2018 Nissan Qashqai Review
Isaac Bober’s 2018 Nissan Qashqai Review with pricing, specs, performance, ride and handling, safety, verdict and score.
In a nutshell: Nissan refreshes its globally popular Qashqai compact SUV with a new look front and rear, tweaked interiors and better safety tech.
2018 Nissan Qashqai
Price From $26,490+ORC Warranty three years, 100,000km Safety five-star ANCAP (2014) Engine 2.0-litre four-cylinder petrol Power 106kW at 6000rpm Torque 200Nm at 4000rpm Transmission CVT Drive front-wheel drive Dimensions 4394mm (L) 1806mm (W) 1595mm (H) 2646mm (WB) Ground Clearance 186mm Boot Space 430-1598L Spare Space Saver Fuel Tank 65L Thirst 7.7-6.9L/100km (claimed combined – depending on transmission)
AROUND THE WORLD, the Qashqai is a best-seller, particularly so in the UK where it’s that country’s fourth best-selling vehicle and the best-selling medium SUV – but then it’s designed and built in the UK, so, that market is biased. That said, since the launch of the Qashqai in 2007, it has shifted more than 3 million units around the world.
Locally, the Qashqai which was launched here in 2008 as the Dualis, but followed global naming convention from 2014 with the launch here of the second-generation model – it has sold more than 38,000 vehicles here since. So, is a refreshed Qashqai, with a new look front and rear and much-improved interior able to cut it in one of the most crowded automotive segments?
What is the Nissan Qashqai?
On page 6 of the press guff for the launch of the refreshed (Nissan says New) Qashqai, Nissan lists 25 fast facts about the updated Qashqai, spelling out all the new bits and pieces. And it’s an impressive list, covering a new front bumper and grille, rear bumper, tweaked suspension, NVH improvements, around view monitor, advanced safety suite and a ‘plusher’ interior.
And Nissan needed to add this stuff with key competitors becoming ever more premium feeling, the Qashqai was in need to a tidy up. And carefully recrafting a global top seller is key to being a successful car maker; think about all those brands that have fumbled from one update to the next, never considering feedback from consumers until sales start falling or a newcomer steals their thunder.
So, while, at first glance, the Qashqai doesn’t look overly different from its predecessor, a lot has changed, as the 25 fast facts in the press booklet suggest.
One of the roomiest compact crossovers in the segment, there’s no all-wheel drive variant and no diesel engine either. Pricing has either dropped or risen slightly, but Nissan claims the enhanced features list more than makes up for any pricing changes. The line-up includes the entry-level ST, mid-spec ST-L and the top-spec Ti which won’t be available here due to production shortage until next year; in the meantime, a limited-edition N-TEC variant sits at the top of the tree. If you look at the Facebook video at the top of this review, you’ll see our walk around of the Ti; Nissan had one on-show at the local launch earlier this week.
The Qashqai is built on the brand’s, and take a breath, Renault-Nissan Alliance Common Moduel Family (CMF) platform. The updated Qashqai is 17mm longer than its predecessor but retains the same width and height measurements. And, for the first time, wheels run from 17- to 19-inches in diameter.
Right now, Qashqai sales are up 5% year-on-year demonstrating the strong appeal of Nissan’s roomy little SUV. Nissan is predicting an even split between the various model grades although 97% of sales will be equipped with a CVT. Asked why Nissan doesn’t just drop the manual transmission, it responded that there are still a few customers who like to change gear themselves; nice to see a brand listening.
Pricing kicks off at $26,490+ORC for the entry-level ST with manual transmission, climbs to $28,990+ORC for the same variant with a CVT, while the ST-L (pictured in this review) lists from $32,990+ORC, the N-TEC from $36,490+ORC and the Ti (arriving next year) from $37,990+ORC.
What’s the interior like?
This is where the change is most noticeable. Nissan went to great lengths to explain the changes to the interior and said they’d concentrated on refinement and noise insulation. And the interior is clearly a step ahead of that in the old car but it’s still a long way off the segment leaders, as far as interior design and quality is concerned, like VW and Hyundai.
The steering wheel copped a lot of work, with the central hub being smaller and the three spokes thinner, this has created an airier upper space to the steering wheel, meaning the instruments behind can be seen no matter how tall or short you are (Peugeot, are you listening? Click here to read my Peugeot 3008 review where I moan about the steering wheel getting in the way of the instrument cluster). The steering wheel itself is a little thicker making it feel better in the hands.
In general, there’s greater use of soft-touch, quality plastics with hard, scratchy plastics pushed out to out of the way areas, like the lower door linings.
