ROAD TEST: Nissan Qashqai is a small SUV big on value
UNLIKELY to cause as much excitement as a full set of those ridiculous miniatures from Woolworths, the compact Nissan Qashqai line-up is complete.
Packed with the latest safety kit and as well as high-end Nappa leather-covered seats, the Ti grade starts from $37,990 plus on-roads.
That price puts the top-shelf Qashqai, pronounced "cash-ky” for those confused, within stretching distance of lower grade prestige variants like the Audi Q2 or Infiniti Q30, but right in the mix against the best compact SUV offerings including the Mazda CX-3 Akari, Toyota C-HR Koba and Hyundai Kona Highlander.
Nothing is left on the options list, and for the $9000 jump over the base ST model you get the special leather 3D quilted seats with electric adjustment for the front two chairs, keyless entry with push-button start, seven-inch colour touchscreen with satnav and digital radio, panoramic sunroof, as well as dual-zone aircon.
The Qashqai was updated in December when Nissan introduced more sound-deadening materials and improved use of soft-touch materials.
Stop-gap N-Tec models are still being phased out and while they are equipped similarly, the Ti adds the better seats, radar cruise control and functionality that can steer the car if it starts to wandering outside the lane without indication.
Servicing intervals are every 10,000km or annual, with the average price over 12 visits $315.
The warranty is short by mainstream standards at three years or 100,000km, with roadside assist for the same period. Kia leads the way with seven and unlimited kilometres, while Hyundai, Mazda and Volkswagen (selected models) offer coverage for five years.
An extended warranty deal is available for another three years as long as it hasn't covered more than 150,000km.
Across the range is the standard four-cylinder petrol engine and unfortunately the Ti doesn't gain any additional zip.
That doesn't mean it's a slowcoach. The continuously variable transmission works well in tandem with the engine (often those transmissions can sound whinier than Phil Gould) but it lacks some punch for those who like more urgency under their right foot.
With a firm ride it borders on sporty, although it mostly feels adequate in most departments - doing its intended job as a family hauler reasonably well.
Looking the part, the Qashqai has European appeal, especially impressive with the blue external colour scheme and the 19-inch diamond cut alloys. Other colour options are various shades of grey, red, black and white.
Boot space is impressive by compact SUV standards and good enough for a couple of large suitcases.
Drop the rear seats and the 430-litre space expands to just shy of 1600.
Only available on this Ti model, the radar cruise control function can maintain the Qashqai's position behind vehicles at three pre-set distances that can be set by the driver.
While it works, the Qashqai system felt like it was operating in waves of momentum when following slower cars ... not something we've experienced before with Nissans and we'll take it as an aberration rather than the rule.
It also comes with autonomous emergency braking which can apply the brakes to avoid or lessen an oncoming accident, front and rear parking sensors, 360-degree camera view, blind spot warning, automatic high beam and rear cross traffic alert.
Sitting atop the range, the top-shelf Qashqai Ti is a contributor rather than a star player in a competitive SUV arena. Looking good and with reliable performance, it meets expectations rather than setting them.
AT A GLANCE
NISSAN QASHQAI Ti
PRICE $37,990 plus on-roads (upper end)
WARRANTY/SERVICING 3-year w'ty (short), $2322 for 60,000km (expensive)
ENGINE 2.0-litre 4-cyl, 106kW/200Nm (below average)
SAFETY 5 stars, 6 airbags, AEB, lane departure warning, surround cameras with rear object detection (good)
THIRST 6.9L/100km (average)
SPARE Space-saver (becoming standard)
BOOT 430L, 1598L seats down (big)