The new Nissan Qashqai has the practicality of a car designed for families or young adventurers, with the elegant comforts of a more superior luxury SUV, writes Alex Luttrell.
Sometimes it's the little things that can set you apart from the pack, and that is exactly what Nissan has been able to achieve with its latest Qashqai Ti.
The Qashqai Ti went on sale in July, with upgrades focused on a new exterior design, interior enhancement, the addition of new Nissan Intelligent Mobility (NIM) active safety technologies and improvements to ride quality, noise, handling and vibrations.
The Qashqai's exterior is uniquely rounded compared to many compact SUVs on the market, and when you step inside you wouldn't think this is a family car.
The interior includes all the creature comforts of a more high-end luxury car, with Nappa leather-accented seats that feature 3D quilting and soft cushioning.
The seats, which are also heated, have memory positions and electric lumbar support for driver and front passenger comfort. Dual zone climate control, rain sensing wipers, flat-bottomed leather accented steering wheel and a large panoramic glass roof made the interior of the Ti a very pleasant place to spend some time.
I took the Qashqai on what would be a typical weekend route through the suburbs, the city and finally onto the rural highways and coastal roads of Tasmania's south-east.
I felt very comfortable and confident driving around Hobart thanks to the luxurious interior and high-tech features at my disposal. However, driving on the Arthur Highway to Primrose Sands and along the back roads to Dunalley was where this car felt most at home.
At 106kW and 200Nm, the 2L, four-cylinder petrol engine is not going to break any land speed records. However, combined with an excellent stepping CVT automatic transmission, it was more than capable both around town and on the open road.
I strolled around the twists and turns of the south-east with effortlessness, with the steering heavy enough to be comfortable while maintaining reasonable responsiveness. Ride comfort was exceptional even though the Ti is fitted with lower profile tyres on 19" alloys. If I had one complaint it was some excessive road noise from the tyres.
According to the official combined cycle testing, the Qashqai uses 6.9L of standard unleaded petrol per 100km. My real world experience was a little higher than that at 8L/100km.
In terms of safety technology, the Qashqai features include intelligent cruise control, which reduces the car's speed and maintains a gap between the cars in front; lane departure warning, which alerts the driver if the car starts to veer into another lane; and intelligent lane intervention, which taps the brakes to gently guide you back if you drift.
Also included as part of the long list of standard safety features are a 360-degree monitor with moving object detection, autonomous emergency braking with forward collision warning, driver attention alert to monitor behavioural changes, blind spot warning and an auto-dimming rear-view mirror to reduce high beam headlight glare.
And for those who don't like parking, intelligent park assist can make it a bit more of a joyous task thanks to Nissan's self-parking technology.
More standard features include front and rear parking sensors, a reversing camera, hill start assist, brake assist, electric park brake with auto hold, Bluetooth, push button start, satellite navigation, seven inch infotainment screen and 430L of boot space expanding to a huge 1598L with the rear seats folded down.
With a drive away price of just over $41,600, the Qashqai Ti offers reasonable value given the long list of standard luxury and safety features. Nissan is also offering an extended five-year warranty until the end of November.
Qashqai is one of the largest vehicles in the small SUV class and is well capable of handling a young family or the more adventuresome among us.
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