As fuel prices head ever closer to that once unthinkable R12 per litre ceiling, the Nissan Qashqai 1.5 Acenta dCi reaffirms all that is good about frugal, diesel motoring for our favourite female guest writer, Carri-Anne Kelly.
For the longest time diesel was subject to a lower government fuel tax then petrol, but in modern times with the proliferation of more hi-tech oil burners, this is no longer the case. This has forced the price of diesel to catch up to unleaded petrol at the pumps. Combine that increase with the price premium that a diesel vehicle fetches off the showroom floor and who can blame diesel owners for being a tad glum these days? Then I hop into the simple and basic Nissan Qashqai 1.5 dCi. Nissan already have a 2.0-litre dCi option in the Qashqai range and that is a brilliant car, but this 1.5-litre turbo-diesel, which been sourced from the Nissan Micra, may only have 78 kW and 240 Nm, but also has the potential to restore one’s faith in cheap, simple diesels.
Let me cut to the chase. In a week with the Nissan Qashqai 1.5 dCi it returned fuel economy figures of 4.6 L/100 km and a travelled distance of 1 200 km on its 65-litre tank. Yes, I managed to beat Nissan’s own claimed figures of 5.1 L/100 km and the range when I returned the car indicated 28 km until empty.
What makes these figures even more impressive for the Qashqai 1.5 dCi is that they were ‘real world’ economy figures. The test unit was driven to whatever the prevailing speed limit was. It was used in stop/start traffic and with numerous ventures into and out of the city. It endured typical Western Cape winter and rain too, with less than ideal economy conditions most of the time.
Setting off on my economy run, Qashqai dCi’s onboard computer was less ambitious than myself about how far we might go, telling me a full tank would take me 779 km. I knew something special was on the cards however, when it took 250 km for the needle just to move an inch off the ‘full’ sign. At this point the average consumption was down to 4.5 L/100 km. By the half tank mark I had traveled exactly 600 km and the Qashqai assured me another 550 km was available, meaning I had a clear buffer zone between empty and the magical 1000 km mark. Slow and steady wins the prize, but I wanted more than a ton. I wanted 1 200 km if I could just continue to drive calmly.
The physical law you need to adhere to in aiming for good fuel economy is maintaining the cars inertia at all times. On the motor way, through traffic lights, around bends, you name it – you must not impede the natural momentum of the car. This involves keeping your eye far on the horizon and avoiding cars merging into the slow lane in front of you. It also means not being forced to speed up by a tailgating speeder if you move into the fast lane. Picking up speed downhill and using less throttle uphill helps too, as does a long in-gear approach to traffic stops. It takes planning and concentration, but the gains are tangible.
Probably the best fuel saving technique you can use is to not over rev from a stationary start. Set yourself a ‘rev limit’ by seeing what revs you use in top gear at your comfortable highway cruising speed. In the Qashqai 1.5 dCi, 110 km/h in sixth gear saw the engine ticking over at around 2 500 r/min – that was my limit in moving through the gears from a stop.
It’s also worth mentioning that during my resulting 4.6 L/100km economy run, I wasn’t ambling along at 40 km/h on the N1, but rather stuck to 60 km/h in a 60 zone and 110 km/h in a 120 zone; reasonable driving practice for anyone. For all the fuel saving technologies manufacturers are working on these days, they can always be supplemented by thoughtful and sensible driving. So as a matter of interest, why not zero your odometer and let us know how far you manage to travel on your next tank of fuel.
Let’s not forget the star of the show though, the Nissan Qashqai 1.5 dCi. Even with the small, frugal heart and the rather basic Acenta specification, it is still quite simply one of the most user-friendly, practical, comfortable and reliable crossovers you could lay your hands on. I’m talking utterly perfect for the everyday family run around (dogs, babies, shopping) and above that, a car you could be proud to park in your drive way.
I like to think of it as the Volkswagen Golf of crossovers. It’s a no questions asked car. It is good anywhere and everywhere and everyone knows it. Perhaps because it’s so good, Nissan aren’t shy to let the price climb up a bit to R280 590. For a 1.5 dCi? Think of the economy though and it is still is a whole heap of very capable car for the money.
What we like…
- Beautiful economy when the price at the pumps keeps climbing.
- The solidity of the Qashqai. It’s like a good car from the right side of town.
What we would like…
- The Acenta to have a little more specification included as standard.
- A few thousand rands cash back, but it’s fine, we’ll soon save that with good economy.
|Base Price||R280 590|
|Warranty||3 year / 100 000 km|
|Engine Capacity||1 461 cm³|
|No. Of Cylinders||4-cylinders, in-line|
|Power||78 kW @ 4 000 r/min|
|Torque||240 Nm @ 2 000 r/min|
|Drive type||Front-Wheel Drive|
|Top Speed||177 km/h (claimed)|
|Fuel Consumption||5.1 L/100km (claimed combined)|
|CO2 Emissions||135 g/km|