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HomeFEATUREDQASHQAI: EASY ON THE EYE, AND POCKET

QASHQAI: EASY ON THE EYE, AND POCKET

The reason that you will immediately identify the Nissan Qashqai is not by its name or its shape, but because they’ve become so popular in South Africa, that Qashqais can be seen just about everywhere. BERNIE HELLBERG finds out why the Qashqai is such a firm local favourite.

The compact SUV sector is booming at the moment, growing at a faster pace than any other, for three reasons: SUV’s are more practical than hatchbacks, in terms of both size and configuration, and they also have a good dose of style, giving off a fair bit of driveway envy. Then there is the commanding driving position, and as anyone who has driven an SUV will know, there’s a lot to be said for having an unhindered view of the road, and is a more relaxing way to drive, for a start.

LOOKING GOOD

The Qashqai ticks all of the SUV want boxes and brings to market quite a striking design aesthetic too. As well as looking better proportioned than some of its competitors, there are some nice creases and details to the body that give it quite a sculpted shape.

From the front, where the headlights and grille reflect the current Nissan family identity – a chromed ‘V’ that cradles the large Nissan badge – and daytime running light arrows pointing towards the centre, and the road ahead.
The rear manages a nicely cropped rear overhang, and the top-spec Tekna such as our test car, 19” bi-colour alloy rims finish off the stylish look quite nicely.

Being a family-oriented vehicle, the Qashqai interior plays a considerable part in the buying decision, and we’re happy to report that the Qashqai feels spacious and airy, an experience amplified by the vast amounts of glass that let in significant amounts of light. The dashboard strikes a delicate balance between being contemporary yet reserved; there are some subtle curves to the shape, and just the right amount of glossy plastics and brushed aluminium-look dial and vent surrounds. Night-time ambient lighting effects also add a splash of premium appeal that others in the segment don’t quite have.

Seating is generous and supportive, and for this particular unit, Nissan has added the optional Techno Pack (R16,800) with built-in satellite navigation, heated door mirrors, a birds-eye camera system, and Nissan Connect system smartphone integration.

Rear passengers (up to three) have a decent amount of legroom too, and a foldaway false floor beside, the boot offers 430 litres of luggage space with the seats up, 1,585 litres with them folded flat.

FEELING GREAT

Under the hood of our test unit, the 1.5-litre Renault-sourced turbodiesel engine beat its tune at 81 kW and 260 Nm of torque. That’s a mere four kilowatt less than the 1.2-litre turbo petrol offered in other Qashqai models, but with a whopping 70 Nm more twist. Explaining why the oil burner is so popular among buyers and is undoubtedly our preferred power source for the Qashqai.

We tested the 1.5 Tekna with a six-speed manual box, which should be credited for its sharp shifting nature, although gear ratios at the higher end could have been a bit longer to make better use of the massive torque that’s bunched together in the lower rev region.

The Qashqai has always been the keen handler among its rivals, and the upgraded suspension system of the facelifted Qashqai is even more rewarding. There’s good turn in and surprisingly good body control, and deserves praise in the way it copes with the generally uncertain road conditions found in and around Gauteng.

In terms of fuel usage, Nissan claims an average of 4.2-l/100 km in the combined cycle (6.2-l/100 km for the petrol option), although we managed a more realistic 6.7-l/100 km over our week-long test period.

LAST WORD

At its base price of R445,500, the 1.5dCi Tekna Qashqai makes financial sense when compared to rivals; VW’s Tiguan, the Hyundai Tucson, and Peugeot 3008. With comparative power to all but the Frenchie (its 1,998 cc turbodiesel delivers 100 kW and 370 Nm), and high levels of comfort and safety, it’s got to be high on your shopping list right now. For us, the Acenta Plus (R417,900) offers even better value without compromising on looks and options, but we won’t easily look elsewhere for the price.

Report by BERNIE HELLBERG | Images © NISSAN SOUTH AFRICA

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