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DRIVEN: New Nissan Qashqai arrives with edgy looks and improved refinement

DRIVEN: New Nissan Qashqai arrives with edgy looks and improved refinement

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Launch review: 2022 Nissan Qashqai 1.3T

Cape Town – For a manufacturer that essentially broke the mould when they introduced the first Nissan Qashqai 16 years ago, the brand has done well to keep it fresh over the years. Now with the third generation, it continues to do so.

Thanks to Covid-19, chip shortages and shipping challenges, the new model has arrived here two years after being introduced in Europe, but the wait has been worth it.

The Nissan Qashqai is a mainstay of the company, with over 3 million having been sold since it was first introduced, and according to Nissan SA they’re looking to move between 250 to 300 units a month locally.

It’s a completely new design from the ground up, with three trim levels and one engine across the range with no diesel option to choose from thanks largely to Euro legislation hampering that.

There’s the entry level 1.3T Visia, mid-specced 1.3T Acenta and range-topping Acenta Plus which we drove on launch.

The Acenta and Acenta Plus are powered by a 1.3-litre four-cylinder engine with 110kW and 250Nm driving the front wheels via a continuously variable automatic transmission. The Visia uses the same engine but with 96kW and 240Nm, and it’s available only with a manual transmission.

In March next year, Nissan will introduce the ePower Qashqai with its engine battery generating technology which throws another option into the low emissions mix.

DRIVEN: New Nissan Qashqai arrives with edgy looks and improved refinement

The lines on the new model are a lot more angular, giving the car an edgy appearance with a bigger V-motion front grille, slim LED matrix headlamps and new boomerang daylight running lights.

One of the Qashqai’s biggest selling points is the safety technology to give you peace of mind behind the wheel in an ever-increasing, more dangerous road network in South Africa.

Predictive Front Collision Warning keeps an eye on up to two cars ahead of you and when it detects sudden slowing down, the driver gets an audible and visual warning to slow down.

The Lane Keeping Aid gently keeps the car between the white lines (if and when they’re maintained in our crumbling road infrastructure) and will break in an emergency.

Nissan’s ProPILOT autonomous drive technology uses advanced image-processing technology, a combination of steering, acceleration and braking to execute precise steering allowing the car to perform naturally. It will, however, remind you with a loud beep if it feels your hands have been off the steering wheel for too long.

The interior exudes a premium feel with very comfortable full Nappa leather seats and interior as you would expect for a popular car that’s built to European spec. The fully electrical seats have a massage function and will also warm your backside on cold winter mornings.

It’s a very modern cabin with a 12.3-inch touchscreen infotainment system with satnav and is Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatible. While some of my colleagues would have preferred a digital instrument cluster, I still prefer old-school and felt it gave a bit of a retro feel to an otherwise very modern cabin.

DRIVEN: New Nissan Qashqai arrives with edgy looks and improved refinement

The premium interior feel is reflected in the Qashqai’s road manners too.

While a CVT transmission is much lamented by motoring scribes, this one feels more like an automatic transmission without a loud whine when you press hard on the accelerator pedal. Given the context of the vehicle though the average driver won’t notice it at all.

It feels as though it goes down a gear and then accelerates accordingly without the rev counter bouncing into the red.

While Wednesday morning driving around the Cape peninsula usually restricts any spirited driving because of the slew of white rental cars as tourists descend to take in the views, we did have a few opportunities to bury the pedal and it responded with some lively acceleration belying the power plant under the bonnet.

It gripped the twisties impressively with an eager feedback to steering input and very little body roll. It’s not the kind of driving you’re regularly going to be doing in the Nissan Qashqai, seeing as most of its time will be spent in an urban environment where it drives along comfortably with almost no wind or road noise.

We finished with impressive consumption figures of 6.6l/100km without trying, which is an extra feather in its cap for petrol price-fatigued consumers.

The Nissan Qashqai executes everything it says on the wrapping particularly well and while the Chinese brands continue to chip away at the market, driving the Qashqai provides a familiar and comfortable experience with the knowledge that Nissan has been here for a long time.

It comes with a three-year/90 000km service plan, a six-year/150 000km warranty and six-year/150 000km roadside assistance.

Nissan Qashqai pricing (September 2022)

1.3T Visia manual – R568 200

1.3T Acenta CVT – R639 300

1.3T Acenta Plus CVT – R670 600

IOL Motoring

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