‘Baby’ Qashqai walks the torque

off-my-wheelsBrian Joss –

Nissan has taken a great leap forward with its new generation Qashqai.

I tested the Qashqai 1.6dCi Acenta XTRONIC CVT  and I was impressed. The next Nissan to arrive was the Qashqai 1.2T Acenta powered by a direct-injection turbocharged unit which puts out  85kW at 4 500rpm and 190Nm from  2 000rpm. In plain English this means that the 1.2T produces more power and a lot more torque than the 1.6 litre engine. So sometimes less is more… more or less. The engine is mated to a six-speed manual transmission and shifting through the gears is light work.

Nissan’s new 1.2T Qashqai … practical and peppy. Picture: QuickPic
Nissan’s new 1.2T Qashqai … practical and peppy. Picture: QuickPic

The Nissan Qashqai which was first launched in 2007  became a best-seller and a favourite of South Africans who bought 20 000 of them while worldwide sales hit the two million mark.

Through the years there have been tweaks here and there but this is the first time the Qashqai has had a complete makeover from the bottom up. The 1.2T Qashqai ticks the right boxes and the test model came with all the bells and whistles: surround view cameras; heated door mirrors; Satnav; Google search and a Facebook application. The Around View Monitor incorporates four exterior cameras – mounted on the nose, tailgate and under each door mirror – to create a ‘helicopter view’ which makes parking and manoeuvring easy. But these are not standard and the Techno Pack, if you want all the goodies, will set you back about R16 000. The newest NissanConnect system, with a seven-inch touchscreen, is also part of the pack. There is a Design Pack which includes among others, roof rails, and if you wanted to, you could combine the two to put your own stamp on the vehicle, but again at a price.

Some of the standard features of the Qashqai include start/stop technology, a regenerative alternator and special low-viscosity oils. Fuel usage in the Qashqai, averages 6.2 litres/100km, says Nissan. But the best I could manage was closer to 7 litres/100km in a town and country cycle. Including on a road out in the sticks, driving above the legal limit, where there were no big brothers or cameras. Still, the 65-litre tank should give you a range of about 1 000km, perhaps more if you drive judiciously. The four-cylinder engine is peppy and, according to Nissan, can reach 100km in 10.9 seconds. The ride is comfortable and there’s plenty of space, head room and leg room for five people, three at the back.

Inside, the ergonomic layout ensures ease of use, while the finishes are of a high quality. There is plenty of storage space including the ubiquitous cup holders, two in front.

Nissan engineers, inspired by Nasa, used medical scanning to design the all-new seats which have special bolstering in the pelvis, lumbar and chest areas, and it works. Usually my bum gets numb quickly on a fairly long drive but not in the Qashqai’s driver’s seat which is designed for comfort.  The boot is capacious: 430 litres going up to 1 585 litres with the 60:40 split. So you can take the kitchen sink with you as well, when you go on holiday. Loading is easier too, the tailgate moves up 150mm higher than in its predecessor.

Nissan scored five stars in the Euro NCAP crash tests and safety equipment includes as standard, four-disc ABS with EBD (Electronic Brake-force Distribution) a BAS (Brake Assist System), six airbags, Vehicle Dynamic Control (VDC) which incorporates traction control, hill start assistance, an electric parking brake, three-point seat belts for all five seats and Isofix child seat anchor points. And unusually,  a full-size 16-inch spare wheel.

If you’re in the market for a new vehicle and you’re looking for a practical car with the fun elements of a Sports Utility Vehicle (SUV) I would put the Qashqai 1.2T at the top of the list. If I had to choose between the Qashqai 1.6 and the ‘baby’ Crossover I would take the 1.2T, even though I prefer  automatic transmission.

All models carry Nissan’s 6-year/ 150 000 km warranty and a 5-year/ 90 000 km service plan which includes roadside assistance as standard.

Your dealer will give you the latest prices but expect to pay upwards of R211 900 depending on model and if you want the nice-to-haves.

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