The new-generation Nissan Qashqai is the most impressive of the Japanese brand’s upgraded SUV model line-up.
That could be all you need to know. And if you don’t need all-wheel drive or seven seats, this is arguably going to be the best fit for you.
While I wouldn’t personally go for this exact spec (nor this colour), I think the 2023 Nissan Qashqai ST-L ticks a lot of boxes for a lot of people.
The downsides? It’s a lot more expensive than it was in the last generation model, and the servicing costs have to be seen to be believed.
Even so – this little SUV took me by surprise. I liked it a whole lot more than I was expecting.
The Qashqai ST-L is penultimate variant in the local line-up, with a list price of $42,190 plus on-road costs.
That is $7590 more than the previous-generation Qashqai ST-L, and while the brand has added a lot to this new-gen model, it is a pricey little thing this time around – like, that’s 22 per cent more for this grade, or a fifth of the asking price. Yikes.
It also puts into pretty rarified air when it comes to the competition.
For similar money, you could find yourself driving a Toyota Corolla Cross GXL AWD Hybrid ($42,250), or a Kia Seltos GT-Line 2.0 FWD ($41,500), and both of those models have some differentiation to make them stand out against the Qashqai.
One thing that the Qashqai offers that many rivals don’t is an extensive array of colour options and combinations for buyers to choose from.
If you buy the ST you are limited to single-colour only paint finishes, but ST+ and grades above have the choice of two-tone finishes.
All but one of the single-colour options are $700, while most two-tone paint adds a hefty $1200 to the ask. More on available colours below.
It feels like a new-generation model, and that’s very important.
The massive 12.3-inch media screen in this grade certainly helps – it’s crisp, very clear, very quick and has a fantastic reversing camera with 360-degree view as well.
There are buttons for the media controls as well, meaning that you can be in control of the controls when you’re driving, unlike so many other models these days that have touchscreen or haptic buttons which are hard to get to grips with (literally).
This grade had another smaller digital screen with regular dials for the driver – no flashy big screen in the binnacle, unfortunately.
One thing I wasn’t sold on in the ST-L was the two-tone blue finish around the cabin. It might look okay with a white or black exterior, but with the red paint outside, it looks really weird.
The materials are quite good. There’s a nice soft padded section on top of the dash, nice soft armrests, and a great shaped steering wheel which is lovely to hold.
The storage up front could be better; there are cupholders between the front seats, and a centre console bin with a couple of USB ports as well as a wireless charger – but there could be more options. There certainly are in other SUVs.
I wasn’t overly happy with the ill-fitting glovebox cover on the car I drove, either.
One of the reasons I was impressed with this small SUV was how it didn’t feel small in the second row. I’m 182 cm or 6’0” in the old money, and I had heaps of room in front of my knees, good toe room, heaps of headroom and decent shoulder width as well.
If you are after one of those cars that is definitely on the bigger side on the inside, but not so huge on the outside, it could be the right car for you.
Storage is okay in the back, with map pockets on the back of both front seats, a flip-down armrest with cupholders (be careful, they’re a bit shallow), and door pockets for bottles.
There are directional air-vents, USB-A and USB-C ports, and for parents you will be happy to learn the Qashqai has outboard ISOFIX and three top-tether points to secure seats in with ease.
And speaking of ease, the Qashqai has a brilliant parent-friendly element – the rear doors open 90-degrees, making it simple to load a child seat, or indeed a child, in with ease.
As for the boot capacity, there’s a claimed 418 litres of cargo space, and the shape of the boot area is a bit strange – but I managed to fit my child’s pram, and a few bags of groceries, without any hassle.
It’ll be better for families with two children or less, but it is a pretty practical car.
Oh, there’s a space-saver spare wheel under the boot floor as well.
The Nissan Qashqai range, at the moment, is only available with one powertrain option – a 1.3-litre four-cylinder turbo petrol engine.
Compared with the existing Qashqai, it has seen a boot up the backside in terms of outputs, with 110kW of power (5500rpm) and 250Nm of torque (1600-3750rpm) giving it as much punch as some seven-seat VW SUVs. Seriously.
It makes use of a continuously variable transmission (CVT) automatic, which won’t be to all tastes – but having driven this shared engine in other Renault-Nissan Alliance products with a dual-clutch taking care of shifting, I can tell you the CVT is a sweetheart by comparison. It is front-wheel drive only in Australia.
There’s a new e-Power hybrid variant due to launch by the end of 2023, too. That model takes a different approach to the idea of a “petrol-electric hybrid”, in that you fill up a petrol tank, which powers a 1.5-litre turbo-petrol three-cylinder engine, but that engine never directly powers the wheels.
Instead, it just works like a generator, feeding the battery pack and helping to send power to the electric motor at the front axle via an inverter. Complex? Yes. Intriguing? Definitely.
I really liked the drive experience in the Qashqai. I came away thinking, “well, that did everything pretty bloody good – maybe it is worth that much money!”.
As mentioned, the 1.3-litre turbo petrol has a fair whack of power and torque for the size of this compact SUV, and it offers pretty zesty response – even with a CVT auto.
