The new Nissan Qashqai.
The new Nissan Qashqai.

2014 Nissan Qashqai road test review | Rejuvenated appeal

COMBINE Johnny Cash and Ky Hurst both in name and nature.

Nissan's new Qashqai (pronounced Cash-Ky) replaces the Dualis, ready to rock the compact SUV genre with more athletic appeal.

It's another marketing challenge for the Japanese brand Down Under.

The Dualis has been popular here, but more rigid company policy means this new variant keeps the global Qashqai name. Nissan recently switched back to the Pulsar nameplate after disappointing results with the Tiida - although signs are most positive this time around.

"If ever there is a car that can carry off the name change, this is the car," Nissan Australia managing director and CEO Richard Emery said.

"It's very different to the Dualis. Once you have heard the name once, you get it, and we are confident this was the right time to make the change."

Only available in front-wheel drive and five seats with the "plus two" variant deleted, it comes with either a petrol or diesel powerplant, each with two trim levels. Prices start from $25,850 (down $140 on the Dualis) and are book-ended by $37,990 for the top-shelf diesel.

Comfort

All variants have cabin materials that are nice to touch, with cloth or leather trim on the door arm rests.

Flowing lines deliver a cohesive feel with a primarily black colour scheme.

Using the various functions is straight-forward, with the driver's 12.7cm display featuring a range of menus that are easy to flick through. Changing things like the steering feel from "normal" to "sport" can take some initial analysis, but once found, the operations are pretty simple.

Telescopic steering wheel adjustment provides the driver with easy access, and those up front have ample space. Rear-seat accommodation is more confined, although two adults can fit.

The back pew is extremely flat, with little contouring, and could do with some extra bolstering.

On the road

Less than 5% of Dualis sales were all-wheel drive, so the Qashqai sends power only to the front.

There is a choice from four-cylinder petrol or diesel engines, with the oil-burner mated exclusively to an automatic transmission.

We sampled both the entry-level manual petrol and the top-spec diesel, and could live with either.

Particularly strong with its mid-range torque, the diesel Qashqai works nicely uphill and offers responsive steering.

Petrol derivatives don't have the same punch, but they are happy to rev when required to work. Around town is the Qashqai's forte, and most drivers will find the petrol meets daily needs - the increased cost of diesel both in the showroom and servicing is a trade-off for the extra performance.

Range-topping models of both drivetrains have some cool safety gizmos, like lane departure warning, rear moving object detection, cameras that provide a bird's eye view of the car, and blind spot monitoring, as well as an automatic parking function for both reverse parallel and bay parking.

While a handy feature, the automated parking system can be

cumbersome to use with its various steps. The bay parking function veers onto the opposite side of the road before reversing and would require some reasonable space to complete the manoeuvre.

What do you get?

ST and TS Qashqais come with an electronic park brake, rear-view camera, cruise control, five-star safety with six airbags and technology such as stability control and anti-lock brakes, alloy wheels, along with Bluetooth smartphone connectivity, which provides access to apps such as Facebook and Google.

Ti and TL grades include front heated seats, six-way power-adjustable driver's seat, sat nav, push-button start, panoramic glass roof, dual zone, air-con, roof rails and LED headlights with auto levelling.

Both diesel models also get the fuel-saving stop-start technology.

Rear parking sensors would be handy, but are a $460 option.

Practicality

Having an electric park brake improves console space, and up front there are two cup holders and bottle slots in the doors.

There is a gigantic centre console where the USB and 12-volt plug is housed, while there is another 12-volt power outlet in front of the shifter and next to a nook perfect for music players or smartphones.

The 430 litres of boot space is an improvement on the Dualis. The rear seats also have a 60-40 split, and the boot offers a dual floor system that operates similar to the X-Trail in the up-spec models.

The two reversible boot floor panels can be raised or lowered with 16 different configurations.

Running costs

Thankfully Nissan has done away with six-month servicing intervals. The Qashqai needs servicing only annually or every 10,000km, which brings the marque into line with most other manufacturers.

Capped-price servicing is available. The average price is $292 for petrol and $402 for diesel over 12 services.

Fuel consumption on average ranges from less than five litres with the diesel to just below eight with the petrol.

Funky factor

Looking like a smaller version of the X-Trail, this is the continuation of Nissan's design lineage. It's an attractive SUV, with a combination of powerful curves and clean lines.

Those looking for something a little more "out there" have the option of the slightly smaller Juke.

Eight colours are available, including white, black, bronze, blue, red, deep maroon and two shades of silver.

VITAL STATISTICS

Model: Nissan Qashqai.

Details: Five-door front-wheel drive compact sports utility vehicle.

Engines: 2.0-litre four-cylinder petrol generating maximum power of 106kW @ 6000rpm and peak torque of 200Nm @ 4400rpm; 1.6-litre turbo diesel 96kW @ 4000rpm and 320Nm @ 1750rpm.

Transmissions: Six-speed manual (petrol only) or continuously variable automatic.

Consumption: Petrol - 7.7 litres/100km (m), 6.9 (a). Diesel - 4.9L/100km.

CO2: 178g/km, 159g/km, 129g/km.

Bottom line: Petrol - ST 2.0L (m) $25,850, ST 2.0L (a) $28,490, Ti 2.0L (m) $32,490, Ti 2.0L (a) $34,990. Diesel - TS 1.6L (a) $33,200, TL 1.6L (a) $37,990.

What matters most

What we liked: Good looks, does a lot of things well, easy to drive, 12 month servicing intervals.

What we'd like to see: More contouring of rear seat, quicker access to automated parking functionality, rear parking sensors to match the camera.

Warranty and servicing: Three-year 100,000km warranty. Servicing intervals are every year or 10,000km, average price is $292 for petrol and $402 for diesel over 12 services.


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