Motoring review – Qash in on luxury

2014-07-18 06:00

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The king of the original crossover concept, Nissan, unveiled the ­updated Qashqai in Joburg ­recently. When the Qashqai was launched locally in 2008, people struggled with the pronunciation and the term “crossover” was an alien concept.

Six years and 20?000 models later in South Africa alone, it has ­become a household name and a firm favourite of soccer mums everywhere. However, the outgoing model looked as ­ordinary as the functional purpose it served. Its ­direct competitor, the ­Hyundai ix35, always looked a little more exciting to me.

But those days are over. So how did Nissan improve on its winning ­family recipe?

Just like Toyota, Nissan is now speaking a contemporary design language, and the handsome new Qashqai’s muscular snout and sleek LED-enhanced headlamps are sure to attract admiring glances. The tidy rear is standard crossover fare and easy on the eyes.

At the launch, we had two models to sample: the 1.6 dCi Acenta CVT (R382?500) and the manual 1.5 dCi Acenta (R330?500). Rising fuel prices and pollution levels mean that smaller, efficient turbo engines are the trend.

I wouldn’t say that either of the two engines felt particularly punchy, but I was impressed by their quiet refinement. The Qashqai’s now roomier cabin is almost eerily quiet with very little road noise even at high speed.

“Are you sure this is a diesel?” my co-driver asked me in the 1.5 dCi Acenta. Later, in the 1.6 dCi Acenta CVT, she exclaimed: “Now this is a car I can drive all the way to Cape Town!”

Pliable suspension, spine-supporting leather seats (leather optional at R10?000 in the pricier CVT and all-wheel drive models) and a luxurious interior kept us cocooned in comfort. Both our test models were fitted with the optional R16?700 Techno Pack (standard in CVT and all-wheel drive models), which included uncomplicated, intuitive navigation via the user-friendly touch screen system, as well as heated front seats and heated mirrors. Parking aid ­(also part of the Techno Pack) is comprehensive. Four cameras deliver a panoramic exterior view of your Qashqai, so you can see exactly how your vehicle is positioned on-screen and if you’re in ­danger of scratching those ­beautiful alloys.

Safety is paramount in the family-oriented Qashqai: six air bags, Bluetooth and other technologically advanced safety equipment (such as traction control to prevent slipping) is standard across the range. An electronic parking brake frees up more space in front and the rear fits three tall adults with room to spare. The generous 430-litre boot houses a full-sized spare wheel.

Prices are slightly steeper, but once you’re enveloped in its sophisticated interior, you’ll understand why.

All prices include a six-year or 150?000km warranty and a five-year or 90?000km service plan.

Prices:

1.2T Visia R281?900

1.2T Acenta R310?100

1.5 dCi Acenta R330?500

1.6 dCi Acenta CVT R382?500

1.6 dCi Acenta AWD R383?800

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