Launched: Nissan Qashqai
I have only heard good things about the Qashqai, and I know the car has been a resounding success in South Africa. Now in its 3rd generation, I had the privilege to launch this vehicle in Cape Town – with its unpredictable weather coupled with some motion sickness from a boat ride.
The Qashqai is a crossover SUV that has captured the hearts of many for years. One major takeaway was the updated exterior styling, it looks incredible. It has such a large and imposing fascia, with those long LED’s that stretch across the body of the vehicle and it looks really futuristic. I am fully impressed with how they have redone the interior, we tested the top spec Acenta Plus, which has a gorgeous 12.3 inch infotainment system screen that is super intuitive and easy to use. I did like how clear the graphics are and how easy it is to toggle through various functions. The quality of materials used in the cabin are quite nice to touch and look at. The Qashqai is very comfortable, thanks to those Nappa leather seats that have both a heated function and massaging function (I used the massages to ease my back pains – old age is kicking in). From a quality point of view, this car is right up there with the likes of the Kia Sportage and the Mazda CX-5. I love how these brands are coming to the fort with class-leading, quality and well put together interiors, they are coming for the premium brands quite hard now.
The vehicle is powered by a 1.3l turbopetrol engine that produces 110kW/250Nm. It uses a front wheel drive system, as the upcoming X-Trail will be all-wheel drive. The engine is really lovely, retains power well and it is quite eager to move. I was skeptical when I heard it uses a CVT but this one is not at all bad. Gear shifts are prompt, and when you put your foot down it just gets a burst of energy and allows for seamless overtaking and it does not have that whiny sound we associate with CVT’s. The car excels well on both city and highway driving, so I am fully impressed with its motor and how it performs. Another commendable thing is the quietness of the cabin and how well insulated it is. The Qashqai is a really well out together product in terms of the drive. The entry level Visia produces 96kW/240Nm, however. We drove around Cape Town and used the famous Chapmans Peak route, which was quite scenic for me. The car handles so well on bends and curves so kudos to Nissan for making such a fabulous product. I did experience a little bit of turbo lag and slight strain from the engine when on a descent, yet other than that, it is really lovely.
The SUV segment in South Africa is inundated with plenty of options, I would sure as hell be confused in what to pick in this range. the Qashqai aims to rival vehicles like the Kia Sportage, Hyundai Tucson, Volkswagen Tiguan, and Mazda CX-5 to name a few. I have driven quite a few of these offerings and to be honest, the Qashqai offers more for your money, as it is positioned to be an attainable premium product. My recommendations? The Mazda CX-5 is slightly larger and offers a bit more boot space (I threw a whole bike in it once) so I can say that for people who want more space, that is your guy. The Kia Sportage GT-Line comes in a R663k, and the Qashqai Acenta Plus at R670k, but solely based on looks I would say the Sportage is the better looking vehicle. The Qashqai does drive a little better than the Sportage but there is a certain level of over the top quality and feel that the Kia manages to offer better. The Qashqai does have a 10 speaker BOSE sound system which is insanely crisp, so there is not much to fuss around when it comes to this car. Small and mid-size SUV’s are quite hard to get wrong in my opinion, they are foolproof. I do think, that the segment is really cluttered and each brand is trying to cash in, be it mass volume brands or even premium/niche brands. I do recommend the Qashqai fully, and it has grown to being something consumers should be looking out for. In the same breath, shop around before you make a decision. There are so many good SUV’s and on the upside, you can express your individuality and personality through any of the aforementioned vehicles.
Pricing for the Qashqai is as follows:
Visia: R568 200
Acenta: R639 300
Acenta Plus 110kW: R670 600
The Nissan Qashqai is comes with a 3-year/90 000 km service plan, 6-year/150 000 km warranty, and 6-year/150 000 km roadside assistance.