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Interior design and technology – Nissan Qashqai

Nissan Qashqai: Comfortable, spacious, with an intuitive infotainment system.

Nissan Qashqai: Comfortable, spacious, with an intuitive infotainment system.

Launched in 2007, the Nissan Qashqai started a trend for the compact crossover SUV. Since then, the market has been flooded with each still trying to carve out its own niche. Continuing just-auto/AICs’s review of interior design and technology trends, we take a closer look inside the second-generation Qashqai to see what still makes this a popular choice.

The latest Qashqai (known as the Nissan Rogue Sport in the US) is offered in five trim levels, namely the Visia, Acenta, N-Connecta, Tekna, and Tekna+. Our Tekna incorporates a long list of standard equipment, from clever safety technology to 19-inch alloys. There is even a blind-spot warning system and another that detects driver tiredness.

Creature comforts

Tekna cabin is cloaked in dense, soft materials. The nappa leather trimmed seats and 3D quilting on the centre panels are a first for Nissan in Europe. The powered driver’s seat is a further innovation for Nissan Europe. A seat memory function with two stored positions has been added, linked to the door mirrors.

Another welcome addition on Tekna is the Bose eight-speaker audio system, specifically two 25mm tweeters at the base of the windscreen, a 165mm woofer in each front door and a 130mm mid-range speaker in each rear door. Another two 115mm woofers are housed in a 7.7-litre custom-engineered enclosure mounted in the spare wheel well. A Bose digital amplifier with eight channels of custom equalisation and digital signal processing is concealed beneath a passenger seat.

The D-shaped leather steering wheel borrows design features from the Micra and X-Trail. The steering wheel’s compact central hub is smaller than its predecessor and the three spokes are slimmer, creating an upper space that’s larger by 17 percent, thereby improving instrument visibility. The four-way controllers for the combimeter display (left spoke) and cruise control (right spoke) are also new and not too fiddly to use. 

A number of other areas of the cabin have been upgraded. For instance, the air vents and interior door handles are finished in some tactile materials, while a line of stitching smartens up the centre console armrest. The Tekna panoramic roof created an airy, spacious feel on some overcast days.

Other welcome interior features include auto-dimming rearview mirror, ambient lighting, rear USB connection, heated windscreen and heated front seats.

The NissanConnect seven-inch touchscreen sat-nav is app-like in appearance and more responsive than we have found elsewhere. Since launch, the NissanConnect has been updated.  Enhancements include voice recognition, customisable home screen, single line search (to speed up the process of finding a location) and ‘Find My Car’. The latter means that the car’s parking point can be logged as drivers flip the navigation back to their smartphones to walk to their final destination.  Other new features include Over The Air (OTA) map and availability of software updates via smartphone or wifi. As with most centre mount touchscreens, it is a little fiddly at first to work your way around, but you soon acclimatise to it. The HVAC unit positioned directly beneath is the polar opposite in terms of its simplicity, with large, clearly marked buttons.

Moving to the rear, the back of the front seats have been redesigned with the addition of some scratch-resistant plastic trim and two map pockets.  Although this slimmer finish improves knee room for rear seat passengers, the actual space left for tall occupants is pinched.

The boot has a carrying capacity of 430 litres which increases to 1,598 litres when the 60:40 split rear seats are folded flat. It also features Nissan’s so-called Flexible Luggage Board System, which allows for shelves and dividers to be adjusted in any one of 18 configurations.

Advanced driver assistance systems

In the ADAS department, the Qashqai incorporates the carmaker’s ProPilot autonomous driving capability. This can control the steering, acceleration and braking in a single lane on highways during heavy traffic congestion and high-speed cruising. It is based on three technologies – Lane Keep Assist, Intelligent Cruise Control and Traffic Jam Pilot. 

Other useful driver assistance technologies include rear cross-traffic alert to mitigate the risk of low-speed impacts when reversing out of a parking space. Although intelligent emergency braking was on the Qashqai from 2014, it has now been upgraded with pedestrian recognition. And blind-spot warning is now based on radar data rather than camera images, which means it operates over a wider arc and with improved accuracy of detection. The Qashqai also incorporates traffic sign recognition, intelligent driver alertness, intelligent park assist, intelligent around-view monitor and lane departure warning.

