuel Type||Regular Unleaded Petrol|
Renault, like its French rival Peugeot, didn't quite nail the first attempt at a compact SUV. The first Captur was a Clio with some ride height and a new body and didn't quite make the cut for Australian buyers. Partly because the original engine was borderline anaemic but secondly, it was really small.
When you're French, you have more work to do in the Australian market. I don't make the rules, which is a shame for a number of reasons but my colleagues seem to think it's better this way.
Anyway, I didn't mind the old Captur but was well aware of its shortcomings. This new one - on paper at least - looks far more promising.
More market-appropriate pricing, more space, a better interior and lots more tech, the second-generation Captur even rolls on a whole new platform, promising more space and better dynamics.
|Engine Type||1.3L turbo|
|Fuel Type||Premium Unleaded Petrol|
The Qashqai is one of Nissan’s best SUVs for the space it offers in such a small package. A good driving experience is short of being great thanks to the CVT auto, and the value could be better.
Now, here’s a spanner in the works for you. A new generation Qashqai isn’t far away, it’s probably about 12 months off and it will have a new look inside and out, have the latest technology, plus we’ll almost certainly see a hybrid version.
If you can hold on, do it, because what’s likely to be an even better Qashqai should be worth the wait. But if you are in market right now, the ST+ is definitely the pick of the bunch. The update has seen it pick up an excellent array of advanced safety equipment.
Note: CarsGuide attended this event as a guest of the manufacturer, with travel and meals provided.
The second-generation Captur's arrival coincides with the brand's transfer to a new distributor and a fiercely competitive market still bruised and battered from a shocking 2020.
It certainly looks the part and is also priced the part. Without a doubt, the mid-spec Zen is the one to go for unless you want the extra electro-trickery available on the Intens, which is quite a lot more expensive.
Setting aside my fondness for French cars, this one looks and feels more competitive in the compact SUV market. If you cover a lot of ground every year - or want the option to do so - you should really take a second look at the servicing structure, too, because in the Captur 30,000km in a year means a single service rather than three in turbo-engined rivals. That might be a bit niche, but even over the life of a car where you average 15,000km per year, it will make a difference.
Another strength of the Qashqai is its good looks – tough, yet pretty, with a rounded snub nose and muscular rear haunches.
No changes to the styling for this 2020 update inside or out, which is a shame because the cabin is beginning to date with the small screen and dash design. Still the interior is stylish with well laid out controls.
As you’d expect, the Ti’s interior is the plushest, with quilted leather seats and the huge sunroof, but even the entry grade ST with the leather clad steering wheel has a premium feel.
How big is the Qashqai? It’s a big-small SUV in that at 4394mm end-to-end it’s 10cm longer than a Honda HR-V and about 2.0cm longer that a Kia Seltos, but about the same width and height as both at 1806mm across and 1595mm tall.
All Qashqai’s come standard with alloy wheels, so no hubcaps here like you’ll see on the entry-grade Seltos.
Telling each Qashqai grade apart is easy once you know the ST doesn’t have foglights, while the ST+ does but doesn’t get the roof rails you’ll see on the ST-L or its 18-inch alloys. The TI can be spotted in the wild by its big 19-inch rims and the sunroof. See? Easy… sort of.
There are seven colours to choose from including 'Magnetic Red' and 'Pearl Black', but only the 'Vivid Blue' (the colour of my car in the video) is the only no-cost hue. The other premium paint colours are $595.
I had to twice check this was the new Captur, but really, it's just the profile that is most like the older car. The new one is a bit bolder and less jacked-up Clio.
The Life and Zen look pretty much the same apart from the Zen's (optional) two-tone paint jobs but the Intens looks pretty classy with its bigger wheels and additional materials changes.
The new interior is a vast improvement over the old one. The plastics are way nicer and they have to be because hardly anyone has plastics as bad as that old car anymore.
The new one has more comfortable seats, too, and I really like the revised dash. It feels much more modern, is better-designed and the little paddle for the audio controls has finally been updated and is way easier to use. It also clears the steering wheel of buttons, which I quite like.
