Car Reviews

2020 Nissan Qashqai review

WE KNOW Nisan’s Qashqai model all too well, having driven it numerous times over recent years in this current generation. But some important upgrades allowed us the chance to drive the new 2020 limited edition Qashqai N-Sport on the beautiful roads of New Zealand. Read Alex Rae’s full review below.

THE GOOD: Well packaged, drives nicely, updated tech is welcome.

THE BAD: No AWD or diesel, infotainment could be bigger, isn’t the value offering it once was.

IN A NUTSHELL: Nissan refreshes its globally popular Qashqai compact SUV, again, this time with new connectivity technology and safety tech.

Nissan Qashqai N-Sport rear

2020 Nissan Qashqai review

At first glance, the latest Qashqai doesn’t look different from last year but there have been some important updates to bring Nissan’s small SUV closer to rivals.

While the competent Qashqai was beginning to feel a little dated with its small infotainment and lack of connectivity like Apple CarPlay which chief competitors (all mostly newer) now have, the latest model struts out with all that and a little more.

New for this year is also better safety tech and an N-Sport model that adds bling to the mid-grade ST-L for a $1000 premium. Otherwise, everything else is business as usual, the model riding on the Renault-Nissan Alliance Common Module Family (CMF) platform which helps give it better packaging inside than most small SUVs.

How much does the Nissan Qashqai cost and what do you get?

Pricing kicks off at $27,990 plus on-road costs for the entry-level ST with a manual transmission, the CVT version costs $29,990. From here on up, the rest of the range are all CVTs.

The ST+ costs $31,990, the ST-L costs $34,000, the N-Sport on test here is $35,000, and the Ti costs $38,490. If you want a mix of good equipment and a sporty look, the N-Sport is the best bet (until sold out).

Nissan Qashqai N-Sport alloys wheel

The N-Sport we’re testing (only 600 units will be available) adds body-coloured front and rear bumpers and wheel arches with matt silver highlights. Underneath are larger 19-inch alloys and matching the silver ascents are silver mirror caps. Inside, the headlining is finished in black fabric trim above cloth and faux leather trim interior.

Also new, and standard across the range is Apple CarPlay and Android Auto on the 7.0-inch infotainment system. The model is otherwise equipped with most of the ST-L’s standard equipment, including climate control, 360-degree surround-view camera, reversing camera and AEB.

What’s the Nissan Qashqai interior like?

Nissan introduced a noticeable change to the Qashqai’s interior design in 2018, with added refinement and noise insulation also priorities. This year we see much of the same design, and though that means it is clearly a step ahead of where it was two years ago, it isn’t at the standard of the best in class.

Nissan Qashqai N-Sport interior front

But that’s not to say it is not at all good and there are some key points that stand out – though more so around practicality and space which we go into below. Highlights inside include the newer thin three-spoke steering wheel which means the instruments behind can be seen no matter how tall or short you are. It looks nice and feels good in the hands.

Around the cabin is a mix of soft-touch surfaces and some hard, scratchy plastics, and some of the switchgear is looking a bit dated. But functionality is good, and key touchpoints like seats are designed well.

How much space is there in the Nissan Qashqai?

The seats are comfortable both over short and long trips, and there’s enough padding and support in the right places. There’s also good adjustment on the seat and steering wheel and getting comfortable behind the wheel is easy. Between the two seats is a spacious storage bin, and large cup and bottle holders in the centre console and door pockets provide flexible storage.

Nissan Qashqai N-Sport boot interior rear

Rear seat space is rather broad and accommodating, with height in the headspace and footwell for adults. There are ISOFIX points on the two outboard seats. The boot is top tier – at least for this class – offering 430 litres which expands to 1598 litres when you fold down the rear seats 60:40 split-fold. There are hardly any SUVs in this segment which offer such a practical boot, with most measuring 250-350L in size.

What’s the Nissan Qashqai infotainment system like?

