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Funky Name, Great Value

The 2017 Nissan Qashqai


November 22, 2017
by David Miller

From the October 2017 print edition

The all-new Nissan Qashqai went on sale in June 2017, and within three months it has already topped the Canadian subcompact crossover charts for the month of August. For a new nameplate that’s not an easy accomplishment, as it looks to battle with an all-refreshed Subaru Crosstrek for the remainder of the year.

The Qashqai name itself has raised a few eyebrows (it’s called the Rogue Sport in the US), but from a sales standpoint it’s clear that it hasn’t become a deterrent. A lot of that has to do with its impressive combination of price, comfort, design and versatility.

We can talk about many features of a brand-new vehicle, but what typically attracts consumer attention starts and ends with price. Nissan’s marketing team has managed to set the cost of the Qashqai just under the $20,000 threshold, at $19,998. Great value is offered at that price, but unless you want the manual transmission, one would have to move up to at least $21,998 for its automatic continuously variable transmission (CVT).

The Qashqai may be new to Canada, but it’s been a success story since its 2007 arrival, quickly becoming one of Europe’s best-selling SUV/crossover vehicles with over 2.5-million units sold.

For years, it was felt that the Qashqai was too similar in size to its Rogue sibling, but with a growing appetite for utility vehicles and existing success overseas, it was the right time to come to the North American market. The smaller crossover slots in-between the Rogue and the niche Juke with hopes of filling that void in the market, plugged in most recent years by new entries in the Honda HR-V, Mazda CX-3 and Jeep Renegade.

The Qashqai is built off of the same platform of the Rogue and takes on similar styling, which isn’t a bad thing. It just comes in a smaller form with reductions in length (250 mm), height (98 mm) and wheelbase (60 mm).

Many of the Rogue’s signature touches are featured on the Qashqai including its V-Motion grille, swept-back headlights and boomerang-shaped taillights. Outside of its size, discernible differences are found in its sleeker grille and circular fog lights. Along the body, sporty creases and a curvaceous hatchback rear provide character that complements its compact frame.

Inside, the Qashqai offers up a healthy dose of headroom and legroom in both rows for four adults. Its sloping roofline may appear to cut off headroom in the rear, but surprisingly my six-foot frame fit comfortably with room to spare. Versatility and cargo space can be question marks in the compact crossover segment, but Nissan turns those into positives with a 60/40 rear seat split, an available Divide-N-Hide cargo system in the trunk, and second row cargo volume at 1,730L (1,982L in the Rogue). However, when the second row is folded upward, cargo space shrinks to 643L, a drastic decline compared to 1,113 found in the Rogue, but not so much with actual competitors in the segment.

Moving up trims, consumers will be treated to a heated leather-wrapped flat-bottom steering wheel, power moon roof, an around-view monitor, and a plethora of safety technology, but it should be noted that all trims have standard heated front seats and a rear view camera.

Like most compact crossovers, the Qashqai’s appeal won’t be coming from its performance. There’s nothing wrong with its 2.0L, four-cylinder engine that cranks out 141hp and 147lbs-ft of torque; there’s just nothing exciting about. It gets the job done seamlessly working through its CVT in a calm and quiet manner.

As aforementioned, a six-speed manual is offered up only in the base trim, but unless you’re in a money pinch or simply need to have a manual, the automatic version is the smoother option with better fuel efficiency rated at 8.8L/100 km in the city and 7.3L/100 km on the highway in all-wheel drive (9.1 city and 7.5 highway in all-wheel-drive).

The Qashqai can be a perfect errand runner. It gets up to speed at a decent pace, while soaking up divots in the road while cruising. It’s ideal in an urban setting where it can weave its way through traffic, perform three-point turns with ease, and perhaps most important, fit its frame into small parallel parking spots.

The only drawback can be felt in its steering. There were a few occasions on sweeping turns where steering correction needed to be employed. Other than that, the Qashqai performed admirably, and for a price starting at under $20,000, it’s hard to go wrong with this new crossover entry and its funky name.