Don’t pay full price for this SUV
At $34,400 drive-away, the Qashqai ST+ would be reasonable value - if Nissan didn't have the entry-level Qashqai ST with auto for $28,990 on the road.
That's the bargain buy but it should mean you can seriously haggle on the price of an ST+, the mid-spec version with a fun-sapping continuously variable transmission.
Over the base ST you get seven-inch touchscreen with digital radio, satnav, 360-degree camera and power and heated mirrors.
That adds to 17-inch alloys, halogen headlights, LED daytime running lights, push button start, Bluetooth and audio streaming. You miss out on such treats as part-leather electric heated seats as found on the $36,999 drive-away ST-L.
No Qashqai has desirable Apple CarPlay/Android Auto connectivity.
The sharp body design is best jazzed up with colour - blue or red metallic adds $595.
Warranty's a decent five-year/unlimited-km, services are cheap at $803 for three-years/30,000km but 10,000km service intervals are short.
For better value, Nissan's larger X-Trail ST 2WD with auto is $32,990 drive-away.
Cloth seats feel robust and supportive and cabin design, soft-touch plastics and build quality are strong points. It just doesn't feel special.
The dated seven-inch touchscreen trails most rivals and Bluetooth connectivity can be sketchy.
The cabin's well insulated from road noise and it trumps most small SUVs for cabin space, making it a viable family car.
Head and legroom for rear passengers are brilliant, eclipsing smashes sales leaders Mitsubishi ASX and Mazda CX-3.
Disappointingly, there are no rear air vents. The 430L boot won't swallow the kids' bikes but trumps the ASX's 393L and CX-3's 264L.
It gets a decent tick for the family here, with five-star ANCAP rating, six airbags including full side curtains, two Isofix points, AEB, front and rear sensors, forward collision warning, lane departure warning and a 360-degree camera with Moving Object Detection feature.
The range-topping Ti gets blind spot warning, rear cross traffic alert and radar cruise control.
Sounds good so far but driver enjoyment is the let-down. The sole engine, a non-turbo 2.0-litre with just 106kW/200Nm, delivers few thrills.
It handles competently, cruises peacefully on its 17-inch wheels but takes an age to get up to speed. The transmission whines when pushed and there are no paddle-shifters to give you a say.
It's front-drive only so beach or basic bush trips are off the cards. For the school run and city traffic, it's just fine. Claimed thirst is 6.9L/100km; we returned 7.8L
Mazda CX-3 FWD sTouring auto $32,335 drive-away
Smaller but sweeter handling than the Nissan, the CX-3 is a good-looking tiddler but rear seat and boot space are limited. It has a classy cabin and better safety and infotainment but servicing is pricier at $1219 over three years.
Skoda Karoq110TSI $35,290 drive-away
As with the Qashqai, the Karoq sits close to the small SUV/medium SUV border. Really roomy inside with a 479L boot, the turbo engine has good urge via the dual-clutch auto. Generous equipment includes adaptive cruise, eight-inch screen and Apple CarPlay/Android Auto. Three years' servicing totals $1112.
Hyundai Kona 2WD Elite, $33,266 drive-away
Love-it-or-hate-it styling but Konas certainly stand out. The mid-spec Elite is full of goodies - leather appointed cabin, eight-inch touchscreen, premium audio and long active safety list. For another $3500, you can have a turbo AWD. Services are just $792 over three years.
The ST+ looks overpriced now the entry-level ST is on sale. Even a larger X-Trail ST is cheaper. Bargain hard on one or look at the massive list of quality small SUV rivals.
Nissan Qashqai ST + vitals
Price: $34,400 drive-away
Engine: 2.0-litre 4-cyl, 106kW/200Nm
Safety: 5 stars, 6 airbags, AEB, front and rear sensors, forward collision warning, lane departure warning, 360-degree camera