It’s always nice to have a little bit more. Like chocolate bars that come in ‘king size’ allowing that all-important extra bite. Or that mini-series on TV that begins with a double episode. Whatever way you look at it, a good thing is only really bettered by more of a good thing. With that in mind Nissan has taken its current good thing, the big-selling Qashqai and given it just a little bit more size. The enlarged Qashqai +2 now has the space for a third row of seating, allowing two more passengers and boosting total potential capacity to seven occupants. While the Qashqai was a gamble at the start being billed as a modern alternative to the traditional hatchback it was a risk that paid off handsomely, with more than 500,000 sales globally. Then it was facelifted for 2010 and has since been well received again. But is this larger +2 model a step too far? Car and SUV spent some time with the part crossover, part people mover to get the answers.
At first glance it’s difficult to distinguish the Qashqai +2 from its standard sibling, but look closer and its dimensions are clearly chunkier. The +2 is 211mm longer to allow for the extra seat and the wheelbase has increased by 135mm. Additionally the body is taller with a flatter roofline allowing for better headroom throughout and there’s a handy 55-litres of extra cargo space. In terms of exterior design the +2 differs little from the standard model and benefits from the smoother look brought with the recent mid-cycle facelift. Raked headlights at the front and LED two-piece fittings at the rear help give the Qashqai a distinctive look but the standard 16-inch alloys struggle to fill the raised guards. The larger Qashqai boasts some practical features like integrated roof rails, tough black plastic mouldings all round, and longer rear doors than the standard model to help entry and exit from that third row of seats.
Inside, the Qashqai +2 provides a comfortable expansive space with generous headroom for all occupants and good width through the cabin. The dashboard and switchgear has been revised with the recent facelift and the new instrument cluster includes a LCD screen displaying a variety of vehicle information. The Bluetooth capable stereo is slightly dated in appearance but sounds fine and functions well, as do the audio and cruise control buttons mounted on the steering wheel.
Build quality appears very good and while some of the hard plastics aren’t high quality there is a general feel of durability to this family hauler. It’s also easy to get comfortable with a tilt and rake adjustable steering wheel and cloth seats that provide firm support and a driving position with excellent visibility.
The middle bench seat is a good place to be with plenty of head and legroom, it also has some clever tricks like sliding forward. It splits 40/20/40 with each section folding individually to help access to the third row. The central chair can also be dropped down to serve as an armrest and incorporates cupholders and a 12v power outlet.
The defining third row seat is thin-backed and relatively small. It really only has potential emergency use for full size adults but can be used as a more permanent fixture for kids. Nissan itself admits that the third row is best suited to children who are under 1.6m in height. Even with the second row pushed forward legroom is tight and the Qashqai’s roofline begins to tapper towards the rear which compromises head room as well. That said, for children it’s suitable with three-point seatbelts and just enough room to still kick the seats in front. When unneeded the third row seat stows completely flat into the loading area floor. Luggage capacity with the third row hidden is very good at 450-litres (40l more than the standard model), fold the second row down and this expands to a massive 1520-litre load area.
Like the rest of the Qashqai range the +2 is powered by Nissan’s aluminum 2.0-litre MR20 engine. With 104kW of power and 196Nm of torque it’s a willing 4-cylinder motor and while the Qashqai is no rocket ship the engine helps give it a light and nimble hatchback character. However, if fully loaded with seven occupants the motor will need to be worked hard during open road jaunts.
Changing gears is a CVT automatic transmission with a manual mode that provides access to 6 pre-selected ratios through the gearstick. It’s a fairly mellow unit for a CVT and operates without much of the flairing often associated with this type of transmission. But to get the most from the engine a heavy dose of the gas pedal is required to keep the revs high. With the thrifty CVT transmission and some clever aerodynamics, fuel consumption on the Qashqai +2 is limited to 8.0l/100km combined.
In terms of dynamics the Qashqai +2 is competent but can’t compete with low-slung hatches like the Ford Focus or Mazda3. It’s quite softly sprung and does body roll if thrown around. But the ride is composed and the chassis feels well sorted. The pay off is a very comfortable and compliant ride that benefits from the long suspension travel and soaks up bumps and dips expertly. Despite the off-roader looks the Qashqai is front-wheel-drive but still has plenty of grip and only in very slippery conditions would a 4WD system be missed. Even in larger +2 form it’s around town where the Qashqai is at its best with a tight turning circle and nicely weighted, precise steering.
Refinement is also very good with minimal wind noise pushing into the cabin and most tyre roar and engine noise well suppressed.
Being a family-focused vehicle the Qashqai +2 is well loaded with safety kit – front, side and curtain airbags are all on board. There’s 3-point seatbelts for all passengers and height adjustable belts with pre-tensioners for the front seats. Active safety features include an electronic stability programme, ABS brakes and an understeer control system.
The Qashqai +2 has all the same virtues as the standard model, it’s a capable all rounder with a spacious, durable interior and modern European styling. It’s also a very easy car to drive and be comfortable in with great frontward visibility and family-friendly practicalities. While you couldn’t consider it a serious full-time seven-seater the extra row of seats are a handy addition and are nicely invisible when stowed away.
With the Qashqai +2 priced at $40,800 it’s exactly the same cost as the top spec Qashqai Ti model making it a very simple equation. If you like the Qashqai but require the extra seating and increased space, then you and the +2 are well suited. If you don’t need the extra seating then the 5-seater Qashqai Ti comes at the same price and has additional goodies like 18-inch alloys, a panoramic glass roof, 6-speaker stereo and a leather steering wheel. So do a quick head count of the kids and you’ll know if the Qashqai +2 is that little bit more that you really need.
What we like:
- Nicely styled
- Good all-rounder
- Spacious interior
- Comfortable and refined ride
What we don’t like:
- Some body roll
- No diesel engine option
- Third row only suitable for kids and little people
Words and Photos: Adam Mamo
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Nissan Qashqai +2 (2010) – Specifications
Aluminium 2.0 litre MR20 engine
Capacity cc 1997
Bore and Stroke mm 84 x 90.1
Compression Ratio 10:1
Power kW @ rpm 104 @ 6000
Torque Nm @ rpm 196 @ 4800
No. of Cylinders & Conï¬guration 4 in-line
Induction Multi point injection
Emission Control 3 way catalytic converter
Emission Class ADR 79/02 (Euro 4)
Fuel Tank Capacity 65
Recommended Fuel – Unleaded 91RON or higher
Fuel Consumption (Litres/100km) Manual/Auto 8.0
CO2 Emission (g/km) LTNZ Standard Manual/Auto 179
Emission Compliant Standard Euro 4
Wheels and Tyres
Tyre Size 215/65R16
Overall Length (mm) 4541
Overall Width excluding mirrors (mm) 1780
Overall Height (mm) 1645
Wheelbase (mm) 2765
Track Front / Rear (mm) 1540/1545
Minimum Turning Circle kerb to kerb (m) 11.0
Kerb Weight (kg) 1476
Gross Vehicle Mass (GVM) (kg) 2108
Ground Clearance (mm) 188
Towing Capacity (braked/unbraked) (kg) 1200/685
Cargo Capacity (VDA) (L) Seats up / down 450/1520