Also new to the Qashqai is a technology called Stand Still Assist (SSA), which supplements Hill Start Assist on cars with a manual transmission. SSA holds the car in a stationary position for up to three minutes, after which time the parking brake is automatically activated. 

On the road

The 1.3 petrol unit is paired with a seven-speed automatic gearbox. While it isn’t particularly quick off the mark, it still manages to deliver power smoothly. This unit, introduced in 2019, marks the first time a dual-clutch transmission has been fitted to a volume Nissan model.

Some neat modifications to the suspension, damping and steering systems give it a refined ride. The quiet cabin is partly thanks to some improvements to noise, vibration and harshness (NVH) performance. More sound insulation material has been added inside the front doors and behind the rear wheel arches. Additional sealing around the front doors has been integrated, while the rear door glass is now thicker – from 3.15mm to 3.85mm – to improve the rear passenger experience. Such measures also improve the audio experience and performance of the Bluetooth hands-free phone. All in all, the change has been quantified by Nissan engineers as a 5 per cent improvement in speech intelligibility during in-car conversation.

On balance, the top-spec Qashqai comes with a generous list of standard equipment, clever safety technology and an intuitive infotainment system. Its comfortable drive is partly thanks to NVH refinements, suspension set up and a cabin filled with dense, soft materials. Rival models include the SEAT Ateca, Peugeot 3008 and Mazda CX-5.

Lighter third-generation Qashqai on sale in Europe this summer

Earlier this year, Nissan unveiled its latest generation Qashqai, set to go on sale this summer in Europe. Marking the third generation since debuting in 2007, it is the first model in Europe to use the Alliance CMF-C platform. For Europe’s markets, it is built at Nissan’s Sunderland, UK plant.

In terms of construction, the body-in-white makes use of more lightweight material, advanced stamping processes and welding techniques to increase strength and reduce weight. For the first time, the rear hatchback door is now made of a composite material, which saves 2.6kg. This and additional advanced manufacturing techniques result in weight savings of 60kg and a 41% increase in structural rigidity when compared to the out-going model.

The new model also brings the first deployment of Nissan’s ‘e-Power’ drive system to Europe, sales of which are scheduled to start following those of the mild hybrid version. To meet the typical needs of European consumers and their daily drive, the e-Power system has been significantly upgraded for the new Qashqai with the adoption of Nissan’s world-first variable compression ratio petrol engine as the dedicated electricity generating unit. The result, Nissan says, is a compact, high-output electrified system that, thanks also to the high combustion efficiency of the engine, delivers more efficiency.

In terms of ADAS, the new Qashqai will have the next generation of ProPilot driver assistance. Now called ProPilot with Navi-link, the system is able to accelerate and brake the vehicle within a single lane on a highway. It can accelerate the vehicle to cruise at a set speed, and can brake the vehicle down to 0km/h in heavy stop start traffic. The system is able to resume automatically if the vehicle has been stationary for less than three seconds and the traffic in front of the car moves away. The steering system and the camera are constantly updating the vehicle’s position, helping the car to stay centred within the lane while maintaining a predetermined speed but with the capability to adapt and maintain a safe distance to the car in front.

On the new Qashqai, the updated system is now able to adapt the car’s speed according to additional external circumstances: when the car crosses to a lower speed limit zone on the highway, the system is able to read road signs and take into account navigation system speed limit data to slow the car to the appropriate speed. The system can also use data from the navigation system to adjust the speed for approaching curves or exit ramps that have a tighter radius.

The system also can now communicate with the blind spot radars to help intervene with a steering input correction to help prevent a lane change manoeuvre if there is a vehicle in the blind spot zone.

Other upgrades include a ‘flank protection’ warning for urban situations, which alerts the driver of the risk of contact with an object on the side of the vehicle, typically when turning into a supermarket parking space. And the new system can also intervene to prevent a collision upon reversing from the space thanks to an upgrade on the existing Moving Object Detection alert, applying the brakes to stop the car if a moving obstacle is detected nearby.

ProPilot with Navi-link will be available from the mid-level N-Connecta grade.

Like its predecessors, the styling of the new Qashqai was directed by Nissan Design Europe, based in Paddington, London, while engineering was led by the Nissan Technical Centre Europe, in Cranfield, Bedfordshire.

Sales will start with the mild-hybrid version, while the e-Power version will follow later.

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