Nissan Qashqai VS Suzuki S-Cross
- Looks sharper
- Still good to drive
- Standard safety gear
- Still no CarPlay/Android Auto
- Highway tyre noise on the 19-inch wheels
- CVT could be less flarey
- LED headlights
- Easy and fun to drive
- Leather seats
- That face
- No AEB
- Same engine as the base grade
Nissan's Qashqai has achieved something remarkable. After enduring a name change for its second generation (it used to be called Dualis), it has maintained its strong popularity among Australian buyers who are switching en masse to SUVs.
The compact SUV market is becoming increasingly crowded - the Dualis had few competitors on its release but today's Qashqai has 27 of them. The Nissan has seemingly brushed off all-comers, consistently and persistently battling with the Mitsubishi ASX, Mazda CX-3 and Honda HR-V.
It's mid-life update has arrived and as night follows day, MY18 supercedes MY17, with new additions to the safety list, a farewell to diesel power and a detail-focussed update to the range.
|Fuel Type||Regular Unleaded Petrol|
Suzuki is a well-known brand that makes some of Australia’s favourite cars. There’s the Vitara, the Swift, and the Jimny, but what the heck is an S-Cross?
So, has this forgotten Suzuki missed out on the ‘magic dust’ the Japanese brand seems to sprinkle on many of its cars to make them pleasantly surprising to drive?
I found out when one came to live with my family for a week.
|Engine Type||1.4L turbo|
|Fuel Type||Premium Unleaded Petrol|
The Qashqai's MY18 update is subtle but effective. It had a good base to start with, so it was all about detailed improvements. Ride and handling are better, it looks a bit more modern, the safety gear is improved and the exit of the diesel won't upset too many people.
As for which Qashqai is best, it's probably the ST-L - a good mix of spec and price make it our pick. As a range, it's likely the Qashqai will continue to sell as well as it has, despite stiffening competition. It has a solid reputation, well-judged spec and it can carry people and things in comfort and reasonable style.
The Qashqai's mid-life update is upon us - does it keep it in the hunt as pressure builds from Japan, Korea and Germany?
I thought I didn’t really understand the S-Cross. Was it an SUV or just a tall car? How can it exist in a line-up where the Vitara can already do the same job really well? Why does it still wear an SX4 badge? Why does it have that face? The answers are pretty obvious to me now – it fits nicely into that zone of having the high driving position of an SUV without being a thirsty little off-roader, yet still offers the space and practicality of one.
Combine that with being enjoyable and easy to drive and it’s hard to understand why sales of it aren’t as high as they should be. Maybe it’s that face? As for the SX4 badge, I’m waiting to hear back from Suzuki on that one.
Is Suzuki a brand that excites you, or just not on your radar? Tell us why in the comments section below.
The exterior design has been left largely alone, with just a small amount of surgery to bring it up to date with current Nissan thinking. There's a new iteration of the 'V Motion' grille, revised headlights and more interesting bumper designs front and rear.
The cabin is largely the same - beautifully built, most of the materials are pleasant to the touch if not exactly an aesthete's delight. Everything is well laid-out, the dash is clear and the switchgear all perfectly pleasant.
The space is well proportioned, too and with the big sunroof, flooded with light, so it doesn't feel the slightest bit tight or claustrophobic, quite a feat in a car this size.
I like quirky-looking cars, but the styling of the S-Cross, in places, challenges even me. I’m talking about that gleaming grille, which looks like a big, shiny metal mouth full of teeth (even though its plastic).
Then there are those is-it-an-SUV-or-not looks. The answer is in the name: the S-Cross is a crossover between a hatchback and an SUV. It’s not offensive looking by any means, if anything the S-Cross is quite stately and premium in style – it’s just that face I have trouble moving past.
What’s the SX4 badge doing on the back? Well it’s a mystery. The S-Cross used to be called the SX4, but Suzuki kept the badge, even after it renamed the car. Strange but true. Interestingly, the same SX4 and S-Cross double badge is also worn by the car in Italy, but not India. That bit of dinner-party ammo will be sure to impress your friends. Also interesting is that the S-Cross is front-wheel-drive only – despite what SX4 might suggest.
What are the S-Cross’s dimensions? It’s not big, at 4300mm long, 1785mm wide and 1585mm tall. That fairly diminutive size made the S-Cross easy to park in city streets and also hassle free to pilot in tight laneways.
