Back in 2018, we told you the story of how Qashqai means “horse with white forehead”, and is the name of an Iranian semi-nomadic tribe, renowned for their bravery and beautiful textiles. Strangely, this seems to fit Nissan’s 2023 ST-L variant quite well.
Okay, it’s not a horse and it doesn’t have a white forehead (although the headliner is a kind of off-white so maybe that counts), but there is something odd that occurs when you first get into the Qashqai.
It almost immediately gives you a sense of confidence that you can tackle whatever the road throws at you. So the name fits, and to be honest, at this price point, the interior is decent, with lots of soft touch surfaces, and nice fabric in the seat centres.
That’s a word you’ll find a fair few times in this review – “nice”. That’s because the baby Nissan that’s bigger than a Juke, and smaller than an X-Trail is just that; nice. It’s not offensive in any way, and is easy to get in and drive straight away.
It all kind of just works straight off the bat. It’s not boring, but it’s not an overly exciting drive either. The reality is though, you buy a Qashqai because it’s a comfortable, easy to live with, everyday car – not because you want so much power it’ll rip your face off.
Sometimes it’s okay for a car to be just a car, and this is one of those occasions. There’s nothing wrong with that either.
Visibility from the driver’s seat is good and we really like Nissan’s current interior and exterior styling direction. It looks purposeful, with a nice bit of flair, much like an Oxford Suit, but with a purple silk liner. And that’s a good thing.
The seats are comfortable, even after a couple of hours behind the wheel. In the ST-L they’re a half leather and fabric combination, which we actually like. Oddly, it has seat heaters, which feel a little weird on fabric bases.
The lower half of said seats are a little short, but were still supportive enough. Compact SUVs often suffer from cramped rear accommodation, but the Qashqai doesn’t fall into that trap. Rear space is good, and easily passed the seven-year-old child test.
In terms of family friendliness, the cabin has a decent amount of room, and rear leg space is good. You’ll also find ISOFIX mounts on the two outer seats, and three top tether points. You’ll even be able to use the centre armrest with two kid’s seats in place.
The cup holders came in handy on longer trips, offering the perfect spot for their drinks and snacks. Boot space is adequate, but there is an odd bump just before the bottom of the rear seats.
It doesn’t seem to impact storage much but does mean that there isn’t a flat floor with the seats folded down. It’s still big enough to get a pram in, and have enough space for other items. If you don’t need a wagon or large SUV, it’ll get the job done.
On the tech front, the 12.3-inch touchscreen works well, with very little lag, while wireless Apple CarPlay is easy to set up and quick to connect every time you get in the car. Screen quality is good, and the 360-degree camera is easy to see, even in low light.
There’s a wireless charging pad with a nice ridge on it to stop your phone sliding around. It was a snug fit for the iPhone 14 Pro though. The built in sat-nav works well and sometimes did a better job navigating than certain other navigation apps through the phone.
There’s also enough 12V and USB ports throughout the car to keep everything charged. On the road, it’ll keep up with traffic easily and even sounds a little raucous at higher RPMs.
The little turbocharged 1.3-litre 4-cylinder claims a 0-100km/h time of 8.9 seconds, and based on this writer’s experience, I’d say that’s pretty accurate.
Fuel economy from the 110kW/250Nm front-wheel drive is an acceptable 8.6-litres/100km in real world testing. It’s a little north of Nissan’s claimed 6.1-litres, but not unexpected given how much stop/start driving we did in suburbia.
The 2023 Nissan Qashqai ST-L feels like it has some sporty intentions in the ride department, and certainly doesn’t handle like a soggy trifle. It’s no sports car though and is let down by some poor bounce control when pushing hard.
Overall ride quality is not too bad, but the suspension does seem to crash when going over speed bumps. Yours truly found this a little surprising for an SUV, and suspension travel is definitely on the shorter side. It’s not a deal breaker though.
You’ll also find three drive modes (Eco, Standard and Sport), with the latter offering the best get up and go. Safety features include the standard fare, along with vehicle dynamic control, hill start assist, front and rear parking sensors, and tyre pressure monitoring.
A rear seat/door alert reminds you to get your kids out of the back seat, but the ST-L does miss out on Nissan’s ProPilot+ tech, including adaptive cruise control and lane assist. All-in-all though, it’s impressive for the $45,775 drive away price tag.
If you’re after a small, comfortable and functional SUV, that will get you or your small family from A to B, then the 2023 Nissan Qashqai ST-L is for you. It’s safe, requires minimal fuss to operate. You could do a lot worse than this car as your daily transport.
As journalists, we often get hung up on the latest this, or the best driving dynamics, but in reality, 80 per cent of people just want a car that does what it says on the tin. This compact SUV is it.
Our test vehicle was provided by Nissan Australia. To find out more about the 2023 Nissan Qashqai ST-L, contact your local Nissan dealer.