Space and usability are two of the Qashqai’s strengths. For an SUV that is only 4.4m long, and for me at 191cm tall to be able to sit behind my driving position with room to spare is excellent. Headroom back there is good, too, even in the Ti which has a sunroof which eats into the ceiling.
Cabin storage up front is pretty darn good with a large and deep centre console bin, big door pockets and two cup holders; while the rear seats have door bottle holders and a tray in the rear of the front console. The ST-L and Ti come with a fold-down centre armrest in the back with two cupholders.
The 430L boot is one of the largest in the class (Seltos has a 433L cargo capacity). There’s also another large storage level under the boot floor in the Ti.
Getting in and out of the Qashqai is helped by a raised ride height and large doors that open wide.
You get a massive boot to start with - bigger even than the fabled 408 litres of the Honda HR-V. Renault starts you with 422 litres and then adds underfloor storage. When you push the seats forward and include the hidey-hole under the false floor, you end up with 536 litres.
Of course, that sliding will affect rear legroom. When the rear seats are all the way back, this is a lot more comfortable than the old car, with more head and knee room, although it's no match for the Seltos or HR-V in that respect. Not far off, though.
Fold the 60/40 split rear seats down and you have 1275 litres, a not-quite-flat floor and 1.57m long floor space, 11cm more than before.
The French approach to cupholders continues. There are just two in this car, but they are at least useful rather than the frustratingly small ones in the out-going model.
Rear seat passengers don't get cupholders or an armrest, but there are bottle holders in all four doors and - joy of joys - air vents in the back. Bit weird to have no armrest even in the top-spec Intens, though.
Price and features
The entry-point into the Qashqai range is now $27,990 (an increase of $500 over the previous car) and that will get you into the ST with a manual gearbox, while the auto (CVT) is $29,990.
That ST is the only grade which comes with a manual, the rest are all autos with the ST+ listing for $31,990, then the ST-L for $34,000 and at the top-of-the-range is the Ti for $38,490.
A limited-edition N-Sport version sits between the ST-L and Ti and lists for $35,000, but there are only 600 being made.
As for what’s new, that’s simple – Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility is now standard across the range. The ST+ also now has rain sensing wipers and auto headlights. The rest of the new features are safety items which we’ll cover in that section below.
Along with the Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, standard features on the ST include a 7.0-inch screen with rear view camera, front and rear parking sensors, six-speaker stereo, cruise control, cloth seats, push-button start, LED running lights, halogen headlights and 17-inch alloy wheels.
Step up to the ST+ and you’ll gain all the ST’s features plus sat nav, privacy glass, fog lights, and power- folding heated wing mirrors.
The ST-L has all of this, but adds leather and cloth seats, heated front seats, roof rails, and 18-inch alloy wheels.
At the top-of-the-range is the Ti and this grade unlocks more features on top of the ST-L’s including 19-inch alloys, adaptive LED headlights, panoramic sunroof, dual-zone climate control, power adjustable driver and front passenger seat, adaptive cruise control, and leather seats.
The 2020 update also saw a special edition N Sport Qashqai released for a list price of $35,000. The N Sport has all the ST-L's features and adds 19-inch alloys, body-coloured front and rear bumpers with a matt silver trim, side skirts, body-coloured wheelarches, silver mirror caps, black headliner and an N-Sport badge to make sure everybody knows.
Is it good value? Well you can get into an entry-grade Kia Seltos with all the advanced safety features in the Ti for $25,990 drive-away. A Honda HR-V is also more affordable with a start price of $24,990.
I’m afraid the answer to that initial question then is, no. The Qashqai is not good value in comparison to the Seltos or Honda HR-V.
The three-tier range starts at $28,190, before on-road costs, for the Captur Life and comes with 17-inch wheels, a cloth interior, auto headlights, air-conditioning, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto on the 7.0-inch landscape-oriented touchscreen, full LED headlights (that’s a nice touch), front and rear parking sensors, a reversing camera and a space saver spare.
Irritatingly, if you want the extra safety that's standard on the Zen and Intens, you have to spend another $1000 on the 'Peace of Mind' package, which also adds electric folding mirrors and takes you to $29,190, $1600 short of the Zen which has all this and more.
