2008 Nissan Qashqai | road test

Posted on Jun 24, 2008 by

Raking In The Qashqai

It would seem to be the
trend nowadays to put your PR/ad agency to the challenge by finding
the most obscure name for your product and to see if they can come up
with some method for the public to buy into what is in essence a
completely abstract concept. So it has been with the .
Who would have though that a vehicle with such an unpronounceable
name would now be hitting the roads and would be selling as
successfully as it is. Maybe it is partly the cache of driving a
vehicle that suggests you have a greater understanding of other
cultures: the ‘yes, of course, I know what Qashqai means!’

For those of you who
don’t, and trust me you won’t be alone, ‘Qashqai’ (cash-kai)
is the name for a tribal confederation of clans of Turkic origin in
Iran. Of course! Now it becomes clear as day why a Japanese car
manufacturer would give their compact SUV such a title. Well,
actually it doesn’t, and there are several aspects of the Qashqai
that are equally as peculiar – but more of that later.

The exterior of the
Qashqai, to be honest, is not unattractive and grows on you the more
you regard it. There is something quite reptilian about the
distinctive bonnet creases which flow up the bonnet as continuations
of the chrome surround to the badge on the grille, while the
elongated eye-shape of the side windows with their black-out frames
and the gradually rising crease along the shoulderline of the doors
present a pleasing dynamism when you see the car in profile.

The smooth curvature of
the nose and large wrap-around headlamp clusters also give the
Qashqai a sense of sophistication combined with strength, while the
rear-end comprising the high-lift tailgate is more functionally
aerodynamic. All these positive exterior elements are the result of
pooling the design talents from Nissan’s Design Europe team, making
the Qashqai appear to be a dynamic sports car-influenced rugged
compact SUV in a fuel efficient package.

And much of that is true.
The 142bhp lightweight aluminium 2.0-litre engine and 6-speed CVT
gearbox are well mated. The constantly variable transmission (CVT)
does produce a slightly whiny tone to the engine under acceleration
which can take a little getting used to, but the performance is still
impressive and ideal for both the nippiness required for inner city
manoeuvrability and monotonous high-speed highway journeys. With a 2
or 4 wheel drive or automatic select engage knob you have that little
extra versatility if you want to venture off-road, although the beach
would be as far as we would feel comfortable taking it. The CVT also
produces seamless gear changes if you prefer to use the manual shift
option to the gearbox.

The drive is quite
pleasant as SUVs go. The driving position is both very comfortable
and of course you have the advantage of sitting slightly higher up
than other saloon cars for improved visibility which is also aided by
the impressive coverage offered by the side mirrors. Wind noise is
minimal up to around 100kph but then starts to become noticeable,
however vibration from the road is kept to a minimum. Body roll and
handling is well-controlled thanks to the independent suspension so
the Qashqai feels pretty nimble when cornering, and the steering is –
from a male perspective – nicely weighted, although it might feel a
big heavy for the fairer sex, especially if you are being demanding
of the car through tighter turns.

Economy figures are good,
if not outstanding, returning around 6.8lt/100km. A standard
hatchback would be better, but you wouldn’t then get the extra
ground clearance and front and rear approach and departure angles so
useful for avoiding high kerbs in car parks and blown out tyres on
highways, because let’s face it, the Qashqai is not going to be
your first choice if you want a ‘proper’ off-roader. But for a
functional town car with ample interior space for five occupants –
as long as the rear three are children – and enough trunk space for
a sizeable weekly shop, the Qashqai serves well.



But now the peculiarities
start: if you are looking for a stylish interior, then you might be
disappointed. While the designers have attempted to place emphasis on
the driving position by colour-coding the dash, steering wheel and
centre console differently to the rest of the interior facings, this
has resulted in quite a mishmash of tones – in our test vehicle
there were a total of 5 different tones of brown, even though we were
pretty certain that at least two of the tones were meant to be the
same. This is unfortunately indicative of the compromised finish
throughout the Qashqai’s interior.

Even though our test
vehicle had pretty good quality leather seats throughout, that’s
where the feel of quality ended. The materials used in the instrument
cluster, while it was clear and well illuminated at night, look to be
manufactured to the lowest acceptable quality requirements, as are
the indicator and light stalks, and the bulbous gearshift lever. The
plastics used for the centre console and lower doors appear in the
same category and in our test vehicle looked worn after a little over
10,000km on the clock. Storage is also limited in the cabin
considering this is likely to be a car for whom at least part of the
buying demographic will be busy families with plenty of clutter. The
air conditioning is competent in the front of the cabin but is
limited for the rear seat passengers, which doesn’t bode well on
long journeys.

Admittedly, there are a
range of options available for the Qashqai and while we can list them
(ESP, foglamps, dimming review mirror, 17” alloy wheels, audio with
Bluetooth compatibility, 6 x CD radio with 6 speakers, satnav, cruise
control, ultrasonic rear parking sensors, intelligent key) we can’t
tell you how good they are: we had a radio cassette player in ours –
that was it.

But to be realistic, with
the Qashqai’s starting price of around AED70,000 and topping out at
around AED84,000, there are certain limitations you expect from the
car you buy. Its competitors? : the Hyundai Tucson/Kia Sportage feels
of equal quality in terms of drive and interior finish, and comes
with a larger 2.7-litre V6 which will eat into your economy figures
but will give you the ‘ooomph’ you’d expect from a four wheel
drive; and (surprisingly, you might think) the Ford Focus – if
interior space and price are your buying criteria. Obviously, it
doesn’t have the all-round clearance or a 4WD but it is a better
drive with better handling with similar fuel economy, and smaller

Ultimately, the Qashqai
is inventive in its design and has very good intentions in terms of
what it wants to offer. Unfortunately, the execution is lacking, and
while the car may look impressive from the outside, anyone driving
past and looking in will see the driver barely able to hide an
expression of mild disappointment.

2008 Nissan Qashqai Technical Specifications

Engine –
Power –
Torque –
Transmission –
6-speed CVT
0-100 kph –
Top speed – 190
Economy –
Price Range –
AED70,000 – 84,000

* Prices are indicative and may vary at the time of purchase. All prices are ex-Dubai showrooms. Please check with your local dealer for current prices and offers.


3 Responses to 2008 Nissan Qashqai | road test

  1. Health Talks Reply

    October 7, 2014 at 7:51 am

    A standard hatchback would be better, but you wouldn’t then get the extra ground clearance and front and rear approach.

  2. MAYLENE Reply

    October 18, 2011 at 11:11 am


    do you have fired iron color available?? which year model is that color?



    • Pankaj Dev

      Pankaj Reply

      October 19, 2011 at 10:00 am


      You need to get in touch with your nearest Nissan dealer to check what they have in stock.

      Best regards,


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