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Suzuki’s new Swift hatch and sedan in SA

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Revised Nissan Qashqai driven

2010-04-21 07:40

Lance Branquinho

Vehicle Specs
Manufacturer Nissan
Model Qashqai
Engine 1.6, 2.0
Power 81kW @ 6 000-, 102kW @ 5 200-, 110kW @ 4 000r/min
Torque 154Nm @ 4 400-, 198Nm @ 4 400-, 320Nm @ 2 000r/min
Transmission Five-, six-speed manual, CVT
Fuel Tank 65l
Weight 1 239- to 1 433kg
Boot Size 410l (+2 450l)
ABS Yes with EBD, BA
Airbags Six
Tyres 215/55R18
Front Suspension McPherson Strut with stabiliser
Rear Suspension Independent Multilink with stabiliser
Service Plan 3year/90 000km
Warranty 3year/100 000km
Qashqai 2010 - Trailer
Qashqai 2010 - Design

Nissan’s Qashqai raised-body hatchback has been a boundless success for the Japanese manufacturer locally. Lacking a traditional offering in the critical C segment hatchback class, Nissan simply invented something altogether different with the Qashqai.

In fact, so successful is Qashqai that Nissan’s Sunderland plant has been necessitated to add a third shift to deal with the rampant demand.

In South Africa Nissan has sold 5 500 of these raised body hatchbacks since its introduction four years ago.

With the addition of the new seven-seater derivative to the facelifted range, Nissan is also aiming to cement its position even further as the alternative choice to the established small SUV and hatchback fare.

Honeycomb grille and new headlights gives this Qashqai a more premium look.

Subtle redesign

Considering the fact that nearly 78% of Qashqai buyers are conquest customers (gravitating to Nissan from another brand) and most factor the vehicle’s styling as a primary purchasing aggregator, you can understand the subtle nature of this mid-lifecycle facelift.

Nissan’s brief to the Qashqai design team was to keep the car’s identity and only affect slight changes to ensure a delicately more contemporary take on the raised-body hatchback theme.

As a result, there are new rectangular headlights, reshaped fenders and a remoulded bumper. The headlight treatment, in particular, flows well with the bonnet’s vertical lines. A honeycomb grille finish adds the requisite dynamic signature to the new Qashqai’s front styling.

Around the rump Qashqai enthusiasts will notice the reshaped hatch spoiler and larger clear area within the rear taillights, which are now embedded with 12 LED diodes.

The front and rear styling changes result in a car that is 17mm larger bumper-to-bumper for most of the range. Most of the range; what about the rest of it? Well, the Qashqai facelift sees the introduction of the +2 seven-seater derivative by the end of May, which boasts 211mm of additional length and a 135mm more generous wheelbase.

The facelifted Qashqai range’s revised styling is rounded off with two new alloy wheel options, too.

All 1.6s (bar the entry-level Visia that rides on steel wheels) ride on 16-inch alloy wheels whilst the 2.0 cars now run exclusively on those striking 10-spoke 18-inch alloys which debuted towards the end of last year on the Qashqai N-Tec. Most cars are equipped with a full-sized spare wheel bar, with the exceptions being the two +2 derivatives that carry space savers to accommodate their third row seating arrangement.

New cabin deletes horrid orange hued trip-computer illumination for a TFT white display. Chrome surround for the engine- and road speed dials too. 

Decently equipped

In terms of cabin redesign and equipment levels the Qashqai makes a compelling case for itself amongst other C segment competitors.

All models feature a safety suite of six airbags. Dynamic safety is catered for by EBD and brake assist-boosted ABS, yet only the 2.0 petrol models are VDC equipped, despite the similar capacity turbodiesels being the most expensive cars in the range.

Convenience items tally a comprehensive blend too. On all models (including the entry level 1.6 Visia) you get auxiliary input-enabled infotainment, Bluetooth phone convergence, air conditioning and speed-sensitive central locking.

Upgrading to Acenta specification adds cruise- and climate control, leather trim to the steering wheel, two additional speakers to the Visia’s four, as well as door pockets to all doors and underseat stowage.

The seven-seater +2 models boast 40l of additional luggage space (with the third row of seats stored) to the standard Qashqai’s 410l.

Drives like a premium hatchback, looks like a SUV. Pure marketing genius. All-wheel drive version offers traction security for those who would like it.

Still a great drive

In terms of mechanics the Qashqai is much the same as before, with the only significant change being the addition of a CVT transmission to the 2.0 petrol line-up - finally satisfying demand for a two-pedal Qashqai derivative.

All other derivatives bar the 1.6s shift via a six-speed manual transmission, with clutch-pack engaged all-wheel drive available on the 2.0 DCi only.

On launch we sampled the new 2.0 CVT and all the endearing Qashqai characteristics reaffirmed themselves on our Port Elizabeth evaluation route.

The commanding view of the road thanks to the raised body ride height is still a huge boon in traffic. At speed, Qashqai’s well damped all-wheel independent suspension disciplines bodyroll in a way that is curiously at odds with the vehicle’s 200mm worth of ground clearance.

Dynamically, all things considered, the Qashqai range is a triumph of engineering over marketing – not the other way around. The SUV bodystyle and ride height is serviced by a steering keenness and agility which is pure class, thanks in no small measure to the all-wheel independently suspended wheel attachments. Grip levels are high too, courtesy of the 215/55R18 rubber.

Nissan says they’ve added additional sound insulation foam too. Truth be told, the Qashqai’s never had noise, vibration or harshness issues and even on our test route - riding on 18-inch wheels across some rather abrasive and haphazardly-surfaced Eastern Cape backroads - the cabin environment was devoid of extraneous acoustic intrusion. 

Refinement levels outstanding. Dimensions very urban friendly and with 200mm worth of ground clearance you're always able to visit the in-laws on their farm.

CVT alternative?

You’re probably wondering what the new CVT transmission is like, as these belt driven set-ups can emit a rather uninspiring drone.

Well, the Qashqai CVT is neatly responsive, especially when tipshifted (it has a pseudo-manual override), and relatively unobtrusive.  

In a statistical comparison with its six-speed tri-pedal 2.0 petrol sibling, the CVT consumes fractionally more fuel (8.2- versus 8.1l/100km), and is slower in terms of acceleration (1.2 seconds off the six-speed’s 10.1 sec 0-100km/h time) and top speed (183km/h plays 195km/h). These performance discrepancies are the compromise you make for dual-pedal driving convenience, especially in urban traffic.

So, if you’re in the C segment hatchback market (or tired of your SUV), the echo of the Qashqai’s appeal has been soundly broadened with the introduction of CVT convenience and seven seater portability with this facelift.

The best car Nissan makes (GT-R aside) has just become that little bit better.


1.6l Visia                   R227 500
1.6l Acenta               R248 500
2.0l Acenta               R282 500
2.0l Acenta CVT       R295 000
2.0l Acenta dCi        R308 000
2.0l Acenta dCi 4X4 R333 000

Qashqai +2 (end May 2010)

1.6l Visia             R249 500
2.0l Acenta         R303 500

Do you think Nissan's Qashqai is a gimmick or the best C segment compromise out there? Discuss it here


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