Nomadic Qashqai Outshines Rivals: Wins Small SUV Drive Car of the Year

Composites, aluminium drop weight, increase strength

Mon 01 May 23


The Nissan Qashqai derives its names from a semi-nomadic Iranian tribe.

The Qashqai people are renowned for their brave warriors and their beautiful textiles. Nissan chose the name because the automaker believes drivers will embrace that nomadic, adventurous spirit.

Back in 2006 in Europe, the Qashqai pioneered the crossover with its blend of hatchback compactness and SUV practicality. Now, the all-new Qashqai has a bold stance with sharp LED lighting and striking alloy wheels. With its roomy interior in an aerodynamic and compact body, the Qashqai once again brings a new vision to the small SUV market.

The model has a new 1.3L 4-cylinder turbo-charged petrol engine producing 110kW and 250Nm through the front weels, common to all variants. It will also deliver the poise and comfort that comes from an advanced multi-link rear suspension configuration, standard on all grades.

Inside Qashqai… new technology and materials and a spacious interior.

The continuously variable transmission is relatively quiet under load and delivers smooth acceleration up to posted speed limits.

Inside the cabin, there’s a clever infotainment screen with new Nissan software that looks sleek and is easy to use. The rest of the dash array is appealing and functional. Old-school air-conditioning controls are appreciated at a time when some rivals are opting for infotainment-based ‘soft’ controls.

A ‘floating-on-air’ effect on all roads comes from lighter materials and advanced stamping and welding techniques that increase strength and reduce weight. The bonnet, front fenders and doors made of aluminium are 21 kg lighter, while the tailgate is made from composites and saves 2.3 kg.

For better visibility, Nissan engineered a thinner A-pillar design and the mounting of the wing mirrors on the doors instead of the A-pillar. Rear knee room for passengers has grown by 28 mm to 608 mm, while headroom has increased by 15 mm. The boot is also 50 litres larger due to the lower cargo floor and redesigned suspension.

Footage courtesy of @caesguide

Along with the new technology and materials and a spacious interior, the 2023 Qashqai fought off all comers to be the 2023 Drive Car of the Year Best Small SUV, the toughest award to win in Australia. The Drive test team divides cars into 19 categories customised to help Australian consumer find the best car in every category.

To take out top honours in this category, a contender must put forward a strong value equation – it must drive well and needs to pair a strong tech suite with a comfortable cabin. 

Though it has risen in price by a substantial margin over its predecessor, the 2023 Nissan Qashqai comes well equipped, even for the entry-level variant – adaptive cruise control, digital instrument cluster, smartphone mirroring for the infotainment system, and front and rear parking sensors are standard.

Whether you’re buying a first car, looking for uncompromising vehicle safety and the ultimate in tech, or winding down in life looking for a higher driving position, small SUVs have a lot to offer.

The Qashqai slots in above the Nissan Juke light SUV and below the X-Trail mid-size alternative. Pricing begins just under $34,000 for the entry-level ST variant with a choice of four specifications, ending at $47,390 (before on-roads) for the Qashqai Ti.


  • Orson Whiels

    Orson Whiels has been a motoring writer for many years and was motoring writer at Queensland Country life in the 1960s-70s and then motoring editor at Australian Timberman.)


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