I've spent a lot of time behind the wheel of the previous-generation Nissan Qashqai. No, seriously, there's no other car I've spent more time in over the years.
And for what it's worth, I always rated the second generation of the small SUV, mainly because it was surprisingly practical due to its large-for-the-segment size, and pleasingly premium when it came to perceived quality.
So, when the opportunity came up for me to 'own' the new, third-generation model for three months, I quickly jumped at it.
It’s the Qashqai that appeals to me the most on paper, as I live in inner-city Melbourne and don’t have kids.
But it's the Qashqai that appeals to me the most on paper, as I live in inner-city Melbourne and don't have kids, so I don't need a traditional family car. And as much as I would love a sports car as my daily, they're just too impractical.
That said, buckle up for a three-part long-term UrbanGuide review of the 2023 Nissan Qashqai!
The example I've got the keys for is the penultimate variant, the ST-L, which is priced from $42,190, plus on-road costs. It's finished in ever-changing 'Fuji Sunset Red' metallic paintwork with a black roof, which is a $1200 option, bringing the price as tested to $43,390.
The example I’ve got the keys for is the penultimate variant, the ST-L, which is priced from $42,190.
Now, before I explain why that's good value, it's worth pointing out what's under the bonnet.
See, one of my bugbears with the previous Qashqai was its far-from-contemporary 2.0-litre naturally aspirated four-cylinder petrol engine.
The good news (for me, at least) is it's gone, replaced by a much more modern 1.3-litre turbocharged unit, which produces 110kW (+4.0kW) of power at 5500rpm and 250Nm (+50Nm) of torque from 1600-3750rpm.
While I may still long for the Ti’s 10.8-inch head-up display and 10-speaker Bose sound system, I also understand why they’re the reserve of the range-topper.
I'll assess how that combination performs in the third and final instalment of this long-term UrbanGuide review, but it's important to keep in mind when analysing how the new Qashqai measures up against its rivals, including the segment-straddling Kia Seltos and Toyota Corolla Cross.
But before I go too much further, it's worth addressing the elephant in the room: where's the hybrid version? Nissan fans will know the brand is slowly rolling out its 'ePower' technology across its model line-up, and the Qashqai is next in line to receive it in Australia, albeit later in 2023.
It offers great bang for your buck.
You'll have to stay tuned for our review coverage of the Qashqai ePower when it launches, but for now, I'll mention that it will use a series hybrid powertrain, which will combine an electric motor with a petrol engine – but only the former will drive the wheels, as the latter will exclusively act as a power generator for charging the relatively small battery while on the move (think 'range-extenders' like the BMW i3 REx and Holden Volt).
The advantages being having no need to plug in while still providing an EV-like driving experience. So, stay tuned for that.
Now, back to the ST-L I have on test here. As mentioned, it offers great bang for your buck. The 2023 Qashqai's entry-level grade, the ST ($33,890), has an already long list of standard equipment to build upon, after all.
It includes dusk-sensing LED lights, auto-folding side mirrors, 17-inch alloy wheels and keyless entry.
It’s worth noting that the new Qashqai range was given a maximum five-star rating from Australasia’s independent vehicle safety authority, ANCAP.
But inside, there's an 8.0-inch touchscreen multimedia system with digital radio, wired Apple CarPlay and Android Auto support, and a six-speaker sound system alongside push-button start, a 7.0-inch multifunction display and black cloth upholstery.
On the safety front, seven airbags (dual front, side and curtain plus a centre), autonomous emergency braking (with junction assist and pedestrian and cyclist detection), lane-keep assist, active blind-spot monitoring, rear cross-traffic alert, adaptive cruise control, traffic sign recognition, high-beam assist, rear AEB, a reversing camera, rear parking sensors and tyre pressure monitoring are part of the impressive package.
While we're on the topic of safety, it's worth noting that the new Qashqai range was given a maximum five-star rating from Australasia's independent vehicle safety authority, ANCAP.
