Three Row Versatility
The third row of seats is ingeniously practical. Designed for children or as occasional seats for small adults up to about 1.6m tall, the angle of the backrest has seven adjustment settings and can, of course, be folded completely flat to increase luggage space. The seats split on a 50/50 basis and each can be folded away simply by pulling on a single strap: there is no need to remove head restraints first.
The addition of a third row of seats allows families the option of transforming their QASHQAI+2 into a spacious family car into the ‘kids bus’, for those busy days out playing sport or weekends away which can be a logistical nightmare for parents, worried about whether the family, kids and their friends, as well as all their baggage will fit.
When folded away, there’s a large flat loading area left behind which provides almost 500 litres of potential luggage capacity, an increase of 90 litres over QASHQAI. The new rear door and revised interior panels mean the loading height has been reduced by 13 mm to 770 mm while, at 1186 mm, the opening width is a remarkable 224 mm wider.
Unlike many seven-seat vehicles, QASHQAI+2 has a full depth roller-blind style tonneau cover. With the rearmost seats folded it can be used conventionally but if the third set of seats are to be occupied, it can be removed and stowed in a special compartment under the boot floor. Like the extra pair of seats, therefore, the tonneau can remain in the vehicle at all times.
The lid of the underfloor stowage area, meanwhile, can also double as a cargo divider so fragile shopping – eggs or bottles for example – can be safely loaded where it won’t be damaged by heavier items. The load area is set off by a stylish stainless steel kick plate which offers protection to the leading edge of the boot floor when loading heavy items.
RIDE & Handling
Mechanically, QASHQAI+2 follows the lead set by the original model. That means a stretched version of Nissan’s C-platform featuring strut-type front suspension with combined coil-over-strut assemblies and a forward lower link. The suspension assembly is mounted on a subframe which is attached to the body via compliant rubber bushes to isolate road noise and vibration from the platform, improving both refinement and ride comfort. A front anti-roll bar is attached directly to the strut assembly for more effective control of body roll under cornering.
A fully independent multi-link rear suspension has been used for precise handling and high-speed stability. Attached to the vehicle via a rigid rear subframe to keep unwanted noise and vibrations to a minimum, the compact assembly features an aluminium rear upper link to reduce weight: the saving is in the region of 4 kg.
The extra length and equipment found in QASHQAI+2 has raised the overall weight of the vehicle by approximately 100 kg. Suspension settings have been revised to take account of the extra weight, while steering assistance – all QASHQAI models use electric power steering – has also been retuned.
Two versions of the chassis are available, offering the choice of front-wheel drive or sophisticated ALL-MODE four-wheel drive.
Developed by Nissan, the ALL-MODE system – which is available on 2.0-litre diesel and petrol models – allows secure and relaxed driving with advanced electronics taking care of all traction needs, ensuring that QASHQAI+2 has grip at all times no matter how severe the conditions. Unlike some other automatic four-wheel drive systems, ALL-MODE uses advanced electronics rather than hydraulic pumps to ensure drive is transferred between wheels and axles the instant the need arises.
Under normal conditions, QASHQAI+2 operates in front-wheel drive which reduces energy losses and saves on fuel. The instant wheel slippage is detected however, a centre clutch in the rear final drive is electronically activated and drive is correctly apportioned between front and rear axles.
The system has three modes, selected via a switch on the centre console. In two-wheel drive mode, the system is permanently set in front-wheel drive, ideal for fine weather on-road use. When the Lock setting is pushed, however, the system switches to permanent four-wheel drive mode with drive split 57:43 front to rear.
The most practical mode, however, is ‘select-and-forget’ Auto, in which the system is left to its own devices. Sensors linking the engine’s ECU with the four-wheel drive and ABS controller constantly monitor wheel slippage and automatically send signals to the electromagnetic centre clutch mounted just ahead of the rear axle to apportion torque correctly.