Nissan Qashqai 2.0 dCi Tekna Review « The Wheel Deal

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Nissan Qashqai

Nissan Qashqai

2.0 dCi Tekna Review

Posted: November 18th, 2009 | By Thomas Falkiner

No matter how you say it, the sporty Nissan Qashqai 2.0 dCi is the perfect car for our appalling South African road conditions, writes The Wheel Deal

The best thing about this job, obviously, is the fact that you get to drive the sort cars that 99 percent of the populace can only dream about. From nuclear-powered Mercs to James Bond’s Aston Martin, us motoring journos often find ourselves at the helm of some pretty impressive machinery.

The problem is though, no matter how fast or powerful these exotic beasts may be, they’re becoming more and more frustrating to drive around the ever decaying streets of South Africa; Johannesburg in particular. For as the government would rather pump the taxpayer’s money into exorbitant inauguration banquets than the National Roads Agency, our once sweet asphalt in now riddled with the sort of potholes and canyons that’ll devour the wheels of a supercar in one swift sitting. Call me a pessimist but – as I don’t see Zuma and Co. doing anything to ease the lives of a couple of Ferrari-driving “Eurocentrics” – I sometimes think that the only antidote to the diabolical SA motoring experience lies behind the wheel of the SUV; specifically one like this Nissan Qashqai.

Already available on the local market for quite some time now, this funky Japanese tongue twister is still the best in class for two important reasons. Firstly it’s not impractically large, which makes it great for everyday manoeuvring, and secondly it behaves a lot more like a hatchback than something that’s equipped with advanced 4#215;4 drivetrain and an above-average level of ground clearance.

And this is because, made by the company who’s brought us recent driving delights like the new 370Z and GT-R, the Qashqai benefits from a nimble little chassis and sporting suspension set-up that gives it a clear edge over most of its rivals. For although you sit high up in the cab – perfect for negotiating traffic by the way – this Nissan displays very little body-roll and can consequently be driven with a surprising amount of gusto when you’re in the mood.

Granted, the Qashqai is nowhere near as sharp to drive as a conventional hatch, but when you factor in the amount of extra weight its carrying and that heightened centre of gravity, it’s hard not be impressed with the way it handles itself through corners. In fact, only the VW Tiguan is as good.

Fitted with a feisty turbodiesel engine, this Nissan is no slouch in the velocity stakes either and I was actually amazed at just how quickly it could cover ground. It might sound a little gruff and unrefined at times but that oil-burning engine sitting behind the Qashqai’s bulging headlights is a joy to thrash and – unusually for a diesel – thrives on high revs, with no noticeable drop off in power as you approach the redline. Mated to a slick-shifting six-speed manual gearbox, this powerplant is fairly economical too with the on-board computer in our unit reading, despite my heavy-footed driving style, 7.9l/100km at the end of test.

Quick and satisfying to drive, the best thing about the Qashqai is the way it gobbles up the sort of imperfections that’ll leave ordinary cars reeling. Though the ride is a little on the firm side, this Nissan never feels especially rattled over undulations and performs well across a variety of different surfaces.

From the ever growing moon-crater that plagues one of my weekly routes at the intersection of Derry and Gleneagles Road, to mild off-road tracks in and around the Magaliesburg, there’s not much that the Qashqai can’t handle. Of course while it’s definitely no hardcore bundu-basher, Nissan’s intelligent All Mode 4#215;4 (a smart system that allows you to toggle between 2#215;4, automatic or fulltime 4#215;4) does provide enough bite to satisfy the needs of most recreational dirt-slingers.

Reasonably priced and well specced with things like leather, aircon and a killer sound system – although an Aux-in port would be nice – the Nissan Qashqai is an entertaining and well-rounded package that snarls in the face of life’s knocks. In other words it’s the ultimate SA supercar then.

Nissan Qashqai 2.0 dCi Tekna Fast Facts:

Engine: 1995cc four-cylinder turbodiesel

Power: 110kW at 4000rpm

Torque: 320Nw at 2000rpm

Nissan Qashqai

0-100km/h: 10.5 seconds (claimed)

Top Speed: 191km/h (claimed)

Fuel Consumption: 7l/100km (claimed combined)

Price: From R336 500

Edgy Japanese styling makes the Qashqai quite a looker. We love those chunky wheel-arches

Interior may be a little dull but it#8217;s well made, ergonomic and comfortable. Racy gear lever and steering wheel have a 370Z look and feel

Instruments are easy to read but the trip computer is a fiddle to navigate through thanks to that awkwardly placed toggle switch

Nissan Qashqai
Nissan Qashqai
Nissan Qashqai
Nissan Qashqai
Nissan Qashqai
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