Rear legroom is good, with enough room behind my driving position for folks of up to 185cm. There is tons of headroom front and rear even with the panoramic sunroof of the higher model spec. The interior dimensions mean four adults can cheerfully fit, with its light airy design (evident in the photos) made even brighter if you've got the full-length sunroof open.
Cabin storage includes up to four cupholders (ST and ST-L miss out on a rear armrest, so no vessel holding back there) and four bottle holders. The glove box easily swallows the owners manual.
The Qashaqi's boot space is nearly number one in its class, bettered only by Honda's HR-V. With 430 litres, it has the luggage capacity for a family getaway and the size for every day needs such as shopping or carrying the kids and their gear around.
Drop the 60/40 split fold back seats and you're in dangerous territory if you live near an Ikea - the space almost triples to 1596 litres and somehow people put these two facts together and your weekends are lost - although I guess it depends how much you like helping people.
Small on the outside, pretty big on the inside. That is one of the S-Cross’s strong points. Even at 191cm tall I can sit behind my driving position with about 20mm of space between my knees and the seatback. Head room back there is getting a little tight for me, though.
The S-Cross is a five-seater but being in the middle in the back isn’t the best seat in the house – then again, I’ve yet to review a single car where it is.
The cargo capacity of the boot in the S-Cross is an excellent 430 litres with under floor storage and two side wells to pop small items that might be wet or things you don’t want to roll around. With the rear seats down that expands to 875 litres to the window line or 1269 litres to the roof.
Cabin storage in the S-Cross Turbo Prestige is great with two cupholders in the fold-down rear armrest and another two up front. There’s a deep centre-console bin with a USB port, another deep bucket in front of the shifter housing a 12V outlet; and big bottle holders in the doors.
Price and features
The MY18's launch will see four Nissan Qashqai models on the price list: the ST, ST-L, N-TEC and Ti. The N-TEC will be with us throughout early 2018 when the advanced safety technology of the Ti becomes available. The current plan is that the N-TEC will disappear when that happens.
The 2018 Qashqai introduces a number of new features as standard across the range. All of them now have forward collision warning, auto emergency braking and lane departure warning. These are in addition to front and rear parking sensors and the reversing camera carried over from the 2017 models.
Pricing hasn't moved very much, meaning how much you pay for a Qashqai has only changed due to the new spec level and the end of the diesel models. The ST is up by $500, the ST-L and N-TEC don't really have obvious counterparts given the demise of the diesel and the petrol Ti is $1000 more. Having said that, the ST-L is $1000 cheaper than the old TS.
Pricing for the ST range opener kicks off at $26,490 for the manual and $28,990 for the CVT auto. Rolling on 17-inch alloys, the ST has a six-speaker stereo, cruise control, cloth trim, keyless entry and start, air-conditioning and a space saver spare tyre.
The ST's sound system is powered by a 5.0-inch touchscreen and features an AM/FM radio, CD player, MP3 player and you can connect your iPhone or Android device via USB or Bluetooth. Sadly - and this goes for the whole range - there is not yet Apple CarPlay or Android Auto support.
Next up is the ST-L, starting at $32,990. On top of the ST spec you'll get 18-inch alloys, roof rails, fog lights, electric and heated folding mirrors, GPS sat nav, partial leather seats, heated seats, electric drivers seat and around-view cameras (as well as the normal reversing camera).
The infotainment screen is pumped up to 7.0-inches and DAB+ digital radio joins the list.
The gadgets list expands with the N-TEC, which will stick around until the Ti's arrival. Priced from $36,490, this one includes 19-inch alloys with fatter tyres, LED headlights (in addition to the LED daytime running lights), dual-zone climate control to replace the standard AC, auto headlights and wipers, panoramic sunroof, rear centre armrest, auto parking and mood lighting. The safety list expands with blind spot monitoring, high beam assist and reverse cross traffic alert.
The $37,990 top of the range Ti will land sometime before the middle of 2018. Compared with the N-TEC, the Ti is basically the same but adds nappa leather interior, lane keep assist and active cruise control.
Should the N-TEC be wildly successful, would it stick around? We asked, but Nissan wouldn't speculate. The reason for the Ti's late arrival is related to production availabilty of the lane keep assist and active cruise combination.
As for the colour choices, there are now eight colours for the Qashqai. As before, 'Ivory Pearl' (white) and 'Pearl Black' are no extra cost. The remaining colours - 'Platinum' (a light grey silver), 'Gun Metallic' (dark grey), 'Night Shade' (a sort of purple blue) and 'Magnetic Red' all cost $495. The new 'Vivid Blue', which is exactly what it sounds like, is new to the range and is also $495.
