What is it?
Sitting a level above the oddly-styled Juke (itself due for an update soon), Qashqai is a small to medium-sized SUV.
The ST spec is the entry level version and is reasonably well featured for its price and placement.
It’s powered by a 2.0-litre four cylinder engine that drives the front wheels via a manual or CVT-style auto transmission.
Peak power of 106kW is on tap at 6000rpm and torque maxes out at 200Nm — but you need to rev it to 4400rpm to find that.
Tank size is 65 litres and fuel consumption is a claimed 6.9L/100km.
It’s not a heavy machine either, weighing in at 1375kg dry.
What’s it cost?
The manual ST is $26,990 driveaway.
An auto adds a typical $2K premium. $500 is the ask for metallic paint.
There’s not a lot to dislike inside the ST. It’s a well laid out cabin in regards to switchgear location.
The Start/Stop push button is clearly visible to the left of the rather broad steering wheel which has control tabs for accessing information from a small LCD screen, framed by two simple dials — it looks fine and works well.
The centre stack is gloss black in contrast with the charcoal grey of the plastics and cloth seats. Tabs and buttons for the aircon are also simple in look and layout.
It’s an uncomplicated design and one that’s family friendly, and being easy to read means less time spent looking away from the road.
In contrast, the touchscreen’s base look is, well, base. It’s not pretty and lacks that “look at me” factor — but, at least, there is a good sounding DAB tuner.
The seats are manually adjusted with adequate leg room front and rear, even with the front seats pushed back.
Rear cargo room varies from 430 to 1598 litres with seats up or down.
Drive is controlled via the shift lever only, as there are no paddle shifts. Nor are the headlights auto on.
What gives the cabin a lift is a smooth line that draws the dash towards the front doors from the centre. It’s an enveloping look and feel, giving an impression of two distinct sections — for driver and passenger.
Another nifty feature is the camera that shows the left side of the car. It lets the driver check the kerb for wheel placement.
It also engages with the front parking sensors for a better perspective.
Outside the front grille adopts the good looking corporate “Vee” shape.
LED driving lights hide the far too small indicators that are buried deep in the corner of the headlights.
Underneath the main lights are two bumper inserts and a blade in each to help with aero flow.
In profile it’s a well balanced look, and that includes the opposing angle of the tailgate to the rear window line.
The tailgate is not powered, not unexpectedly.
Bridgestone supply the Dueler rubber and it’s a 215/60/17 combination on five spoke alloys.
For safety’s sake, six airbags are fitted across the range. Autonomous Emergency Braking, Forward Collison Warning, and Lane Departure Warning are also standard.
But the ST misses out on Blind Spot Warning, Rear Cross Traffic Warning, plus Intelligent Park Assist/Driver Alert/Lane Intervention — all reserved for the top of the range Ti.
What’s it go like?
‘Tis orright, the ST and CVT. Although It works really well in standard CVT mode, it has also been programed with a “stepped” or discernible gear mode.
A heavy footed approach invokes a more familiar, automatic feel and once the tacho climbs to around 3000rpm, there’s a real surge forward as the variable valve timing kicks in.
Using manual shift shows a different side to the CVT. Changes are sharp and use the engine’s power delivery very efficiently.
If a gentle getaway is required, then the CVT style is your friend. It’s quiet, and most definitely unhurried.
Need to overtake? Plant the hoof and feel the CVT “drop a couple of cogs” before revs climb and the car starts to feel a bit frisky.
Cruising on the highway, however, the Qashqai exhibits a slight weirdness in the drivetrain.
There’s barely perceptible acceleration/deceleration, almost as if there’s a ghost operating the throttle, speeding up and backing off slightly — and so on. It’s not annoying, but it’s curious.
Downhill runs see the engine and transmission work hand in hand to engine brake, and it’s very effective in doing so.
There’s generally no need to actually press the brake, but when you do — the brakes are responsive and grip quickly.
Ride and handling are as expected for an entry level machine. On the highway and on most suburban roads, it’s composed and readily absorbs most of the normal bumps.
Go slow over a speedhump and there’s a solid thump from underneath. Compliance goes out the window and it’s not a pleasant feeling.
The larger steering wheel makes the four turns lock to lock easier to deal with when it comes to parking and imparts easy, gentle, lane changing ability.
We averaged 7.1L/100km on a 60/40 urban/highway drive cycle.
What we like?
- Easy going road manners
- Side camera is a great touch at an entry level
- Nicely laid out interior
What we don’t like?
- Dull looking touchscreen
- Bump-thump ride at slow speed
- Odd drivetrain habit
The bottom line?
It’s a decent drive and ride and has a decent amount of room inside. At circa $29K for the auto, it’s not an indecent price either. It’s a bit like Goldilocks and her porridge — it’s just right.
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Nissan Qashqai ST auto, priced from $28,990 driveaway