The small SUV was tested against 2021 protocols, scoring an impressive 91 per cent for Adult Occupant Protection, 93 per cent for Child Occupant Protection, 74 per cent for Vulnerable Road User Protection and 97 per cent for Safety Assist.
Anyway, the next-up ST+ ($37,890) adds rain-sensing wipers, 18-inch alloy wheels, a 12.3-inch touchscreen multimedia system with satellite navigation and wireless Apple CarPlay support, and surround-view cameras. It's the hardest sell in the Qashqai range, in my opinion.
Then, 'my' ST-L adds adaptive LED headlights, 19-inch alloy wheels, roof rails, rear privacy glass, a wireless smartphone charger, dual-zone climate control, heated front seats, an eight-way power-adjustable driver's seat, a leather-trimmed steering wheel with heating, blue/black leather-accented/cloth upholstery, ambient lighting, an auto-dimming rear view mirror, highway assist and front parking sensors. Nice additions, I think you'll agree.
As far as first impressions go, the highest compliment I can pay to the Qashqai ST-L thus far is that it hasn’t truly annoyed me yet.
And at the risk of making myself feel jealous, the flagship Ti ($47,390) also comes with a hands-free power-operated tailgate, a panoramic sunroof, a 12.3-inch digital instrument cluster, a 10.8-inch head-up display, a 10-speaker Bose sound system, massaging front seats, an eight-way power-adjustable passenger seat, blue/black quilted leather-accented upholstery, extended ambient lighting and park assist. Premium features, sure, but not necessary ones.
So, you can now probably see why I think the ST-L is good value. It's loaded and offers the best bang for your buck in the Qashqai line-up.
While I may still long for the Ti's 10.8-inch head-up display and 10-speaker Bose sound system, I also understand why they're the reserve of the range-topper.
Either way, the Qashqai comes with Nissan Australia's five-year/unlimited-kilometre warranty, which is matched with 24/7 roadside assistance.
Both are on par for the Australian market, albeit two years short of that offered by quite a few brands, including heavyweights like Kia and MG.
Servicing-wise, the Qashqai has service intervals of every 12 months or 15,000km, whichever comes first.
Capped-price servicing is available for the first six visits, costing $4024 in total, or an average of $670.67.
the next-up ST+ ($37,890) adds rain-sensing wipers, 18-inch alloy wheels, a 12.3-inch touchscreen multimedia system with satellite navigation and wireless Apple CarPlay support.
In that regard, it's expensive for the segment – but at least six intervals are covered. That's one more than five, after all.
Now, let's talk fuel consumption for a moment. On the combined-cycle test (ADR 81/02), the Qashqai averages 6.1L/100km, with CO2 emissions pegged at 138g/km.
With its 55L fuel tank accepting 95 RON petrol, it has a driving range of 902km. That's pretty damn efficient for a non-hybrid in theory, but what about reality?
Well, the fairer comparison here is with the Qashqai's claimed fuel use on the urban cycle, which is 7.5L/100km. After all, this is an UrbanGuide long-term review.
As such, I spent the vast majority of my first month driving it in city traffic. After 811km, I averaged 9.8L/100km. Not a stellar result – but I've got a heavy right foot, so it'll be interesting to see how it plays out over the next two months.
In the final update, I’ll assess how well it drives and deliver my final verdict. Plenty to look forward to, then.
And that brings to an end the first instalment of this long-term UrbanGuide review. Next month, I'll deep-dive the Qashqai ST-L's design and practicality.
And then in the final update, I'll assess how well it drives and deliver my final verdict. Plenty to look forward to, then.
But as far as first impressions go, the highest compliment I can pay to the Qashqai ST-L thus far is that it hasn't truly annoyed me yet.
Yep, it's already shaping up as a seriously impressive vehicle, but stay tuned for my full thoughts! See you next time.
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