The infotainment system is new but doesn’t get Apple CarPlay or Android Auto connectivity and, I think, in this segment that feature is fast becoming an expected offer. That said, Nissan is not alone in holding out. The infotainment offers sat-nav, Bluetooth and audio streaming, and there are hard, shortcut buttons around the outside of the screen. There’s not a huge amount of functionality and, unfortunately, it comes off feeling a little dated.
The climate controls sit beneath the infotainment screen and are easy to use. In all, the dashboard is laid out neatly and practically and while it feels better than the old car, it’s not the slinkiest interior in the segment.
The seats are all-new and they feel good whether you’re tootling around town, running on the highway, around corners or across dirt roads. There’s enough padding and support in the right places, they feature a longer base to give better under-thigh support, which you’ll only notice the benefit of on longer drives. There’s good adjustment on the seat and steering wheel and getting comfortable behind the wheel is easy.
I didn’t get to spend any time in the back while on the move, but I did climb in and have a good look around. There are no rear air vents or power outlets, regardless of the variant, but head, leg and shoulder room is good. There’s good visibility for those sat in the back; the new front seats are tapered slightly to improve forwards vision when you’re in the back seat. There are ISOFIX points on the two outboard seats.
The boot is a whopper for the class offering 430 litres which expands to 1598 litres when you fold down the rear seats which are 60:40 split-fold.
What’s it like to drive?
The updated Qashqai is only now available with a 2.0-litre four-cylinder engine making 106kW at 6000rpm and 200Nm of torque at 4000rpm. The entry-level only is available with a six-speed manual while the rest of the range gets a CVT which offers simulated step-style changes under hard acceleration to mimic a traditional automatic.
The test loop that Nissan has laid out for the Qashqai launch was a drive out to Daylesford from Melbourne and back via some nice twisting roads, country towns, a bit of dirt and highway. It was a good test of the Qashqai and especially of Nissan’s claims to have made the thing quieter; for instance, there’s now more sealing around the doors, more insulation in the front doors and the rear wheel arches, and the rear door glass is thicker. And, the Qashqai is noticeably quiet with little road or wind noise intruding into the cabin. Even across a section of dirt, conversation was easy in the cabin.
The petrol engine doesn’t seem overly endowed with oomph when you consider the room inside the Qashqai or the fact that peak power and torque are arriving quite high in the rev range. There’s a smoothness to the power delivery that makes for unfussed progress, although it’s only when you get to an overtaking situation that you realise the engine is puffing at its limit, feeling a little underpowered when you ask it to push harder and overtake.
Still, in general driving this is a comfortable engine and CVT combination that will do the job for most buyers.
The steering is weighty around the straight-ahead which is what you want for stable highway-speed driving and light at around town and parking speeds. Some might grumble about this, as there’s a noticeable if a little clumsy change in the steering feel as the speed rises, but for 99.9% of buyers it’ll feel utterly inoffensive; and that’s a good thing.
The Qashqai has had its suspension breathed on, with the addition of a thicker anti-roll bar although the shocks and dampers have been softened slightly. This makes for a comfortable ride around town with the suspension smothering bumps and ruts in the road. But as the speed increases, the suspension does struggle to keep up with the body’s bulk across rougher surfaces becoming crashy across rougher surfaces. The body is well controlled around corners with good stability and grip, but with a comfort-oriented set-up there’s no escaping a little bit of lean in corners.
What about safety?
The updated Qashqai will carry on with the current five-star ANCAP rating as well as front to rear side curtain airbags, front side impact airbags and driver and passenger airbags. There’s also usual suspects, like traction and stability controls, ISOFIX, lane departure warning and intelligent emergency braking with forward collision warning as standard. Move up the range and you get around view monitor (ST-L, N-TEC, and Ti), while N-TEC and Ti offer intelligent park assist, intelligent driver alert, blind spot warning, high beam assist, and rear cross traffic alert. When the Ti arrives next year, it’ll boast intelligent cruise control, and intelligent lane intervention.
So, what do we think?
Nissan says it believes there’ll be an even-ish three-way split between the variants and that it’ll sell around 1250 units a month. There’s no all-wheel drive and no diesel engine, so there’s not a huge amount of variety in the range – overseas you get a range of engines to choose from. But, Nissan believes what it’s offering in Australia is what the public wants but whether that’s actually the case we’ll have to wait and see.
The Qashqai has been noticeably improved across the board and is clearly the best in the segment in some areas. But is it the segment leader overall? I’m not so sure.