It’s called a Qashqai. I know, another weird car name. Sorry, but nobody I met could remember it even after hearing the name a few times. Repeat after me… cash-kye! In the US they didn’t even bother. There it’s called the Nissan Rogue Sport. Ha!
Okay, Nissan’s latest introduction to the Canadian marketplace, the Qashqai (base price $19,998), has been available in Europe and Asia for quite a while, so it’s not an all-new model without kilometers under its belt. And while it looks like the Nissan Rogue (not a bad thing these days), it’s actually considerably smaller: shorter in length by about 10-inches (2,540 mm), and shorter in height than the Rogue by five inches (1,270 mm). Not too small and not too big, it adds up to a rather sleek subcompact SUV.
Under the Qashqai’s hood is a 141-horsepower, 2.0-litre, four-cylinder engine mated to a six-speed manual or CVT “automatic” transmission. The official fuel consumption is 8.8/7.3 L/100km with “auto” and front-wheel drive, and 10.0/8.1 with the “stick.” All wheel drive is optional, and I should mention that it’s only the base “S” model that arrives with a six-speed manual gearbox — the CVT is optional — in case you’re interested in shifting (which I don’t think many people are these days).
A smart looking vehicle, I drove the $24,598 SV model finished in the very fetching and bright Nitro Lime paint (Qashqai has an interesting and appealing colour palette from which to choose, by the way). Along with the standard CVT gearbox, air conditioning, rear view monitor and heated front seats, the SV adds 17-inch alloy wheels, remote engine start, sunroof, and a heated leather-wrapped steering wheel. However, if you want all-wheel drive that will add $2,000, bringing the price to $26,798 plus $1,950 freight and taxes. You’ll be spending over $30,000, in other words.
Inside, Qashqai is roomy and comfortable. I had no issues finding a decent seating position in the driver’s seat, and even in the rear there was good legroom and headroom. And behind the rear seat? More room for cargo than you might expect.
Instruments are clear and easily readable; everything’s organized in a tidy and functional arrangement. Mine didn’t have navigation and my, what a tiny display for the infotainment/phone, etc. If you do want “nav,” it looks like you have to go for the $29,798 SL model with additional features and an apps package. You’ll get a bigger monitor, too.
I found the drivetrain perfectly adequate and handling responsive and predictable. Quiet on the road, outward visibility is good and the big sunroof (moonroof?) gives an airy feel to the cabin.
Fuel consumption was higher than expected, though, showing over 11.0 L/100km in the city. Mind you, this was winter and fuel consumption is typically higher in the cold weather.
Cargo capacity with the rear seats down is generous. You have a lot of room to work with, here. Not a diminutive vehicle at all, but certainly not too large, and as I say, a pleasing design to distinguish it from the competition (Honda HR-V, Mazda CX-3, Subaru Crosstrek, Toyota CS-R). Actually, I think this is an ideal compromise between a hatchback car and a compact SUV.
In case you’re still here and wondering, Qashqai is apparently the name of a people who live in the mountainous areas of Iran. Wonder if anybody asked them if they’d like compact SUV named after them!