That transmission can be a little interruptive at low speeds as it tries to cope with some minor turbo lag from a standstill, but honestly you get used to it very quickly, and it behaves itself if you’re thoughtful with your throttle application from a stop.
I was super impressed with the ride comfort and composure on 19-inch alloy wheels – across a mix of different surfaces, the chassis maintained an enjoyable, comfortable, but still tied-down feel. Almost VW-like, in some ways.
The steering, too, impressed me. It mightn’t be the most fun thing to push through a set of twisty corners, but boy is it easy to live with, thanks to its accuracy and directness.
That comes into its own in parking situations, too. At just 4425mm long, this is hardly an intimidating car to get into and try to park, but I really found it a cinch to reverse-parallel park thanks to the excellent surround-view camera system and easy to manage controls.
It was quiet on coarse-chip surfaces, there wasn’t too much wind or road noise, and I found it to be one of the easiest cars to live with in quite a while.
The Qashqai ST-L asks for a lot of money, but it gives you a generous helping of standard specification as a result.
Qashqai ST-L highlights:
- 19-inch wheels
- 360-degree camera
- 12.3-inch touchscreen display
- Satellite navigation with live traffic updates
- Wireless Apple CarPlay
- Adaptive, auto-levelling LED headlights (12 segments per light)
- LED tail lights
- LED daytime running lights
- LED front fog lights
- Rain-sensing wipers
- Proximity key access
- Push-button start
- Auto-folding, heated side mirrors with LED indicators
- Rear privacy glass
- Roof rails
- Front and rear USB-A, USB-C ports
- 6-speaker sound system
- Leather-wrapped steering wheel, heated
- Heated front seats
- Cloth and leather seats
- Power driver’s seat adjustment
- Wireless phone charger
- Front parking sensors
- Dual-zone climate control
- Back-seat cupholder armrest
- Auto-dimming rear-view mirror
That’s a healthy list of gear, that’s for sure. But check out the pricing and specs story to see if there might be a Qashqai that fits your needs and wants better than this ST-L grade. Personally, I’d be content with the ST+.
- Gun Metallic: $700
- Ceramic Grey: $700
- Platinum: $700
- Burgundy: $700
- Fuji Sunset Red: $700
- Ivory Pearl: $700
- Magnetic Blue: $NCO
- Pearl Black: $700
- Ivory Pearl with Pearl Black roof: $1200
- Pearl Black with Gun Metallic roof: $1200
- Fuji Sunset Red with Pearl Black roof: $1200
- Two-tone Ceramic Grey with Pearl Black roof: $1200
- Magnetic Blue with Pearl Black roof: $500
The Nissan Qashqai has achieved the maximum five-star ANCAP safety rating, as a result of testing back in 2021.
Why so long ago, you ask? It took a long time to arrive here, and that rating was based on Euro NCAP scores.
The Qashqai was lauded for its impressive scores in the testing, pushing it up the shopping list for those who value safety in their new car. It managed 91 per cent for both adult and child occupant protection, 70 per cent for vulnerable road-user protection, but a very strong 95 per cent for safety assist features.
Standard safety features include:
- 7 airbags incl. front-centre
- Autonomous Emergency Braking (AEB)
- Pedestrian, Cyclist detection
- Junction assist
- Reverse AEB incl. Pedestrian detection
- Active speed limiter
- Adaptive cruise control
- Blind-spot monitoring
- Rear cross-traffic alert
- Forward collision warning
- Lane departure warning
- Lane keep assist
- Rear parking sensors
- Reversing camera
- Traffic sign recognition
- Tyre pressure monitoring
Qashqai ST+ adds:
- Intelligent Around View Monitor (360 cameras)
- Moving Object Detection
Qashqai ST-L adds:
- Front parking sensors
- ProPILOT (lane centring)
- Alarm system
Qashqai Ti adds:
- Intelligent Park Assist (semi-auto park)
- Side parking sensors
It is definitely well specced for safety-conscious customers.
The long-term costs are a bit scary, quite frankly.
That’s because Nissan has a very high price point for its capped-price servicing plan, with maintenance due every 12 months/15,000km.
The first six services/90,000km of cover is priced as follows: $375; $694; $398; $1027; $422; $1108. That means the average over that period is a whopping $670.66 per service. Ouch.
The brand at least backs its cars with free roadside assistance for the duration of the new-car warranty, which is five years/unlimited kilometres.
The Qashqai has an official combined cycle fuel consumption figure of 6.1 litres per 100km, and it requires premium 95 RON petrol for its 55-litre fuel tank. If you’re curious as to what I saw during my time in the new Qashqai, my return was 7.3L/100km over a few hundred kilometres of mixed driving, including family daycare runs, highway driving and urban running.
If it was a bit more realistically priced for the buy-in and the ongoing costs, it could be even more competitive than it already is.
Those considerations shouldn’t stop you from checking the Qashqai out, though, because if your bank account can handle the economics of the situation, you’ll find a whole lot of value in this little SUV.
It’s going to be very high on my “you should check this out” list, because it will fit so many different buyers’ needs.
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