Nissan Qashqai continues where Dualis left off, and is Nissan’s small SUV in a segment that is rapidly expanding segment that includes LCVs like pickups and utes.

SUVs are up 10.9%, and LCVs 20.3% in a market that is up 4.3% on this time last year. In fact, 3 of the top 5 bet sellers were SUV/LCV vehicles, so it is vital that new models have to get it right.

Qashqai has done that, and done it well. Nissan’s range is almost exclusively SUV/LCV cars now. They’re seen the writing on the wall.

So, now confined to strictly to road duties, SUV offerings have broadened their appeal, and can even do a little light towing.

There are 3 models in the Qashqai range, ST, ST-L and N-TEC.

The refresh sees the front completely redesigned with new lights, bumpers and grille. The interior has new fabrics and some new tech. Midlife updates are common, and usually sees advancements of the previous few years included.

It is odd then, that Apple CarPlay/Android Auto was missed.

Nissan’s new MD, Mark Lester, has the job of improving sales. He will be the one to make sure the product managers cram as much as possible into every car.

We reviewed the car at its Australian launch HERE.

Exterior

The new model retains the chunky SUV shape of the old model, while adding features to keep the range fresh, and more important, relevant.

The exterior gets halogen headlights, LED DTRLs (daytime running lights), and LED tail lights. There is a new range of wheels, with the ST-L having 18” in a double-5-spoke design.

The side profile has a coupe-like look, with the waist line kicking up over the muscular rear quarter. Back seat and cargo area windows are darkened for privacy in a style you’d expect in a posh limo.

Nissan is trying to widen appeal as the top ten auto makers jostle for position. Although the Japanese manufacturers enjoy premium position amongst the Asian countries, the Koreans are ones to watch.

Lights wrap generously around front and rear to illuminate the car from the side for safety. It has given the front end a real lift.

Ground clearance is a modest 186mm, so this small SUV is restricted to road duties only.

Since most SUVs never leave tarmac, that won’t be a problem. Besides, front wheel drive lends itself nicely to commuting and highway work.

Body-coloured door handles have external locking pads for the smart entry/start system. Front doors can be locked and unlocked without having to use the key fob.

The look is meant to broaden the appeal. Changes are not as haphazard as some might think.

Interior

The cabin is spacious, and feels light and airy. It isn’t quite a ballroom, but you could swing a very small cat. For the record, I’m not suggesting that you should try of course.

Most of the plastic is good quality, with soft feel material used on light wear areas. Harder wearing material is used on parts of the interior that get more knocks.

The centre stack houses a 7” touch screen, and manual air conditioning controls, surrounded by a neat piano black bezel. The design is crisp and uncluttered with most of the function split between the infotainment system, and setting controls on the steering wheel.

Some of the trim is metalised plastic, which like the piano black, will scratch easily, but since all manufacturers are doing that look, you might need to use a little extra caution.

The steering wheel has a ‘sporty flat bottom” and auxiliary controls for infotainment and cruise control. The simple layout makes them easy to use, with each button being raised of sloped. You need not take your eyes off the road once you know the layout.

Vents are well placed to direct air exactly where desired. There is nothing worse than blasts of frosty air snap freezing your fingers.

The start button is on the dash behind the wheel, and all buttons and controls are easily reached without having to strain. It is important to get the driving position just right.

Al 4 doors have automatic function for the windows, so a single push is all that’s needed to operate them. It’s just the thing you need when you’re in a rush at a carpark boom gate.

Seats have new upholstery, with a mix of fabric and leather on the ST-L. Padding is not quite as sumptuous as in X-Trail, but manages to be fairly comfortable none the less. Even better, it looks good.

Seat heating is handy, but may not get much of a flogging in Australia.

I was able to get the perfect driving position with enough adjustment on both seat and wheel to be high enough, but close enough to the controls so as to be easy to use. I can’t count the number of times that I just can’t get the placement just so.

Surprisingly, there are no automatic wipers or lights on ST-L, nor is there Apple Carplay/Android Auto. Music streaming is by conventional USB and Bluetooth. Pairing is very easy with the system guiding you through the simple process.

Sound via the standard speakers is good. In the days of premium audio systems, even entry level cars have sound worthy of note.

The design is neat and tidy, but lacks the flare of the French, or the manic attention to detail of the Germans. Of course, it is cheaper than either of those offerings.

TOP TIP: To get the perfect position, set the seat to the height you want, and make the steering wheel a comfortable height. Move it in or out so that when you lay your wrists on the top of the wheel, your shoulders are on the seat back.

It will be right every time.

Features

  • 7” colour touch screen
  • Satellite Navigation
  • Fog lights
  • Advanced Driver’s Instrument Display
  • Smart entry/start
  • 360° view camera with selectable modes and moving object detection
  • Rearview camera with predictive path
  • Intermittent wipers
  • 4 cup holders, 4 bottle holders
  • Flexible cargo system
  • Power drivers seat controls
  • AEB, lane departure warning, forward collision warning

Drivetrain

2.0L 4 cylinder,

106kw @ 6,000

200Nm @ 4,400

CVT XTronic automatic with engine braking

Front Wheel Drive

Hill Start Assist

Safety

5 stars

Good Bits

Spacious, 360° camera, quick responding infotainment

No So Good Bits

CVT, some plastics feel to hard, no Blind Spot/auto lights/auto wipers

Summary

Nissan Qashqai ST-L is a good mix of inclusions VS price, but the driver aids should be range-wide.

The ride is smooth, and the engine nippy enough to be perfect for city work. But, the CVT tends to make the engine scream for mercy with even moderate stressing of the go peddle. Tech such as auto parking is reserved for the top model.

In a tough battle ground like the small SUV segment, I’d have hoped for a cabin brimming with goodies. The omission of CarPlay/Android Auto feels a little careless. I was told on the down-low that Apple and Android integration is coming, but not soon enough.

Even with those few foibles, Qashqai makes a good argument to buyers spoilt for choice.

The cabin was reasonably quiet, but SUV aspirations are restricted to say the least. Front wheel drive cars will only go a very little way off road.

We used the 360 Camera for more than just the usual parking duties too. Pressing the camera button brings up the graphic with the top-down view on the side, and the front or rear view in a larger picture. By touching the area you want to see, it then becomes the larger view.

You can use is to see right round the car, or the gutter when parking. It is brilliant. In fact, we were able to park easily just by using the camera.

Nissan knows most SUVs never go further than gravel drives, so rather than pack full 4WD into a car only 4,394mm long, weighing 1,392kg, they’ve gone the CVT/Fwd route.

We liked the Qashqai at launch. Read about it here.

Facts and Figures

Price: $32,990

Engine: 2.0L 4cyl, 106kw/200Nm, 6.9L/100k

Transmission: CVT Xtronic with engine braking

Economy: 6.9L/100k

CO2: 159gm/km