Those looking for more exotic colours like orange or gold will sadly miss out and the earthy tones of brown are also unavailable.
For a more detailed comparison, see our model snapshots.
The Suzuki S-Cross comes in two grades: the entry-level Turbo for $27,990 and the top-of-the-range Turbo Prestige, which we tested, that lists for $29,990.
Turbo Prestige; sounds fast and fancy. So, is it worth parting with $2K more, and what’s prestige about it?
Two grand is a lot at this price point, and seeing as you get the same engine, same safety and same in-car tech in both grades, it's fair to say that if spending the extra dough for the Turbo Prestige is going to break the budget, you shouldn't fret.
That said, there are three good reasons for stepping up to the Turbo Prestige: rear parking sensors, auto LED headlights and leather seats. There are also the 17-inch polished alloy wheels, daytime running lights and rain-sensing wipers as part of the step up.
Other standard features on the Turbo Prestige include a touchscreen with sat nav, Apple CarPlay, a six-speaker stereo, Bluetooth connectivity, dual-zone climate control and roof rails. Those features, by the way, are all standard on the Turbo, too.
Either way, the S-Cross is good value regardless of which of the two grades you buy.
Engine & trans
The petrol vs diesel decision is no longer part of the equation - as President Trump might say, diesel's ratings were low, with just under 10 percent of cars sold drinking the DERV.
Despite its availability in overseas markets, all-wheel drive is not available in Australia, perhaps because of the X-Trail's popularity (and close relationship to the Qashqai).
The only available engine is Nissan's 2.0-litre naturally-aspirated petrol developing 106kW/200Nm. This neatly side-steps any turbo problems as it's a fairly straightforward sort of engine. As far as engine size goes, it is consistent with its Mazda rival, the CX-3 which also runs a 2.0-litre petrol.
The manual gearbox is a six-speed (just three percent of buyers choose to change their own gears) and mated to the same (MR20DD) engine. For those interested, this engine employs a chain rather than timing belt.
For CVT-equipped cars, the towing capacity is 1200kg for a braked trailer and a very specific 729kg for unbraked, so you can haul a decent load.
As with 4 wheel drive, an LP gas fuelled Qashqai is also a non-starter from the factory.
Engine specs across the segment aren't remarkably different - some are smaller turbo engines, but most around the 1.8 to 2.0-litre mark. The Qashqai's acceleration performance figures for the 0-100km/h dash are around ten seconds (CVT). Kerb weight ranges from 1343kg for the manual ST to 1429kg for the Ti.
Oil capacity is 3.8 litres and the recommended oil type is 5W-30.
The S-Cross Turbo Prestige has a 1.4-litre turbo-petrol engine making 103kW and 220Nm, which is a decent amount of mumbo for a sedate-looking car like this.
That’s the only engine on offer for the entire S-Cross range, so don’t think you’re getting more grunt just by steeping up to the king-of-the-castle Turbo Prestige. Likewise, the six-speed automatic is shared across both grades and while it isn’t spectacularly sporty, it’s a million times better than any personality-free CVT automatic that other car companies tend to put in SUVs like this.
The offical combined cycle fuel economy figure for the 2.0-litre are 7.7L/100km for the manual and 6.9L/100km for the CVT. On test, which was partly highway and a good chunk of Victorian back roads, our fuel consumption figure was a neat 8.0L/100km.
Fuel tank capacity is 65 litres.
After 177km I measured the S-Cross Turbo Prestige’s fuel consumption at the petrol station and found its mileage to be 7.3L/100km. Not bad considering that while some of that was free-flowing motorways, there were many slow kilometres of peak-hour traffic in there, too.
The Qashqai has always been near the top of the class when it comes to ride and handling if not quite there for off-road ability - front-wheel drive and the absence of hill descent control pretty much nixes any muddy fun ambitions. Nissan doesn't quote a wading depth, so that should also tell you it's not for rock-hopping.
Front suspension is by McPherson struts while the rear is a multi-link set-up, something you expect from the next segment up. The MY18 features firmer springs, retuned damping and stiffer anti-roll bars. Out on the flowing country roads outside Daylesford, the new set-up wasn't remarkably different to the old, but the body felt slightly better-controlled without ruining the excellent ride.
