Meet Nissan’s small SUV offering, the Qashqai. I know, weird name. Something to do with nomadic tribes from some far flung Iranian provinces. SUVs may have evolved from four-wheel drives, but the Qashqai only comes in front-wheel drive. The entry-level ST model, tested here, costs $28,490. It sports a 2.0-litre petrol engine with Continuously Variable Transmission. In six-speed manual guise it costs just $25,990.
- The base ST version is good value for a small SUV, priced at a competitive $28,490.
- It has a generous 430L boot.
- Despite the 1408kg weight, Nissan claims a lowfuel consumption of just 6.9L/100km. The reality, with a 110km mixture of city and highway driving, was closer to a thirsty 9.3L/100km.
- The Nissan Qashqai has well-planted suspension that handlesinner cityspeed bumps and potholes with aplomb.
- The cabin is classy, comfortable and uncluttered.
- The ST comes equipped with reversing camera and simple-to-use cruise control.
- Its high-riding position ensures good visibility for all passengers. Plus you don’t have to make that undignified grunting noise when getting out of the car.
- The ST is only offered in front-wheel drive, making it better suited to city driving than bashing the bush.
- The 5-inch display console comes with the basic CD player, MP3 capability, AM/FM Radio, and Aux. The connectivity, however, is confusing. It requires hooking up with NissanConnect which is unnecessarily cumbersome.
- The cloth trim is not ideal for messy kids.
- The base model misses some of the goodies found in the Ti, Ts and TL like panoramic sunroof, rain sensing wipers, automatic on/off headlights, leather trim and seven-inch colour touchscreen with satnav.
- Neither air vents nor adequate storage compartment are offered to rear passengers.
The small SUV market is a tough and competitive one. Mazda is impressing with its good looking Mazda CX-3 which also comes in all-wheel drive. The Mitsubishi ASX with its five year warranty and the roomier Honda HR-V are other pint-sized SUVs to consider.