Words: Calvin Chan
Photography: Calvin Chan
Published: June 26, 2017
MONTREAL, Quebec - Qashqai [cash-kai]. Canadians might not be familiar with this moniker, but the Nissan Qashqai has been around for over ten years, selling like hotcakes overseas in Europe. Since then, the Japanese automaker has delivered over three million of these subcompact crossovers to customers who desire a spacious, well-packaged, and affordable means of personal transportation.
So it only makes sense for Nissan to finally introduce it to the Canadian market where the subcompact crossover market has been booming exponentially. Surely, they aren’t going to let the Mazda CX-3 and Honda HR-V have all the pie. The Chevrolet Trax and Subaru Crosstrek are fighting in the ring as well. Even Ford had the same idea, and are launching their all-new EcoSport later this year.
In fact, Nissan believes the Qashqai will be the second best-selling vehicle in their lineup, only to be trumped in sales by the slightly larger Rogue, the latter of which was Canada’s fourth-best selling SUV in 2016, right below the Toyota RAV4, Ford Escape, and Honda CR-V.
Nissan says the Qashqai offers the best of both worlds between a compact car and a crossover, appealing to customers living the urban lifestyle and want a car that is easy to drive and park, but has all the capability and storage of an SUV. After spending some quality time with the Qashqai in both rural and downtown Montreal, I’d say they’re correct.
Think of the Qashqai as a mini-Rogue. It’s got the same looks, grill, stance, and even the interiors look alike, with carried-over steering wheels, knobs, and buttons. The Qashqai sits 98 mm lower than the Rogue and is 250 mm shorter too, yet it’s nearly as wide. The signature V-motion grill is there, and from afar you’d be hard pressed to tell them apart.
Being lower and smaller than the Rogue allows the Qashqai to handle much better. Dare I call it sporty, but I think the Americans already have (south of the border, Qashqai has been renamed to “Rogue Sport”). The Qashqai is incredibly easy to drive - its small stature, elevated ride height, and excellent outward visibility make it a phenomenal city car. We had no problem navigating through the crowded streets of Old Montreal, dodging rush hour demons and lost jaywalking tourists.
The Qashqai is a fun and darty little crossover, but there are some features it's missing to justify that sporty claim, namely paddle shifters and a quicker steering rack. What I do applaud is the offering of a manual transmission with base S models, a Canadian-exclusive. Nissan Canada says they argued quite hard with the upper echelons to make this happen, and also to competitively lower the base price to under $20,000. Though we’re not sure what the take rate may be on three pedals, we’re just glad it's an option for those out there who want to row their own gears.
The other transmission of choice is a Continuously Variable Transmission (CVT), which does quite an excellent job taming the exclusive 2.0-litre inline-four engine under the hood. It’s the sole engine choice, and delivers a healthy 141 hp and 147 lb-ft of torque with FWD and AWD setups available.
Acceleration is rather sluggish despite the CVT working overtime to squeeze every inch of pulp at wide open throttle. It’s not the most confident highway overtaker, so don’t go storming the castle in haste. The CVT works well in this application though, with manual “gear” selection via plopping the shifter to the left. It will drop “gears” accordingly to simulate a downshift, and we did find it marginally helpful in assisting acceleration. Unfortunately, we didn’t get a chance to test the six-speed manual.
The ride was on the firm side, though it made up for itself in the handling department, where the Qashqai tackled corners shockingly flat without any of that top-heavy feeling you’d normally expect from a jacked up crossover. You do feel the bumps a bit more than you do in the Honda HR-V, but it’s also better damped than the playfully stiff Mazda CX-3.
The interior packaging stood out. The Qashqai’s cabin is spacious and offers a feeling of airiness. It may not be as stylish as the CX-3 or as welcoming as the HR-V, but it exudes sportiness and functionality with a new D-cut steering wheel, a roomy center console, and supportive cloth or leather seats depending on the trim you choose. Interior quality is fitting of its price point, which is to say it’s not luxurious feeling but enough to put the word “cheap” at the back of the closet.
