Being named after a nomadic tribe of people it’s fitting that Nissan’s Qashqai has undergone a mid-cycle facelift and a movement towards an even more modern look. Selling in massive numbers in Europe, the small crossover has gained good traction here in NZ with 600 sales already achieved since its launch. The 2010 facelift is more a well-calculated nip and tuck than a butcher’s chop, with subtle changes both inside and out. Will the refresh move the quiet achieving Qashqai on to even greener pastures? Car and SUV spent a week living with the top-spec Ti model to find out more.
Visually, the major changes are at the Qashqai’s front where a new bumper, bonnet, honeycomb grille and headlamps distinguish it from its predecessor. The changes bring a smoother less awkward and more modern look while retaining its unique appeal. At the rear differences are less obvious but the taillights have been replaced with new LED 2-piece units and the tailgate spoiler has been tweaked to help reduce aerodynamic drag. The Ti tested vehicle also includes front fog lamps and rolls on some nicely suited 18-inch alloy wheels. Overall the Qashqai remains a distinctive machine thanks to its bold styling but also its stocky dimensions and off road styling cues like the low black plastic mouldings and raised ground clearance.
The Qashqai interior is a comfortable, expansive space with generous head and legroom for all seats. It’s given a light, airy atmosphere by a long panoramic glass roof that comes as standard spec on the Ti model. Elsewhere high-grade charcoal plastics mix with contrasting silver trim and are well screwed together. It’s also a very easy cabin to get comfortable in, the soft cloth seats are supportive and the leather wrapped steering wheel offers tilt and telescopic adjustment. The dashboard and switchgear has been revised with a new instrument cluster that includes a white LCD computer showing average fuel consumption, distance traveled and cruise control settings. The centre control stack sees little change with the facelift but offers good ergonomics and with the steering wheel mounted buttons everything is easily operated. It’s a very practical cabin too with plenty of small storage options and clever lighting at night. A high driving position makes for excellent frontward visibility, however, thick C-pillars and a fairly narrow back windscreen compromise rear visibility.
Standard equipment on the Qashqai Ti includes keyless entry, 6-speaker 6-disc CD player with aux input, rain sensing wipers, dual zone air con, Bluetooth and cruise control. Cargo capacity is usable but not totally generous for family use with 410-litres expanding to 860-litres with the 60:40 split rear seat folded down.
Lying under the creased bonnet is the only engine option available in NZ – a 2.0-litre 4-cylinder petrol unit. It’s a spirited motor that produces a healthy 104kW of power and 196Nm of torque. There’s been no change to the engine with the facelift but improved aerodynamics mean a slight improvement in fuel consumption which is reduced to 7.6l/100km. While it’s no performance vehicle the engine is strong enough to give the Qashqai a light, nimble character with plenty of pep around town and enough grunt for safe open road duties.
Power is only directed to the front wheels through a slick-shifting CVT transmission, it’s a mellow unit that doesn’t scream out when worked hard, but requires high engine revs to get the most from the motor. Alternatively six artificial gears can be selected manually through the gearstick for greater control.
Dynamically, Nissan has tweaked the Qashqai suspension, resulting in sharper handling and while it can’t compete with the likes of the Ford Focus or Mazda3 the Qashqai is still competent when changing direction. There is some body roll but the pay off is long suspension travel that creates a supremely comfortable and compliant ride soaking up bumps and dips with minimal fuss. The front driving wheels have plenty of grip and only in very slippery conditions or on rough roads would a 4WD system be missed. Around town is where the Qashqai really makes sense with a tight turning circle and nicely weighted, precise steering.
General refinement was already a strength of the Qashqai and the facelift has brought further NVH-cancelling improvements. The cabin has a tranquil atmosphere thanks to new insulation materials, improved window seals and an acoustic windscreen. Wind and engine noise is almost non-existent and tyre roar is minimal.
Being a family-focused vehicle the Qashqai hasn’t cut any safety corners with front, side and curtain airbags 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 2010 facelift isn’t a major transition for the Qashqai, but it has made an already very good package even better. The cabin is high quality with plenty of equipment a great driving position and equal focus on both comfort and practicality. The engine is frugal but offers good urge around town and during open road travels. Dynamically the Qashqai only makes minimal compromises for its high ride height with good all-round ability. The styling has been suitably refreshed to go a few more years and priced just below $40k its fair value for money. For anyone looking for either a new hatchback or small crossover the Qashqai deserves serious consideration.
What we like:
- Excellent quality
- Peppy and economical motor
What we don’t like:
- No diesel engine option
- Compromised rear visibility
- Could use more luggage capacity
Words and Photos: Adam Mamo
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Nissan Qashqai Ti (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)
Overall Length (mm) 4330
Overall Width excluding mirrors (mm) 1783
Overall Height (mm) 1606
Wheelbase (mm) 2630
Track Front / Rear (mm) 1540/1545
Minimum Turning Circle kerb to kerb (m) 10.6
Weight & Capacities
Kerb Weight (kg) 1455
Gross Vehicle Mass (GVM) (kg) 1960
Ground Clearance (mm) 188
Towing Capacity (braked/unbraked) (kg) 1200/685
Cargo Capacity (VDA) (L) Seats up / down 410/860