The infotainment system is ‘new’ if we consider the addition of Apple CarPlay and Android Auto connectivity, but the unit itself looks the same. That’s unfortunate, as it’s a relatively small 7.0-inches across compared to newer 8.0, 9.0 and 10.0-inch screens.

Nissan Qashqai N-Sport apple carplay infotainment

Still, it looks decent and shows the aforementioned Apple and Android systems clearly, and those both add a lot to the usability of the entertainment, like native sat nav which links to the phone. Another positive is the sound system, which actually goes up pretty loud and clear.

What’s the Nissan Qashqai engine like?

Only available is a 2.0-litre four-cylinder engine making 106kW at 6000rpm and 200Nm of torque at 4000rpm. And only the cheapest ST offers a six-speed manual transmission for rowing through gears, everything else has a CVT automatic transmission.

Driving in the N-Sport edition, we only tested the CVT, and it’s good. While the early 2010s saw some duds from other manufacturers, Nissan has been producing competent continuously variable transmissions for a while now which offer simulated step-style changes under hard acceleration to mimic a traditional automatic.

Nissan Qashqai N-Sport engine

Mated to the 2.0L engine, the setup isn’t particularly spritely off the mark but does a good job of keeping in the sweet spot of the driveline’s torque range to make for smooth going. On hills it is mostly unfussed and overtaking is fine until you need some more herbs at highway speeds.

What’s the Nissan Qashqai like to drive?

We drove the Qashqai over a comprehensive road loop consisting of gravel and sealed roads up and down some of New Zealand’s most beautiful (and challenging) mountain ranges. In short, the Qashqai is a good family car and does just about everything most drivers will command of it.

The highlight was crisp steering and a composed ride over the variety of roads which gives a feeling of confidence from the car. You can push it a little around twisting roads and the only real complaint is that there could be a touch more poke from the engine…and that it is only available in front-wheel drive. Otherwise, it’s a fun little SUV. It’s comfortable ride around town too, with the suspension smoothing jostles from the body and ironing our ruts in the road. 

Nissan Qashqai N-Sport highway

It was also pretty quiet inside despite some gravelly surfaces flicking stones up under the floor, and with little road or wind noise introduced inside into the cabin.

How safe is the Nissan Qashqai?

The Nissan Qashqai has been awarded a five-star ANCAP rating in 2014 which carries on to 2020.

It has front and rear side curtain airbags, front side impact airbags and driver and passenger airbags. Available is lane departure warning,  intelligent emergency braking with forward collision warning, intelligent park assist, intelligent driver alert, blind-spot warning, high beam assist, and rear cross-traffic alert, intelligent cruise control, and intelligent lane intervention.

What are the Nissan Qashqai alternatives?

The new Kia Seltos, the very new Mazda CX-30 we just reviewed, the older Mitsubishi ASX (though now with a new facelift), the Honda HR-V and the Toyota C-HR. If you’re going to be waiting a while longer, you might consider checking out the all-new Ford Puma once it lands.

Editor's Rating

How do we rate the interior and practicality?
How do we rate the value?
How do we rate the controls and infotainment?
How do we rate the performance?
How do we rate the ride and handling?
How do we rate the safety?

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2020 Nissan Qashqai pricing and specifications

Price From $27,990+ORC Warranty Five years, unlimited km 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)

Editor's Rating

How do we rate the interior and practicality?
How do we rate the value?
How do we rate the controls and infotainment?
How do we rate the performance?
How do we rate the ride and handling?
How do we rate the safety?

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Stephen Baney
Stephen Baney
1 year ago

This is the sate of art car. Well done. But in Ghana we drive only left hand cars but not right hand cars. Do you have plans to produce left hand cars in future as most of the West African countries use left hand driven cars. Many thanks.

John Waterhouse
John Waterhouse
1 year ago

Seems strange not to note the Renault Kadjar as an obvious alternative? Better interior design, same platform and a very different engine approach.

Alex Rae

Alex Rae