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2015 Nissan QASHQAI : Current Models

For Nissan, confused naming protocols are not new.

Questions were asked, for example, when the Pulsar became the Tiida in 2006 (although there was no confusion about the reasons for resuming the Pulsar name a few years later) and today, many of us are still wondering why the Dualis is now the QASHQAI

Greater minds, however, than those here at motoring.com.au have pondered these decisions and, whether we like it or not, Australia has now adopted the QASHQAI nameplate already in use in other world markets. Maybe it’s all to do with challenging linguists on correct pronunciation (QASHQAI is 'kash kei' by the way).

If the name change is confusing, the car itself isn’t.

Unlike the Dualis, the QASHQAI is only available in one wheelbase and there is no such thing as a seven-seat or an all-wheel drive version. It’s five-seat and front-wheel drive only and, even though it ends up being slightly longer and wider than the previous short-wheelbase version of the Dualis, the footprint hasn’t changed all that much – though it appears to have managed a bit of weight loss.

With its wheelbase, overall length and width slightly increased over the previous five-seat Dualis, the QASHQAI is not lacking space for five passengers and doesn’t do too badly for luggage accommodation either.

In fact it’s a passenger-friendly car. With the new-generation seats claimed to offer elevated levels of comfort and support, good all-round legroom and a nicely-judged hip point allowing easy cabin access.

The boot offers a seats-up capacity of 430 litres backed up by a simple, easy-fold 60:40 rear backrest that provides a flat load space throughout, and a handy, split-level rear floor that allows room for secure storage of valued items.

The interior, in the $28,490 (before on-road costs) CVT-equipped ST version tested here, is well presented too, with soft-touch materials extending to the passenger’s side dash pad and generally high levels of control tactility. The QASHQAI’s touchy-feely ratings are high for the small SUV category and there are no complaints about driver ergonomics – all controls, including those on the leather-rimmed steering wheel, are arranged in conventional, easy-to-understand fashion.

The five-star ANCAP rated QASHQAI ST also gets a reversing camera with a five-inch colour LED screen, a nice, deep centre cubby-armrest between the front seats, LED daytime running lights, 17-inch alloy wheels and an electric park brake. Although it lacks the $34,990 Ti CVT version’s standard sat-nav, dual-zone climate-control, sunroof, 19-inch wheels and LED headlights – plus a host of safety aids including blind-spot warning, lane-departure warning and Moving Object Detection – there’s no real feeling of being short-changed.

However, the drive experience tends to fall a tad behind the general packaging, safety and finesse seen elsewhere in the QASHQAI ST.

The all-new (with a quicker ratio) electric power steering still errs on the slow side with 3.2 turns required to go from lock-to-lock. This contributes to the QASHQAI feeling a little imprecise and reluctant on give and take roads. The car feels secure enough, but asks for a bit of work from the driver to track accurately.

On the credit side, the QASHQAI shares its basic underpinnings, via the Nissan-Renault CMF C/D modular platform, with the latest X-TRAIL and does a good job of absorbing road shock. The ride is satisfyingly comfortable. Probably the main downside is the transference of a tad more road noise into the cabin at cruising speeds than you’d hope for.

The 106kW/200Nm 2.0-litre petrol engine is helped along by the Xtronic continuously variable transmission (CVT), which was further developed for the QASHQAI to behave in a fashion that partly mimics a conventional automatic by adopting stepped upshifts under hard acceleration. This avoids the high-rpm shriek often associated with a hard-worked CVT, while under more-gentle conditions a regular stepless upshift programme is employed.

The result is that the four-cylinder engine copes easily with the 1400kg (plus a bit) QASHQAI, cruising at around 2100rpm at 100km/h and readily accessing the torque band when a bit of acceleration is required.

We didn’t expect the QASHQAI to meet the claimed 6.9L/100km ADR Combined fuel consumption figure and weren’t surprised when, over a week of driving around town and on the freeways, our average worked out to 8.1. A concerted attempt would undoubtedly improve on that, but under normal driving circumstances we think our figure would be pretty representative.

So how does the QASHQAI fit into Nissan’s heavily SUV-centric model line-up?

While it’s a small step down from the new-generation X-TRAIL, and no longer even bothers with offering an AWD option, the QASHQAI is not that far removed from SUVs that would once have been considered as belonging to a different (larger) category.

The QASHQAI might not make a significantly bigger footprint than the Dualis, but it does edge closer to the likes of Mazda’s CX-5 and Honda’s CR-V. But with an entry price that dips close to $25,000 and a maximum price short of $39,000 (both before on-road costs), it retains an attractive price advantage.

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Sources : Nissan QASHQAI Photo | Nissan QASHQAI Article

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