ON THE ROAD – IAN LYNAS DRIVES THE NEW NISSAN QASHQAI
The Qashqai first appeared in 2006 and it has been a mainstay of the Nissan range since. Now we have the third generation of this popular compact SUV, which is better than ever with a comprehensive safety and technology package.
Yes, it is in one of the most competitive sectors of the market and after having spent a week with one I can certainly see the appeal it has for many drivers. Built at the Nissan facility in the UK throughout its relatively short history, it has gained quite a following and in a very competitive sector of the market. In its latest guise, there is no doubt in my mind it will continue to satisfy current owners and attract new customers. Today in this crowded marketplace so called conquest sales are important.
You may ask about the name; it is named after the Qashqai people who live in mountainous Central and Southwestern Iran. Looking at the global scene it has also been named, Dualis and Rogue Sport, the latter in the North American market. The third generation model was revealed early last year and it is larger vehicle than the previous model, longer, wider and taller, while its wheelbase is longer. Modest measurements but they do count and during my week with the new model it certainly felt bigger and for me an important aspect, much improved visibility, this achieved by the employment of a thinner A-pillar design and the mounting of the generous wing mirrors on the doors instead of the A-pillar. Styling is so important, and the new Qashqai is modern with a sharp exterior, no complaints in this department; a good looker with a glass roof and rails and the whole package rides on tasty chunky alloy wheels and I really enjoyed the spacious cabin with headroom increased over the previous model.
Why do people buy SUVs? There are many reasons I suspect; I like to think that the priority should be the practical one and again with this new model there is an increase of fifty litres in boot capacity thanks to the lower cargo floor and the redesigned suspension and most will really appreciate the power tailgate. The new model has been designed and engineered to suit a wide audience; I suppose describing it as a lifestyle vehicle would be about right. The new Qashqai shares the Renault-Nissan Common Module Family platform which aids comfort and handling. I did find the ride on the firmish side, perhaps not to the liking of all; but this would be my choice. I have to award marks to the elevated driving position which, hand in hand with he aforementioned improved visibility, adds greatly to the pleasure of being in control of this Nissan.
The modern vehicle is really technology on wheels and the customer of today does focus very much on this; so it is key to the success of a vehicle- with the new Qashqai no one will be disappointed. A 31.2cm (12.3 in) full TFT Combimeter, A-IVI Navi 23cm (9 in) screen with Connected Services, audio system with DAB, Bluetooth with audio streaming, two Rear USBs (1 Type A & 1 Type C), 1 FR USB Type C, Sharkfin antenna, wireless Apple Carplay, six speakers and a personal favourite of mine- head up display. With the Qashqai range comes choice and my test example was the Tekna DIG-T 1.5 litre158bhp (mild hybrid) with manual six speed transmission and in two wheel drive; all wheel drive I must point out is also available. Of course there will be variations depending on the market it is available in; the 1.3 mild hybrid petrol engine is the offering in the ROI.
Performance is not startling for he version I had on test, but will please most, rest to 100kph (62mph) in 9.5 seconds and on to a top speed of 206kph (128mph) where legal to do so. In conclusion, this is a strong competitor in its market sector, packed with safety and technology and a few nice touches like the heated front seats and heated steering wheel.