Nissan Qashqai +2

Nissan QashqaiI’ve always wondered as to the appeal of a vehicle like the Qashqai (or Sasquatch as I like to call it). The previous generation only had five seats, no more than a mid-range hatch back. Its raised body had no purpose because it was front wheel drive (well most of them anyway), just like a mid-range hatch back, and would therefore be good for no more than pavement hopping; you guessed it, just like a mid-range hatchback. Unlike a mid-range hatch back though, the body made it too big for practical town driving while the engine was too small for comfortable highway cruising.

But, as usual it seems, the inadequacies I note in a vehicle seem to have no bearing on its sales figures. Given its popularity, Nissan have created a new Sasquatch, called the Sasquatch +2. Now that’s not very imaginative, but the rest of the car has changed somewhat more.

Firstly the outside looks different – and before you feel I’m pointing out the obvious, this, in the wake of the VW Vivo and Ford Figo, isn’t guaranteed anymore. The Nissan has taken on a more aggressive personality with an all new bonnet, bumper, grille and headlight combo that tell me the Sasquatch is no longer a big friendly giant.

However I’m still inclined to say that it’s not a pretty car. There’s an Asian-ness about it that may make it striking, but not pretty. Very few cars are pretty these days though, so no matter.

On the inside, the aesthetics and all the gadgetry are pretty much the same as they used to be. There’s a full array of them too, from climate control to cruise control through to a CD shuttle with MP3 compatibility and Bluetooth for your phone.

The big change comes in the form of an extra row of seats. Now I don’t want to say I told you so, but I take my hat off to Nissan forNissan Qashqai realising their mistake, and fixing it.

My previous doubts about the car were entirely hinged around that fact that the big cumbersome body didn’t mean the vehicle was any more practical than a hatch back. And while the engines were relatively small from a capacity point of view, they were tasked with lugging that gargantuan body about the place, leading to less than average fuel efficiency. This was wasteful and I hate wastefulness.

With seven seats and small engines, the Sasquatch is now efficient given its capabilities. This has earned the Nissan a place in my book of practical things, which is no mean feat.

Going beyond the new found practicality I found very few faults. The ride was comfortable and the cabin spacious. The steering is light and direct while the suspension felt capable enough to handle some vigorous driver input with limited body roll in the process.

The smooth six speed manual gearbox of my test car was coupled with a 2.0 litre petrol engine that was just about adequate, albeit noisy at high revs despite Nissan’s efforts with multi layer noise insulation. More torque wouldn’t go amiss, but for the average person there can be no complaints. Personally though, I’d go for the 1.6 litre option for no other reason that better fuel economy – the few extra kilowatts offered by the 2.0 litre don’t transform the Sasquatch into a racing car, so why have them at all.

When it comes to the matter of price, the Sasquatch falls nicely in the middle of its SUV/Crossover MPV competition – neither outrageously expensive nor ridiculously good value for money. However for R50,000 less my 1.6 litre suggestion does again poke it’s head above ground for a mention.

I like the fact that Nissan have made intelligent improvements to their beloved Sasquatch. It points to a manufacturer that is striving to offer value to its customers. If only there were more Nissans in the world.

Price: R 303,500 (R 249,500 for the 1.6 litre)
Engine: 2.0 litre four cylinder petrol
Power: 102 kW
Torque: 198 Nm
Acceleration (0-100 km/h): 10.2
Top speed (km/h): 192
Fuel consumption (l/100km): 10.2 (claimed)

Miles Downard
Photo Credit: Quickpic

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