A top-spec Qashqai is nice, but is it worth the spend?
First published in the December 2015 issue of Wheels magazine, Australia’s most experienced and most trusted car magazine since 1953.
According to popular wisdom, no-one buys base models anymore. It’s surely a more effective form of social suicide in certain suburbs of Australia than admitting you don’t have an Instagram account, or you buy non-organic kale.
But what about in the case of the Qashqai, where there’s only two equipment levels offered? Does the lower-spec one actually count as a ‘base’ model? And is there real value in the top-spec job?
I should be well-placed to adjudicate, as I’ve spent three months in the entry-level Nissan Qashqai TS model, and am now high-falutin’ around in the top-spec Ti. If we were to ignore the engine change that came with this switch, the extra spend would be in the order of $6500. So is it worth it? Honest answer – er, I’m not certain. It’s difficult to be definitive, as it depends much on where you place your priorities.
First up, cabin presentation. There’s no question the Ti is a nicer environment to slide into each day, with perforated leather seats and door panels, better trim treatment, and higher grade multimedia display. Only the driver’s seat gets electric adjustment, which I rate as a borderline benefit, given that there’s no memory function and the manual controls in the ST (and passenger side) work well.
Then there’s the panoramic glass roof, which is not an option I’d usually stump for, but it does make things far more airy and pleasant for anyone in the backseat. But probably the most obvious external indicator that you plumped for up-spec over entry level are the 19-inch wheels, seeing as they are a ‘plus-two’ jump over the ST’s 17s. And yes, they do fill the arches more substantially and give the Qashqai a more solid stance. But the trade-off is that the absorbent ride of the ST goes out the window, replaced by a far more reactive, often jittery passage over typical Aussie roads. Maybe 18s would be a better compromise.
Then there’s Intelligent Park Assist, which sounds impressive, but I tried it once then quickly slapped myself. I may not be a drift god, but I do like to think I’m a reverse parker of reasonable competence. Plus I’m a male car enthusiast; why the hell would I hand parking responsibility over to a machine? How defeatist would that be? Then there’s blindspot warning; nice to have, but not necessary if you own a functioning neck capable of 45 degrees of rotation. Likewise the lane-departure warning – it false-alarmed too many times in the first few days and has stayed switched off ever since. Sat-nav is occasionally handy, but the Around View camera doesn’t really add a practical advantage over regular parking sensors.
So the bottom line: while I’m fan of the Ti’s slicker presentation, I’m not sure it’s brimming with a load of additional features I couldn’t live without. At least not $6500 worth.
Learning firsthand that your new Ferrari can’t accommodate a jumbo Slurpee would not, I’m guessing, be a deal breaker for most owners. But SUVs need to play by a different set of rules, one where practicality and general liveability are often as important as performance. The Qashquai stacks up well here, with generous, deep cupholders for front-seat occupants, door bins that can take full-sized water bottles, and very handy dual-level storage under the centre armrest.
Read part 1 of our Nissan Qashqai Ti long-term car review.
Nissan Qashqai Ti
Price as tested: $35,490
Part 2: 852km @ 12.9L/100km
Overall: 1320 @ 13.0L/100km
Date acquired: August 2015
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