Nissan Qashqai becomes a hatch in SUV clothing


NISSAN is getting tough with the Qashqai compact SUV as it chases more than 1200 sales a month.

The soft-roader previously known as the Dualis has had a midlife makeover that is more about parts replacement than cosmetic surgery.

Beyond the expected frontal tweaks and a shiny new steering wheel, the engineers have replaced every suspension component with stronger, less bendy bits. The result is improved roadholding at the expense of some of the mild manners for which that last version was known.

The diesel option has been deleted in response to buyers' dislike of oilburners in this class, which ranges from the dynamic ability of the Mazda CX-3 and Volkswagen Tiguan to the pricepoint relevance of the Mitsubishi ASX.

Newly arrived Nissan Australia managing director Stephen Lester says the Qashqai has to maintain relevance as buyers' tastes change.

Qasghqai: New frontal treatment but styling is familiar.
Qasghqai: New frontal treatment but styling is familiar.

"There's not just one competitor as there was when the Dualis was brought into Australia (in 2008). There are now 28," he says. "We're competing with the best of them and this car is a response to customer surveys that called for more technology and a sportier ride."

Nissan Australia can't clarify if that global request was mirrored by local owners. Given the last model tallied more than 38,000 sales since 2014, Nissan can't afford to get it wrong.

The other significant updates relate to improved noise reduction and the inclusion of autonomous emergency braking and blind-spot monitoring on the three spec levels. Nissan expects the sales split to be roughly equal.

Improved stance: Nissan has replaced every suspension component in the Qashqai.
Improved stance: Nissan has replaced every suspension component in the Qashqai.

Prices start at $26,490 plus on-roads for the ST, topping out at $37,990 for the Ti version. The latter is due in the middle of next year with the likes of adaptive cruise control and active lane keeping, where the car auto-steers to stay between the lines. Revised front and rear bumpers add 17mm to the Qashqai's length but width and height are unchanged.



The steering wheel is the first point of contact in the new Qashqai and it feels far more premium than its predecessor. The buttons are now flush with the wheel and not painted a plasticised low-rent chrome.

Subtle adjustment to the interior quality include touch points in soft plastic. The infotainment set-up uses app-like tiles to make navigation simpler for the smartphone set.

The continuously variable transmission has seven presets to emulate a conventional automatic and largely avoids the dreaded drone. It flares under hard acceleration between 5250rpm-6000rpm but is far more reserved when driven up to city pace or when slowing.

Cabin subtleties: The steering wheel has a premium feel and the plastics are superior.
Cabin subtleties: The steering wheel has a premium feel and the plastics are superior.

Performance, as with most vehicles in this segment, is good rather than great. The Qashqai's naturally aspirated engine gets serious at about 4000rpm, which means the CVT has to match those levels to unleash its top torque.

The suspension has been overhauled, from bushes to bump stops. Owners of previous models wanted a firmer ride and Nissan has obliged.

Roll bars, dampers and springs are thicker and the Qashqai consequently sits like a sporty hatch more than an SUV - existing owners trading up to the new versions may need time to adjust to this.

This car will get the jitters at low-speed over slight corrugations where the outgoing version had a softer, more relaxed ride that reduced the bump impact but had more fore and aft cabin pitching.

Ticket to ride: The overhauled suspension endows a sportier attitude.
Ticket to ride: The overhauled suspension endows a sportier attitude.

There is an upside: the bigger the hit, the better the Qashqai behaves. The SUV tackles big speed humps with aplomb and, even over a stretch of rim-crushing potholes, rides without effort.

Nissan has sharpened the steering ratio to improve cornering response and it has made the change of direction marginally faster. Whether it returns to centre any quicker is debatable.



Nissan is working hard to keep the Qashqai relevant and this makeover does enough to achieve that. It will appeal to buyers coming from firmly sprung passenger cars; the suspension might present a challenge for the Qashqai faithful.



PRICE The base ST is $26,490 for the six-speed manual, a rise of $500 that's offset by active safety aids. The continuously variable transmission - standard on all other grades - adds $2500. The new ST-L variant adds bigger wheels, seven-inch screen with satnav and power driver's seat for $32,990 plus on-roads. The headline act (for now) is the N-Tec at $36,490 with auto headlamps, panoramic sunroof, more safety tech and semi-automated parking.

Base ST version: Manual starts at $26,490.
Base ST version: Manual starts at $26,490.

TECH All versions are fitted with autonomous emergency braking and lane-departure warning software. Top-tier examples pick up blind-spot and rear cross-traffic alert, along with active lane keeping. Smartphone mirroring is standard.

PERFORMANCE Given this is a midlife update, Nissan hasn't touched the 2.0-litre engine and CVT. They're no dynamic duo but they are ideally suited to this category and match such rivals as the Mazda CX-3, Mitsubishi ASX and Honda HR-V.

DRIVING Customer feedback got Nissan to stiffen the suspension and ditch the pillowy ride of the previous iteration. Some will love the way the Qashqai sits flatter when cornering, others may not be as impressed with the way it jiggles over road ripples. The feel behind the wheel is now far more sedan-like than SUV.

DESIGN The changes are skin deep, with the expected tweaks. There are a more pronounced grille and revised foglights, shark-fin antenna and new designs for the 17 to 19-inch wheels. Existing owners may notice; others will struggle to pick the difference unless the cars are side by side. The flat-bottomed steering wheel is far more obvious and the control buttons now look integrated rather than apparent add-ons.



Nissan Qashqai $26,490-$37,990


WARRANTY 3 years/100,000km (so-so)

SERVICE $746 for 3 years/30,000km (average)

ENGINE 2.0-litre 4-cyl, 106kW/200Nm (ordinary)

SAFETY 5 stars, 6 airbags, AEB, lane departure (smart)

THIRST 6.9L-7.7L/100km (manual)

CARGO 430L (impressive)

SPARE Space-saver (typical)

Topics:  2018 nissan qashqai car advice motoring motoring advice nissan australia nissan qashqai review road test

New farming minister based in city

Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk (right) and Innovation, Tourism and Commonwealth Games Minister Kate Jones walk away in front of Labor caucus.

New faces in Queensland cabinet

Coconut Cherry Biscuits

Enjoy these delicious Coconut and Cherry Biscuits, with a gluten free adaption, perfect for the festive season.

Enjoy these deliciously light biscuits with a gluten-free adaption

Local Partners

‘Love diet’: Tziporah Malkah’s 19kg weight loss

SHE tipped the scales at 120kg and was classified as “morbidly obese” by her doctor. But now the model once known as Kate Fischer has dropped the weight.

Five festive foods to eat guilt-free

Prawns are one of the healthiest foods on the Christmas table. Picture: Alex Coppel

Christmas foods you can eat to your heart’s content

10 girls names shooting up the charts in 2018

Generic baby photo.

Got a little girl arriving in 2018? We got you covered.

'Thirsty' Kmart mums fond of hunky Mackay sparky

Mackay's Laura Ryan was overwhelmed with comments from her post about a make-up table on Kmart Mums Australia, with mums across the nation fawning over her partner Lloyd Westwood snapped mid-DIY project.

A SEEMINGLY innocent post about a DIY project quickly turned viral

The kid earning $14.6m a year

Ryan from Ryan ToysReview is a YouTube star. Picture: YouTube

Meet the kid making $14.6 million a year reviewing toys on YouTube

Mum: ‘completely inappropriate’ to drink alcohol around kids

This mum has had it with the mandatory drinking that goes down at every gathering this time of year

Mum says drinking at 2pm at kids' event inappropriate