What impressed me most was the rear seat accommodations.
Where I would normally contort myself and dread getting into the back seat of an HR-V or CX-3, the Qashqai is surprisingly spacious for my six-foot stature. I can sit there with my back straight against the seatback, and still have extra legroom and headroom to spare. In this subcompact segment, that’s a rarity. Four adults will have no problems commuting in this car, with five beginning to crowd the shoulder room.
In fact, we had the opportunity to sit in a Rogue right after the Qashqai, and you do notice that the former is bigger in nearly every dimension, but I feel like 90% of customers will be content with the Qashqai’s offerings. So much so that I’m a little worried the new Q might cannibalize sales of its bigger brother, but Nissan doesn’t seem worried, as they believe they cater towards different markets: Rogue for the bigger suburban families, and the Qashqai for young city dwellers.
Regardless of which market you fall into, it’s hard not to fall in love with the Qashqai. The audacious Nitro Lime paint adorned on our tester had me sold, along with its tauter looks and aggressive stance. It’s a handsome vehicle, and probably the best looking on the lot.
The 2017 Nissan Qashqai offers four main trims: S, SV, SL, and SL Platinum. The Qashqai S 6MT FWD ($19,998) stands as the base model with a six-speed manual, front-wheel drive, 16-inch wheels, rear view camera, Bluetooth connectivity, heated front seats, and heated exterior mirrors to name the notables. A CVT will cost an additional $2,000, with AWD an additional $2,200 on top of that.
The middle-tier SV ($24,598 FWD; $26,798 AWD), is the predicted volume seller, offering larger 17-inch wheels, remote engine start, a heated and wrapped leather steering wheel, power moonroof, dual-zone automatic temperature control, and front fog lights. It’s an attractive bundle for not a lot of coin, falling in line with the comparably equipped HR-V LX and CX-3 GS. It’s probably the trim I’d opt for as well.
For those with a little extra money to spend, the SL ($29,498) will impress with 19-inch wheels, roof rails, power driver’s seat with lumbar support, leather seats, GPS navigation, and a 360-degree camera view. Odd to see navigation only offered at this nearly-$30k price bracket but the HR-V does the same. The CX-3 offers navigation on every trim, while the Chevrolet Trax is advantageously equipped with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.
However, if you want Nissan’s full suite of safety and driver assistance technology, you’d have to buckle up for the SL Platinum ($32,198). This includes blind spot warning, lane departure warning, lane intervention, intelligent cruise control, automatic emergency braking with pedestrian detection, and high beam assist. Frankly, the SL Platinum will fall out of most buyer’s price ranges, and I feel it would have been a wiser move to offer the safety tech and navigation as separate options available on every trim.
The 2017 Nissan Qashqai goes on sale this month, and whether or not you’re able to pronounce it correctly, the Qashqai is poised to be Nissan’s definitive cash cow crossover. With handsome looks, a spacious cabin, and impressive handling dynamics, permanent resident status on this side of the pond seems to be guaranteed.
型号 Model: 2017 Nissan Qashqai SV AWD
顏色 Paint Type: Nitro Lime
廠方建議售價 Base Price: $19,998 (S, manual transmission, FWD)
試車售價 Price as Tested: $26,798 (SV, AWD)
軸距 Wheelbase(mm): 2,646
長闊 Length/Width/Height (mm): 4,380 / 1,838 / 1,587
車重 Curb weight (kg): 1,530 (SV AWD)
引擎 Engine: 2.0-litre inline-four (transverse)
最大馬力 Horsepower: 141 hp @ 6,000 rpm
最高扭力 Torque: 147 lb-ft @ 4,400 rpm
波箱 Transmission: CVT / 6-speed manual
擺佈 Engine & Drive Configuration: Front engine, FWD/AWD
油耗 Fuel Consumption ( City / Highway / Combined ) L/100km: 9.1 / 7.5 / 8.4 (AWD)
輪胎尺碼 Tires: 215/60R17 (SV)