- Long overdue, Nissan has finally launched a new version of its pioneering Qashqai.
- The third-generation Qashqai is powered by a 1.3-litre engine as shared with the Mercedes-Benz A-Class.
- Pricing for the new range starts from R568 200.
Even with its difficult-to-pronounce name, few can argue against the significant role that the original Nissan Qashqai played in defining the modern crossover segment. Sixteen years later, the third-generation car arrives in South Africa with a slightly different mandate.
Launched in 2006, the appeal of the first-generation Nissan Qashqai was that while it offered similarly practical interior dimensions as its popular family hatchbacks counterparts of the time, via its raised ride height and quirky styling, it introduced an altogether less serious means of travelling from A to B in an urban environment. Later, joined by the similarly mould-breaking Juke package, these two crossovers would play a significant role in broadening the global appeal of the Nissan brand.
The relative success of these two models as understudies to the ever-popular X-Trail SUV would also be considered once this Japanese manufacturer introduced its Nissan NEXT plans in 2020. With a newfound focus on sustainability and future profitability, the brand also announced that it would prioritise developing crossovers and SUVs.
Newfound poise and sophistication
Built at Nissan's recently refurbished Sunderland facility, like a teenager returning from college, the third-generation Qashqai has shed some of its boyhood exuberance in favour of newfound poise and sophistication. While the new car boasts suitably sharper exterior lines guaranteed to make it stand out from the crowd, a corresponding stretch in nearly every dimension – height, length, width and wheelbase – compared with the outgoing model has realised more interior and packing space than before.
While Nissan South Africa is looking to an early 2023 launch date for a new "ePower" hybrid derivative, for the time being, the new Qashqai is offered exclusively with a 1.3-litre, four-cylinder turbo petrol motor that's currently shared with the Mercedes-Benz A-Class.
Where the German model features a dual-clutch transmission, in the Nissan, this impressively refined 110kW/250 Nm unit is mated with a CVT.
Far from proving a traditional hindrance to overall performance, though, it's to the Japanese brand's credit that this is one the finest examples of a CVT experienced to date. We averaged 7.5-litres/100km throughout our predominantly urban test drive. With a manual transmission in the entry-level Visia specification, Nissan hopes its top-of-the-range Acenta Plus derivative will garner much of the buying public's early attention to the new Qashqai.
Evolved, larger overall footprint
The pricing on this model – despite a relatively generous level of standard specification – places it among some particularly strong competition, both from the burgeoning Chinese brands and the likes of Kia, Hyundai and VW.
Indeed, stripped of only a few high-end safety features and riding on 18- as opposed to 19-inch alloy wheels, it's the mid-spec Acenta model (available with a two-tone paint finish) that looks likely to offer the most compelling blend between one of the most refined interior applications that Nissan has ever signed-off, one of the quietest cabins in this segment and a particularly impressive turbo petrol drivetrain.
If anything, despite its evolved, larger overall footprint and newfound levels of poise, the Qashqai loses out against its modern rivals in the area's ultimate interior spaciousness and versatility.
While the Qashqai will once again play understudy to an all-new X-Trail SUV in the coming months, we suspect Nissan South Africa will be keenly looking toward filling the gap that now exists between the compact Magnite and the new grown-up Qashqai. Time for the Kicks?
Nissan Qashqai 1.3T Visia manual - R568 200
Nissan Qashqai 1.3T Acenta CVT - R639 400
Nissan Qashqai 1.3T Acenta CVT 2-tone - R644 800
Nissan Qashqai 1.3T Acenta Plus CVT - R670 600
Prices include a 3-year or 90 000km service plan (optional on Visia) and Nissan's 6-year or 150 000km warranty.