By Staff Writer
Nissan has revealed its third-generation Qashqai crossover SUV. The Qashqai heralded the era of the modern crossover. It went on to become not so much Qashqai, and more like Qashcow- as many motoring journalists have come to refer to it over the years- selling millions worldwide and opening up the floodgates to dozens of rival crossovers and compact SUVs. One could even argue that the global domination by SUV’s is the Qashqai’s doing.
The new Qashqai is offered with a 12 V mild-hybrid system comprising a turbocharged 1.3-litre petrol engine and a lithium-ion battery, in a 102-kW form with a six-speed manual gearbox and in 115 kW guise with a continuously variable transmission (CVT). There is an option of a 1.5-litre version with the Japanese firm’s latest “e‑Power” drive system, which uses what Nissan terms a “world-first” variable compression ratio petrol engine as a dedicated electricity generating unit – basically an electric motor that turns the wheels receiving its power from a petrol engine that acts as a generator.
Riding on the Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi Alliance’s latest Common Module Family (CMF) C-platform, the new Qashqai employs more lightweight material than before. The rear hatch, for instance, is fashioned from a composite material. The crossover employs an updated McPherson strut suspension set-up, with the rear suspension featuring a torsion beam on front-driven models and a multi-link configuration on all-wheel-drive derivatives with 20-inch wheels.
Inside, you’ll find a new 12.3-inch TFT multi-information screen with configurable layouts as well as a 10.8-inch head-up display projecting key information onto the windscreen. The 9-inch infotainment system, meanwhile, is compatible with Android Auto and Apple CarPlay, while a smartphone wireless charging pad is available.
Nissan in Africa is excited to welcome the new edition to the Qashqai family. Having created the crossover segment back in 2006 when the first-generation was revealed, Nissan’s marketing teams all around South and sub-Sahara Africa (SSA) are confident that this new model is a game changer, as Nissan takes the plunge to claim its rightful place as the market leader in the region.
The Qashqai expects to take the brand fight for market share directly to the door step of rivals such as the Kia Sportage, Peugeot 3008 and Toyota Rav4, by leading the way when it comes to style, driver enjoyment and technology, with this third generation.
Like the generations before it, this all-new Qashqai is styled by Nissan’s London studio, developed at its Cranfield Technical Centre and assembled in its Sunderland factory. It is slightly larger than before, being 35-mm longer, 32-mm wider and 25-mm taller, while its wheelbase – the distance between the front and rear wheels, is 20-mm longer.
Up front, the new Qashqai features a completely redesigned front end emblazoned with the now-familiar V-Motion grille along with full LED matrix headlights and signature boomerang-shaped daytime running lights. Deep creases along the full waistline of the car and lower down on the doors enhance the styling improvements. It arguably looks conservative next to the new Hyundai Tucson, and steals admiring glances from drivers of other rival family cars, including the BMW X1, the segment’s luxury brand.
The new Qashqai incorporates a look that, according to designer Matthew Weaver, is all about conveying the sense that it is a more dynamic model. It’s now a more premium car, with diamond-cut alloy wheels and an interior that features a bit of what Weaver calls Japanese DNA, in elements like the wood trim and leather upholstery. Japanese DNA seem obvious, seeing as Nissan is a Japanese car company, as much as the Qashqai is actually far from being Japanese. It’s designed, engineered and manufactured in the UK, making it a more British car than most British cars.
The new models are powered by a 1.3l petrol turbo engine with the addition of electrification. It’s not much though, just a 12V system that provides an additional 6Nm of torque and power for things like the start/stop and highway coasting functions.
The more powerful versions boast of 260 Nm in the six-speed manual and 270 Nm in the xTronic CVT auto. Surprisingly, it is the xTronic that impresses the most, providing smooth and progressive power on demand compared to the manual which need constant gear changes to keep it in the best rev-range.
Comfort levels are good, with lots of effort having been paid to making the ride quieter and removing vibrations. The higher spec models excel here, courtesy of having multilink rear suspension and the feeling that the additional weight from the xTronic gearbox and premium comforts provide a more balanced ride.
The comforts features include lots of technology, such as the nine-inch infotainment system with Apple CarPlay, a 12.3-inch digital instrument cluster and safety systems from blind spot assist to the full ProPilot driver assistance package. There’s also the option of sumptuous Nappa leather to further bolster the feeling of premium luxury. That feeling also comes from more cabin space.
The new Qashqai is definitely a vastly improved package, with a more fashionable design, more tech and more comfort. The electrification might seem like a token gesture, but it’s hard to criticise Nissan, a company that pioneered the modern electric car impetus with its Leaf.
Nissan should hope that this new Qashqai continues the global success of its predecessors and there is little reason to suppose that it won’t. The manufacturer has updated its phenomenally successful formula with sharper styling, a much more modern infotainment system and a ride quality so refined it arguably belongs in a higher and more expensive, class of car.
Yes, the new, 3rd-generation Qashqai is the best it’s ever been. Of course, the competition is throwing everything at it, while what matters most is that the millions of people who love the Qashqai will love this one even more.
The jury is out whether Nissan Kenya will import and offer the Qashqai to local buyers. If they do not, the direct importers will only be too happy to flood the market with this beauty.