The new 2022 Nissan Qashqai crossover is smarter, safer and better equipped than its predecessor – we drove it in Europe ahead of its launch here later this year.
- High quality cabin and good standard kit
- Excellent five-star safety rating
- Not outstanding M-Hybrid performance (doesn’t come here)
- European spec manual gearbox (does not come here)
Asked to name a British car manufacturer and you’re more likely to think of Land Rover, Jaguar or one of Blighty’s swankier luxury players. But Nissan has long been one of the UK’s largest automakers by volume. With the third generation of British construction 2022 Nissan Qashqai set to reach Australia later this year, we’ve had a spin in its home country to see if it’s worth getting excited about for another entry in the hard-fought baby SUV segment.
Let me start by saying this was no comparable Australian spec car. The UK market Qashqais comes with a mild-hybrid version of Nissan’s 1.3-litre turbocharged four-cylinder petrol engine, which peaks at 116kW and 260Nm. Australia will get a non-hybrid version that’s supposed to be good for 110kW and 250Nm.
Brits are also still able to order manual Qashqais, a CVT auto will be standard for us. Our test car came with the bizarre combination of the six-speed shifter and fully loaded Tekna+ trim, which is roughly equivalent to what the Qashqai Ti will offer here.
In fact, not quite. While Nissan has confirmed that the plush Qashqais bound for Australia will get the company’s sleek new 12.3-inch infotainment touchscreen, our test car settled for the 9-inch launch version. .0 inches. Don’t worry, you can see the larger display in the images from our story on the new system last month.
|2022 Nissan Qashqai|
|Boot volume||504L seats up|
Few buyers will come to this part of the market looking for a scintillating steering, but even taking into account the differences between UK and Australian specification, the driving experience of the new Qashqai doesn’t seem very special. We should certainly be glad the manual gearbox doesn’t come here, as it has a cogged and slightly slack shift action, with a harsh clutch engagement that makes it difficult to start smoothly.
Although the turbo engine pulls hard once boosted, it has a no-boost backcountry at the bottom of its rev range, which also hampers smooth low-speed progression. Another problem that our standard CVT should solve.
While the European mild-hybrid engine is marginally more powerful, performance should be almost identical. With the manual gearbox, the Euro-Qashqai is supposed to be able to ship the 0 to 100 km/h in 9.5 seconds; barely scintillating by modern standards, but it actually felt respectably snappy on the road, with enough gusto that the front-drive wheels scrambled for traction when thrown briskly.
My test car also sat on huge 20-inch alloys, an inch bigger than the largest option in Australia. These certainly looked good, but were probably largely responsible for a lumpy ride when asked to deal with Britain’s low-grade tarmac. The base suspension is clearly quite soft, resulting in substantial vertical movement over bumps, but giving the Qashqai a plush feel on smoother surfaces.
Steering is direct and offers respectably crisp front-end responses, albeit with little noticeable feedback. It’s definitely a car that feels happiest when going smoothly, but that’s no surprise, is it?
Beyond its lukewarm dynamics, the rest of the Qashqai is actually pretty good. It certainly doesn’t lack visual impact thanks to strong front graphics with a triangular grille and narrow headlights. The body uses Nissan’s origami-inspired design language with sharp contours and a greenhouse that tapers towards the rear of the car, and it’s well proportioned given its 4425mm overall length.
The tailgate has a coupe-like profile, but visibility through the narrow rear window is decent from inside the cabin. As in Australia, the top of the range also comes with electric operation for the trunk.
It also impresses inside. Nissan seems to be past its era of rough, low-rent cabin trim, with the Qashqai getting a well-designed and well-finished cabin. The dash and door trim get a leather-effect finish that looks and feels premium by segment standards, and the decision to retain conventional HVAC controls instead of a screen interface allows for simple and easy navigation. intuitive.
The digital instrument pack is well designed, but the display screen has a lower resolution than a fancier rival, and although my test car’s 9.0-inch touchscreen has a generation behind the one we’re going to run cleanly and was easy to navigate, including wireless Apple CarPlay integration. Front and rear seat occupants have USB-A and USB-C connectors for charging.
Space is impressive for this part of the market, with a huge range of driving position adjustments; I am 180cm tall and with the motorized seat in its most rearward position I could barely touch the pedals. And despite the full-length panoramic glass roof that will come with the Ti trim, there was still plenty of headroom.
Using all the room up front will have an obvious effect on the space left for rear passengers, but I could comfortably sit behind me although the rear door opening is a bit small for adults. Although there are three seat belts in the rear, the Qashqai is certainly best considered a four-seater; the center rear is narrow and tight with a folding armrest behind it. The boot is smaller than many rivals, at just 436 liters of volume with the rear seats in place, and with an underfloor tray for valuables.
All Qashqais are equipped with an impressive suite of active safety technologies, including AEB, lane keeping, blind spot monitoring, cross traffic alert, traffic sign recognition and high beams automatic. It has already achieved a five-star EuroNCAP rating, including scores of 91% for adult and child occupant performance, and 95% for active safety features.
More expensive versions include a 360-degree camera system for low-speed maneuvering, automatic parking, and Nissan’s ProPilot cruise control with lane keeping. It struggled with lane marking on narrower roads, but handled high-speed highways well.
Offering ProPilot in the European Qashqai equipped with a manual gearbox created an odd feeling, with the system requiring me to regain control whenever the gear got too low for the gear the car was in. It should play much better with an automatic gearbox where it will feature a three second stop-and-go function for crawling traffic.
|Key details||2022 Nissan Qashqai (UK)|
|Engine||1.3-litre four-cylinder turbocharged mild hybrid|
|Power||116 kW at 5,500 rpm|
|Couple||260 Nm at 1800 rpm|
|Reader type||Front-wheel Drive|
The new Qashqai is not an exceptional car, nor an adrenaline-pumping rocket. But it’s a decent all-rounder, and it’s not hard to see its combination of equipment, quality and comfort appealing in the sensitive part of the market it’s aimed at. Assuming Nissan prices it competitively when it arrives in Australia in the second half, the company could end up with modest success.
Since Mike drove the Qashqai in the UK, Australian prices have been announced, with a range that starts at $33,890 for the ST and climbs to $47,390 (plus road charges) for the Ti. This puts the new Qashqai in line with the prices of the new Honda HR-V and cars like the 2008 Peugeot, Mazda CX-30 and Mini Countryman.
For more on the Qashqai e-Power due in Australia in 2023, check out Rob Margeit’s first international reader of this model.