NISSAN’S Qashqai makes a lot of sense to a lot of people.
It’s a kind of Goldilocks vehicle, ‘just right’ in size, looks, features, performance, space and comfort.
In fact, about one in every 10 compact SUVs sold these days, is a Qashqai and potential buyers have half a dozen of them to choose from.
If you’re puzzled by the strange name, Wikipedia tells us it’s what people living in the mountainous parts of Iran are called — and it can also translate to “a horse with a white forehead.”
All have a 2.0-litre four-cylinder petrol engine offering 106kW and 200Nm, and all but the entry model have front wheel drive via continuously variable transmission driving the front wheels.
The latest ones all have Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.
What’s it cost?
Prices start from $27,990 for the ST, but you have to use a clutch and change the gears all by yourself – which, if you’re security conscious, might make it the pick of the bunch because it will be close to thief-proof.
Vehicle thieves generally do not have intelligence quotients of more than about 50, so having to cope with a manual shift and three pedals is an insurmountable challenge.
So, with all six in the range being mechanically identical, it comes down to deciding just how much you want, or can afford, from the goodies bin.
Prices of the quintet with CVT start at $29,990 for the ST spec, then its two grand extra for the ST+, the ST-L is $34,000, the N-Sport $35,000 and the Ti $38,490.
The updated range has more connectivity and technology, including voice recognition and digital radio, if that’s your thing.
I do speak quite a lot while behind the wheel, mainly to myself, and mainly about sleepyheads in front with their minds stuck in neutral.
In value for money terms, the mid-spec models seem pretty attractive.
The ST+, for instance, comes with 18-inch alloys, auto-on wipers and headlights, foglights, Intelligent Driver Alert, Rear Cross Traffic Alert and Blind Spot Warning technology, as well as satnav, a 360-degree plus reversing camera and auto-folding heated mirrors,
What more could you want?
Well, there’s pedestrian detection on some models above that, plus different wheels and interior trim.
But even the base model has attractions such as an electric park brake, 17-inch wheels, push-button start, and a leather-trimmed steering wheel.
What’s it go like?
My latest Qashqai drives have been in the N-Sport and Ti.
The N-Sport is a limited edition of only 600 vehicles, recognisable (if you’re a serious Qashqai watcher) by bigger (19-inch) wheels, body-coloured bumpers, sideskirts and bits of silver on the wheel arches and outside mirrors.
The Ti throws in automotive delicacies such as a glass roof, leather trim, adaptive cruise, lane-keeping assist, LED headlights, a fixed panoramic glass roof, powered passenger seat and dual-zone climate control.
It also runs on the 19-inch alloys.
It seems to have everything imaginable, bar a white forehead.
However, its close on $40K price does not make it particularly appealing in the marketplace, where there are a few other brands with similar features for less cash.
Its strongest buyer magnet is its great amount of usable space.
There’s lots of room front and back, plus generous cabin storage and its 430-litre cargo space is among the biggest in the small SUV category.
It’s good to drive too, with a composed ride on compliant suspension, nicely weighted steering, excellent visibility from its tallish perch and it’s easy to squeeze into tight parking spots.
The CVT is fine and the 2.0-litre motor is a well-proven unit.
Together, they provide decent performance.
Average fuel consumption is given as 6.9L/100km, but even with pussyfoot driving on long stretches the best we recorded was 7.6, which is pretty good, anyway.