We road test Nissan’s third generation Qashqai

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Nissan basically invented the family SUV-hatchback crossover with the original Qashqai back in 2007. It sought more space than a liftback in return for a touch of dynamics and economy.

Who would ever believe that fifteen years later, it would spurn what has become the biggest new car segment of all. Not does every carmaker have a couple of these, but everyone wants them. So, now in third generation, how does the latest Qashqai shape up?


Nissan has changed everything

Well, Nissan has changed everything, without threatening its proven recipe. Slightly bigger, some would say it looks sharper with those matrix headlamps, while still being a Qashqai. Others may disagree, saying that its brilliant in parts, but dodgy in others. As if one committee had designed certain bits. And another, others.

Knowing who drives Qashqais so well, Nissan has been sure to remember its urban family roots and kept it small, yet still spacious and versatile enough. The rear doors open wide for easy access, the boot is big and there are enough gadgets to help mum park it. Not quite as edgy as some rivals, the soft touch cabin is smart, soft, and sophisticated enough too.


Qashqai has clear, concise infotainment

A clear, concise, and easy to use, high mounted infotainment screen has enough buttons to even keep old school types happy, while still feeling more than techy for a geek. It works very well in a world where so many rivals are just lost. There’s also a prominent heads-up display to complement the dials.

More sophisticated, but still simple and intuitive to operate, Nissan’s ProPilot active lane keeping cruise control is now navigation linked. It slows the car on approach sharper bends. Self-explanatory and easy to use, it will holler if you take too much advantage of it.


Qashqai Handles well for what it is

Our flagship Acenta Plus is one of three local models all sharing the 110 kW 250 Nm turbo petrol four-pot 1.3T turning the front wheels via a constantly variable automatic. Qashqai Mk. 3’s all-new platform has a slightly longer wheelbase. It makes for a bit more room inside and is 60 kg lighter thanks to aluminium doors and front wings, and a plastic tailgate.

Our 9.5 second 0-100 km/h dash us never quite matched Nissan’s claimed 8.9 run in our tests. The CVT is designed to be quiet and compliant in town, and act more like an auto on the freeway and open road. That it does. Qashqai corners impressively flat, without much complaint from the tyres when shoved along.


Pretty neat for a crossover.

Taut suspension delivers a busy, but compliant ride. It’s a little darty on uneven roads with less load in the car. Add two adults, a bit of luggage, or a carload of kids and it settles down a bit. It’s a solid car though, well put together and quite robust, with little road noise on most surfaces. Makes for a premium feel that some rivals that claim to be that, would be proud of.

Still very much a family car, the pioneer has evolved well in what’s become a quite savage hatchback SUV crossover marketplace. It may no longer be the market leader it once was, but this latest generation Nissan Qashqai is good enough to fight the best. And it also gives faithful older model owners a compelling and quite exciting next Qashqai step forward. – Michele Lupini

Testing & Photography: Giordano Lupini

ROAD TESTED: Nissan Qashqai 1.3T Acenta
Engine: 110 kW 250 Nm 1.3-litre petrol I4
Drive: CVT FWD
0-60 km/h:        4.28 sec
0-100 km/h:       9.51 sec
0-120 km/h:       13.06 sec
0-160 km/h:       23.25 sec
400m:             16.7sec @ 138 km/h
80-120 km/h:      6.35 sec
120-160 km/h:     10.19 sec
VMax:             206 km/h
Fuel:             6.1 l/100 km
CO2:              138 g/km
Range:            1060 km
Warranty/Service: 5y 150K/3y 90K km
LIST PRICE:       R670K
RATED:            8
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