First Drive: 2017 Nissan Qashqai

First Drive: 2017 Nissan Qashqai

Very quiet and agreeable on the highway, with good road-holding and isolation from exterior noise.

MONTRÉAL, QUÉBEC – The subcompact crossover segment is one of the most rapidly growing in the Canadian automotive landscape. Popular entries such as the Honda HR-V (reviewed here) and Mazda CX-3 lead the segment, so it was inevitable for global giant Nissan to want a slice. Sold in other markets since 2006, the Qashqai is the highest selling product in Nissan’s European portfolio. The current iteration has been available in Europe since 2014, and has finally made its way across the pond. We were invited to Montréal to sample the 2017 Nissan Qashqai and evaluate how it fits into the Canadian lineup.

First Drive: 2018 Nissan Qashqai review

Slotting into the Nissan family just below the Rogue, it’s impossible to mistake the Qashqai for anything other than a Nissan crossover. Employing edgier and sharper styling than its larger sibling, the Qashqai is subjectively more attractive and surpasses nearly everything in its segment in the exterior design department. The front end is angular and offers chrome accents, and models equipped with fog lights have an extra bit of style. The side profile is immediately reminiscent of the Rogue (reviewed here), and the rear offers Nissan’s “boomerang” design taillights. From a purely aesthetic point of view, the Qashqai is right up there with the Mazda CX-3.

Nissan’s Intelligent Safety Shield technology is on board the SL trim, and is very competitive with what’s offered by the competition. The Qashqai is available with a ton of kit once only seen in premium entries, such as adaptive cruise control, emergency braking with pedestrian detection, blind spot monitoring (BSW), rear cross traffic alert (RCTA), and lane departure warning (LDW). An added bonus is what Nissan calls Intelligent Lane Intervention, which will actively prevent the vehicle from exiting the lane should the driver become distracted or worse, affected by some sort of emergency.

First Drive: 2018 Nissan Qashqai review

Powering the Qashqai is Nissan’s familiar 2.0L inline four-cylinder engine, which in this application offers 141 horsepower at 6,000RPM and 147 lb-ft. of torque at 4,400RPM. It can be mated to either a six-speed manual gearbox or the Xtronic continuously variable transmission. Naturally, the vast majority of models will be sold with the latter, which has been refined but still isn’t quite as responsive as the examples from Honda or Subaru. Acceleration is met with a considerable amount of noise and very little go; in fact the transmission actually makes the Qashqai feel slower than it is. The manual itself is okay, though the shifter has a rubbery feel and isn’t the most precise.

The 2.0L motor, however, is a gem and performs adequately for the segment. It’s not the quietest but does exhibit good refinement and tech like direct injection. The Qashqai as a result is smooth and displays amicable driving dynamics. It’s very quiet and agreeable on the highway, with brilliant road-holding and isolation from exterior noise. The steering is light and effortless, something valuable to small crossover buyers, and has very good on-center feel. Ride quality is good as well on models with the 17” alloy wheels, though SL models with the oversized 19” wheels have rougher feel that almost takes away from the charm of the little ute.

First Drive: 2018 Nissan Qashqai review

When equipped with all-wheel-drive, the Qashqai only comes in CVT form, and is thus rated at 9.1L/100km in the city and 7.5L/100km on the highway. Front-drive manual models are rated at 10.0L/100km city and 8.1L/100km highway, and front-drive CVT Qashqais see 8.8L/100km city and 7.3L/100km highway. There is obviously some trade-off with regards to fuel efficiency in favour of all-wheel-drive, but for most Canadians, the negligible difference is a no-brainer for the added peace of mind year-round. The Qashqai comes in between 3,100 and 3,500 pounds, depending on the trim level and drivetrain configuration. Regular 87-octane fuel is all that’s required and recommended regardless of model.

Looking closely at the interior of the Qashqai SL, there is some use of high-quality materials, including faux-leather on the door panels, dash trim and shift boot. All of these also have nice stitching. Lesser trim models have many plastics, though it doesn’t ooze low-rent like the first-generation Rogue did. The one plastic bit that looks good at first is the piano black finish on the infotainment bezel, shifter and the shift surround (SL models) – it’s classy and tasteful but we fear that this surface won’t hold up well to scratches in the long term. Lesser trims such as the S and SV get a matte plastic that, while not as aesthetically pleasing, will fare better over the years.

First Drive: 2018 Nissan Qashqai review

At over six feet tall, your writer was able to quickly find a comfortable driving position behind the wheel of the Qashqai. The moonroof models we sampled offer generous headroom and legroom for front seat passengers, and enough room for two in the rear. Six-footers will find it challenging to stay comfortable for longer periods out back, though that’s no surprise for anything in this segment. Cargo area is equally substantial, with 20 cubic feet of space with the rear seats upright (53 with them folded down).

Qashqai S and SV models access connectivity via a 5.0” colour touchscreen, which offers Bluetooth streaming audio as well as a USB port for a wired connection. A basic four-speaker stereo is standard, and models SV and up receive an upgrade to six, along with satellite radio. The SL gets the larger 7.0” touchscreen with additional connectivity, though Nissan still does not offer Apple CarPlay or Android Auto on any vehicles in their lineup. The existing infotainment system is easy to navigate and quick to respond, but feels very dated when comparing to the more advanced offerings from GM, Honda and Mazda.

First Drive: 2018 Nissan Qashqai review

The 2017 Qashqai starts at $19,998 in Canada for the front-drive manual transmission model. At this price, it still offers amenities such as the reverse camera, heated front seats and Siri Eyes Free tech. Adding the CVT transmission to the S costs $2,000 extra, and the all-wheel-drive base model is $24,198. Upgrading to the volume-selling SV costs $24,598 and adds 17” alloy wheels, a power moonroof, heated steering wheel, and a remote starter. The Qashqai SL is a pricey $29,498, but includes 19” alloy wheels, the 360-degree AroundView Monitor, leather seating, and much more. The top-trim is right in line with the CX-3 GT (reviewed here) and Buick Encore (reviewed here), though it’s worth pointing out that the fully loaded SL AWD with the Platinum Package can go as high as $32,198.

Competition is fierce right now, with almost every major automaker wanting a slice of the subcompact crossover class. The 2078 Nissan Qashqai is one of the only examples to offer a manual transmission in the Canadian market, along with the Honda HR-V and Jeep Renegade. This is a conservative choice with sleek styling, Nissan’s reputation for reliability behind it, and offers enough capability to get buyers through harsh Canadian winters without any effort at all.

First Drive: 2017 Nissan Qashqai Gallery

See Also:

2017 Nissan Rogue SL Platinum

2016 Mazda CX-3 GT

2017 Buick Encore Essence AWD


Adi Desai
Adi Desai

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