On 18-inch wheels, road noise seems lower. Part of that comes from additional sound-deadening and some thicker glass in the rear. The wing mirrors still whistle faintly, but it's nothing the stereo can't handle, and you'll really only hear it at speed.
Switch to the 19s as fitted to the N-TEC (and Ti), and all those efforts seem defeated - there's some tyre roar at highway speeds, attributable to both the lower profile of the tyres and their extra width. The ride doesn't seem to suffer though, and it's a pleasant place to be in suburban and city traffic, soaking up the bumps quietly and smoothly.
Unladen ground clearance measures 186mm, which is among the higher-riders in the class and it was quite at home on a deeply-potholed back road. It was perhaps a little firmer than expected over the gravel, but the surface was very poorly-maintained and resembled the Ypres battlefield. Despite only driving the front wheels, it felt secure, the torque vectoring system helping keep it on the straight and narrow. The turning circle is usable if not tight at 10.7 metres.
It rides well, but what's the engine like? I won't lie, I'd like a bit more horsepower, but in a drag race, the Qashqai is going to be pretty much neck and neck with most of the cars in the segment.
In the cruise it's a quiet engine and the CVT keeps the revs low until you floor it for an overtake, which you will need to do. Then the engine winds up with the CVT keeping it on the boil to make the most of engine specs. Around town both engine and gearbox are unobtrusive.
If cars looked as good as they drove, the S-Cross would be a lot sexier to look at. The engine, the transmission, the balance and feel are far better in the S-Cross than you’d expect or hope for in a car from this segment. Don’t get too excited, it’s no sportscar or limo, just more of a pleasant surprise.
Good visibility through those large windows and a high driving position made the S-Cross easy to pilot through carparks and in traffic. Comfortable, supportive seats, great pedal feel from the brakes underneath my foot, a responsive engine with good torque, plus steering with great feel complete a package that pleased this tester.
That said, I’m not giving it an eight out of 10, because a score like that is reserved for something approaching superb on-road performance.
All Qashqais leave the Sunderland UK factory with at least six SRS airbags, ABS, stability and traction controls, forward collision warning, reversing camera, forward auto emergency braking, front and rear parking sensors and lane departure warning.
You can fit a baby car seat for your child using either one of the three top-tether anchor points or two ISOFIX points.
ST-L buyers pick up around-view cameras with moving object detection.
The N-TEC adds to the safety list with rear cross traffic alert, blind spot warning, park assist and drowsiness detection. Finally, the Ti's specifications include 'Intelligent Lane Intervention', which helps keep you in your lane if you drift towards the edge.
The safety rating is five ANCAP stars, regardless of model. It was last tested in 2014.
The S-Cross received the maximum five-star ANCAP rating when it was tested in, wait for it… 2013. It’s now 2019 and there’s no way the S-Cross would be given that score now. I’m not saying it’s unsafe - far from it - all the S-Cross is now missing is the advanced safety equipment which has become part of the essential criteria of attaining that maximum score in 2019. I’m talking about auto emergency braking (AEB) with pedestrian and cyclist detection and other systems such as blind-spot warning and rear cross-traffic alert.
That said, the S-Cross has seven airbags, plus ABS, traction and stability control. Just keep in mind that there are other cars for this price with more advanced safety tech.
I trusted the S-Cross with my own child’s life without any hesitation, and you can, too, with three top-tether points and two ISOFIX mounts across the second row for child and baby seats.
Nissan offers a three year/100,000km warranty and your dealer will almost certainly try and flog you an extended warranty.
Those worried about service costs will be pleased to note that the MY18 Qasqhai capped price servicing regime is the same price as the previous year's. Service intervals remain at 12 months or 10,000km, with service prices bouncing around from $224 to $532 and averaging $307 over 12 services.
The Qashqai's resale value appears to be performing well and is as good as any in the compact SUV class. A good guide is to expect around 60 percent of the car's value to be retained over three years.
Owners seem to score it well for reliability, with few common faults reported. Searching for gearbox problems, clutch problems, cruise control problems or injector problems produce few results. As there is no longer a diesel option, searching for diesel problems is redundant.
Suzuki automatically covers the S-Cross with a three-year/100,000km warranty, but if you service it every six months for five years with the capped-price program, you’ll be eligible for a five-year/140,000km warranty. Check with your dealer regarding the ins and outs of this, however.
According to Suzuki, you can expect to pay $175 each time for the first three services (at six months/10,000km intervals) then $359 for the next, then $175 for the 30-month service.