November 22, 2018

2018 Nissan Qashqai Launch review

Nissan Qashqai midlife update:

New MD, Stephen Lester, erstwhile Canadian, has been brought in to deliver improved results for the Japanese car maker.

Mr. Lester is charting a longer-term plan focusing on customer needs. His aim is to make Nissan relevant “again” in the face of stiff competition. One assumes this means Nissan thinks its relevance has slipped.

Mr. Lester spoke in glowing terms of Qashqai, and the 3.3 million sold since being released 10 years ago, as the Dualis. In 2014, Australia “caught up with the rest of the world”, and renamed it Qashqai.

At launch, it had only a single competitor, but now has 28 to do battle against, and the market is tough.

The diesel has been dropped.

The trend towards smaller, more efficient, petrol turbos, has seen sales of oil-burners plummet to single digits. This is a world-wide trend.

Front and rear ends have had tweaks, and safety equipment has received a boost. The Nissan’s grille  insignia provides the radar for the active cruise control.

Standard active cruise control, lane departure warning, and noise/vibration/harshness improvements see the new model drive better than before.

Autonomous Emergency Braking is now standard.

The new D-shaped steering wheel is festooned with the ubiquitous controls buyers now expect. The steering has a new “Active Return Control” which centres the wheel, like the old days.

Wheels have been updated across the range, and the top model gets sexy 19” alloys, just to let others know you’ve spent more.

The TI also has fabulously supple Nappa leather seats, but the that model will not be available until next year. This is a world-wide limitation due to production restraints.

There is no Apple CarPlay/Android Auto, which is a huge omission in a stiff market.

The Range in detail:

The range is priced at the upper end of the small SUV segment.

There are 3 models: ST, ST-L and N-TEC. TI will be added next year and will replace the N-TEC.

The new, and somewhat polarising, grille features Nissan’s V-motion design. That, you’ll either love or hate.

ST/ST-L have halogen lights and enhanced DTRLs with 17” and 18” wheels respectively.

N-TEC and TI have 19” wheels and full “boomerang style” DTRLs (daytime running lights).

The rear end on all models features new Boomerang-style LED tail lights.

Inside, a smart new D shaped steering features redesigned buttons, which Nissan claims are more premium than before.

New stitching on the centre console adds to this new “premium” look, as do finishes on the dash, and doors, as well as the leather-booted gear selector.

All doors have 1-touch auto power windows, which can be remotely opened and closed from the key fob.

All models get new upholstery, with leather on the N-TEC and TI.

There is DAB radio in all but the ST, which makes do with a 5” screen in lieu of the 7” unit in the other models.

Firmer springs and stabilser bars absorb bumps while improving ride.

The electric steering now has Active Return Control to centre the wheel after cornering. It feels somewhat like the old-school hydraulic steering. Hoorah!

Bluetooth is easy to use, and of course you can stream music by Bluetooth and USB.

All models get Auto Emergency Braking and Warning, front and rear parking sensors, Land Departure warning, hill start assist, and an electric parking brake.

Other features are: Rear Cross Traffic Alert, 360° Camera with moving object detection, Smart cruise control, intelligent lane intervention, driver alert, adaptive front lighting, and high beam assist. The grade you choose will depend on which of these are included.

There is a 2.0L 106/w/200Nm petrol 4 cylinder. A 6-speed manual is available on the base model only. A fairly capable CVT auto is available in all models.

Nissan claims 6.9L100k is one of the best in the segment.

The CVT can apply engine braking, as if you were changing down in gears in a traditional auto. Importantly, the CVT doesn’t make the engine rev embarrassingly as you cross an intersection.

Our drive took us through scenic Victoria, which has greened up with recent rain. Leafy as always, historic Daylesford formed a backdrop for what this kind of vehicle is best at, weekends away.

The ride is excellent thanks to retuned dampers, and, even on the most appalling of the b-roads in and around Daylesford, Qashqai remained composed. We hit one or two large potholes which were soaked up limo-style. We were impressed.

Torque is delivered smoothly with enough power for overtaking, if done sensibly.

Dirt roads, and highways were equally dispatched with great alacrity, and the ride was pleasantly smooth.

Brakes were responsive without being too touchy, and the steering felt light. As with most electric steering, it lacked a little road feel.

We didn’t get a chance to try the Self-Parking on the N-TEC, but have used it on other cars. It is particularly handy in tight spots.

The cabin is fairly quiet thanks to thicker rear glass. In addition, there is extra sealing around the doors, and a clever vortex generator under the front bumper.

Most of the interior trim looks and feels good, and the switches and knobs have a nice feel of resistance.

Smart entry/start is one of my favourite features, and allows a driver to leave the key in his pocket. Once you lock the door by pressing the door handle pad, you unlock by grabbing the same handle, and gently pulling.

Don’t be tempted to check if it is locked by tugging the door handle though. It will unlock again, sending your OCD in to a frenzy.

There are places where Nissan has skimped, such as power seats being only on the driver’s side, even in the top model. I’ve already mentioned the CarPaly issue. However, there is a digital speedo which goes some way to assuaging my grief.

The range is priced to attract buyers who just want a decent drive experience without bells and whistles, yet caters for those wanting the full English in the upper models.

The competition includes Kona, HRV, CX3 to name but a few. A buyer will no doubt be silt for choice.

Pricing (MSRP*)

Grade                               Transmission     MRSP

Nissan QASHQAI ST        6MT                    $26,490

Nissan QASHQAI ST        CVT                     $28,990

Nissan QASHQAI ST-L     CVT                     $32,990

Nissan QASHQAI N-TEC CVT                     $36,490

Nissan QASHQAI Ti         CVT                     $37,990

Engine: 4 cylinder (non turbo), 106kw/200Nm, 6.9L/100k

Transmission: CVT auto (no paddles shifters)

Weight kg:1,343 – 1,429

Tanks: 65L

Cargo hold: 430L (1,598L seats down)

Seats: 5



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