So think carefully about a Life with a package. I would put a modest sum of money on the idea that few people will buy the Life.
Step up to the Zen and for $30,790 you get the extra safety gear, walk-away auto-locking, a heated leather steering wheel, auto wipers, two-tone paint option, climate control, keyless entry and start (with the Renault key card) and wireless phone charging.
Then there's a big jump to the Intens, a whole five grand to $35,790. You get 18-inch wheels, a bigger 9.3-inch touchscreen in portrait mode, sat nav, BOSE sound system, 7.0-inch digital dashboard display, LED interior lighting, 360-degree cameras and leather seats.
The 'Easy Life' package is available on the Intens and adds auto parking, side parking sensors, auto high beam, a bigger 10.25-inch digital dash and frameless rear vision mirror for $2000.
And you can get the 'Orange Signature' package for no bucks. Which adds orange stuff to the interior and deletes the leather, which isn't necessarily a terrible thing. Not because the leather is bad, I just prefer cloth.
The new Renault touchscreens are good and include Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, but I can only speak for the bigger 9.3-inch system which is similar to the Megane's.
You get digital radio on top of AM/FM radio and six speakers (Life, Zen) or nine speakers (Intens).
These prices are more competitive than the older car. That seems fair because there's a lot more in it and prices are inexorably creeping northwards at the other brands.
Missing out of the range is the plug-in hybrid version, which is sad for a couple of reasons.
The first is that first-mover advantage could work in Renault's favour and secondly, its French rival Peugeot is pricing its new 2008 way higher than the Captur, so a PHEV could almost be cheaper - one imagines - than a top-spec, petrol-only 2008.
Engine & trans
All Qashqais have the same engine – it’s a 2.0-litre four-cylinder petrol which makes a reasonable 106kW of power and 200Nm of torque.
As I mentioned in the driving section the engine isn’t at all gutless, I’ve driven SUVs and cars with the same torque and less power with better acceleration. It’s the continuously variable transmission (CVT) in the Qashqai which causes the lackluster acceleration.
You’ll notice this lack of oomph particularly on hills and when you need to overtake. Some carmakers are now producing CVTs which do provide better acceleration, but Nissan’s isn’t one of them.
On the plus side CVTs are good for fuel economy, which is what we’re about to discuss.
All Capturs run the same 1.3-litre four-cylinder turbo-petrol engine delivering a mildly impressive 113kW at 5500rpm and 270Nm at 1800rpm, which should make for some reasonable speed.
Both numbers are slightly higher than the original Captur, with power up by 3.0kW and torque by 20Nm.
Weighing in at a maximum of 1381kg, this enthusiastic engine will push the Captur from 0-100km/h in 8.6 seconds, over half a second quicker than before and a touch quicker than most of its rivals.
Nissan says the Qashqai with its four-cylinder petrol engine and CVT auto will use 6.9L/100km over a combination of open and urban roads. That’s pretty good and better than the ST with its manual gearbox which officially does a best of 7.7L/100km.
Renault says the Captur's 1.3-litre engine will drink premium unleaded (important point, that) at the rate of 6.6L/100km.
That's a more sensible baseline figure than the previous car's sub-6.0 official combined cycle figure and after some web sleuthing appears to be the more accurate WLTP testing number.
As we had the car for a brief time, the 7.5L/100km is probably not representative of real-world fuel use, but it's a good guide nonetheless.
From the 48-litre tank, you should get 600 to 700km between fills. As you might expect, being a European car, it does want premium unleaded.
Here’s why. The ride is comfortable and composed, the steering is accurate and has good feel to it and the handling (for a small affordable SUV) is great.
You’ll like the extra security the height gives you along with the good visibility, and you’ll like the size in terms of ease of parking, too.
What you might notice is that acceleration feels a bit disappointing and you might think the engine is ‘gutless’ for want of a better word. It’s not the engine, it’s something else. Read on to find out.
All Qashqais are front-wheel drive, but a decent 188mm ground clearance means they’ll handle gravel roads without fear of damaging the underside.
