Nissan Qashqai’s final fling with N-Sport model
FIVE things you need to know about the Nissan Qashqai N-Sport.
1. IT IS A RUN-OUT SPECIAL
An updated Qashqai is due before year's end, which is why the N-Sport exists. This run-out model pumps up the entry level ST model with $1800 of extra goodies, from 18-inch alloys (up from 17s) to "Ice chrome" highlights on the front and rear, door sills and the boot finisher. The drive-away price is $1000 more than the ST two-wheel drive at $26,990 on the road. As such it is reasonable value, though rivals, from Mazda's CX-3 to the Mitsubishi ASX are also doing deals. The Qashqai's trump card is it is a slightly larger vehicle than most in the compact SUV class.
2. STANDARD KIT IS OK
The default gear on the N-Sport includes a reversing camera in lieu of front and rear parking sensors, single-zone aircon, cloth, manually adjusted front seats, front and rear mudflaps, pearl or black paintwork (everything else costs $510 more), four tie-down points in the spacious 430L boot and a not-great five-inch infotainment screen. Bluetooth streaming is standard but there's no provision for smartphone mirroring and family buyers need to remember there are no rear air vents on the N-Sport.
3. ADJACENT LANE VISION IS RUBBISH
The Qashqai's distinctive upswept rear windows has real visual impact and contributes to the cute looks but also lead to huge blind spots when head-checking before changing lanes, a classic example of form over function. Beyond that, forward vision is OK and the room in the rear is good enough for a couple of adults to happily occupy. The raised centre of the rear seat doesn't lend itself to three in the back for anything but a short time, not unusual for cars in this class.
4. IT DRIVES WELL
You can't have an all-wheel drive N-Sport but most people won't need all-paw grip in town. The combination of the 2.0-litre four-cylinder (106kW/200Nm) and a continuously variable transmission is good for city work, without being the most responsive in the class. A multi-link rear end endows the Qashqai with better than average manners over patchy surfaces and there's little jostling for those in the back. It's not going to excite but it won't disappoint buyers wanting to get from point A to B with minimum fuss.
5. N-SPORT IS PASSIVE ON SAFETY
A high five-star ANCAP rating reflects the structural integrity of the Qashqai. It achieved 36.56 out of a possible 37 and has six airbags to protect passengers. Active safety features are notably absent, though moving object detection, lane departure and blind spot monitoring can be found on the top-spec Ti variant. Likewise, the N-Sport doesn't have parking assist.