The launch of this updated version had us driving on about 50km of gravel and dirt roads, and sure, if the Qashqai had all-wheel drive it would have kept the car from sliding around on the loose rocky surface a bit, but we had no problems with clearance.
The Qashqai's braked towing capacity is 1200kg.
Straight up, I will remind you of my fondness for French cars and the way they go about their business. Renault has been on strong form for some time now in the ride and handling department, even on tiny cars with rear torsion beam suspension.
Where the previous Captur was let down was a common French failing - weak engines that work fine in the European market but don't go down so well in Australia.
Even though I quite liked the old Captur, I got why nobody bought it (relatively speaking). This new one feels good from the second you park your bum in the driver's seat, with good, comfortable support, great vision forward (less so back, but that was the same in the old one) and the steering wheel even has a subtle flattened edge at the top if you have to set the wheel high.
The 1.3-litre turbo is a bit grumbly and gristly on start-up and never really loses a slightly odd, reedy harmonic coming through the firewall, but it's a strong performer for its size and works (mostly) well with the seven-speed dual-clutch.
Renault's old six-speeder was quite good and the seven works just fine except for a slight hesitation from step-off and is sometimes reluctant to kick down.
I blame fuel-saving rather than ham-fisted calibration, because when you punch the weird flower button and switch to Sport mode, the Captur comes good.
With a more aggressive transmission and a slightly livelier throttle, the Captur is much happier in this mode and so was I. The steering is light and direct and there's no real pretence in the suspension for off-road use which is fine by me because it means it's great fun on the road.
It kind of feels like a GT-Line version rather than out of the box standard tune. I don't know if there's a softer version available, but if there is, I'm glad Renault Australia chose this one.
And despite being fun to drive, the ride is almost uniformly excellent. Like any car with torsion beams, it's unsettled by big potholes or those horrible rubber speed bumps, but so is an air-suspended German car.
It's also fairly quiet except when you've got your foot to the floor and even then it's barely an inconvenience rather than a genuine problem.
The Qashqai was awarded the maximum five-star ANCAP rating when it was tested in 2017.
The ST+ has come out well in this update, not only did it score Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, but the amount of standard advanced safety equipment increased, including blind spot warning and rear cross-traffic alert.
While all Qashqais come with AEB as standard the top-of-the-range Ti ALSO picked up AEB with pedestrian detection in the update.
Forward collision warning and lane departure warning ARE also standard on all Qashqais.
For child seats you’ll find two ISOFIX points and three top tether anchor mounts.
A space saver spare wheel in under the boot floor.
You get six airbags, ABS, stability and traction controls, forward AEB (up to 170km/h) with pedestrian and cyclist detection (10-80km/h), a reversing camera, rear parking sensors, forward collision warning, lane departure warning and lane keep assist.
If you want blind spot monitoring and reverse cross-traffic alert on the entry-level, you have to step up to the Zen or pay $1000 for the Peace of Mind package.
Given the marginal rear visibility and the ordinary resolution on the reversing camera, the omission of RCTA is annoying. I know Kia and various other rivals offer the safety as extra, but this is an important feature.
Euro NCAP awarded the Captur a maximum five stars and ANCAP is offering the same rating.
The Qashqai is covered by Nissan’s five-year,/unlimited-kilometre warranty.
Servicing is recommended annually or every 10,000km and is capped at $226 for the first service, $309 for the second, $236 for the third, $435 for the fourth and $245 for the fifth.
Renault sends you home with a five year/unlimited kilometre warranty and a year of roadside assist. Every time you return to a Renault dealer for service, you get a further year, to a maximum of five.
The capped-price servicing runs for five years/150,000km. That suggests you can cover up to a massive 30,000km per year and only have to service it once, which is exactly what Renault reckons you can do. So yeah - service intervals are genuinely set at 12 months/30,000km.
The first three and then fifth services each cost $399, while the fourth is almost double at $789, which is a solid jump.
So, over the five years you'll be paying a total of $2385 for an average of $596 per year. If you do a ton of kilometres, that will really work for you because most turbo-engined cars in this segment have much shorter service intervals, around 10,000km or 15,000km if you're lucky.