It seems strange, as 2022 comes to an end, to find a high-end vehicle still requiring a cable to connect a smartphone to its infotainment system.
That is probably the stand-out limitation of using an Android phone in the Nissan Qashqai 2022 model. Even as rivals move rapidly towards allowing Android Auto to enjoy the wireless privileges afforded Apple CarPlay, the Qashqai remains firmly in late-2010s mode with a demand to plug in the handset before being able to access phone apps on the infotainment system.
Once connected, the likes of Waze and Spotify perform flawlessly. The limitations of Android Auto – it is awful for previewing a route on Google Maps, and does not allow fine-tuning a search of songs or destinations via the smartphone itself when connected – are more about Google’s lack of commitment to the platform than Nissan’s lack of attention.
This all means that it is a key requirement that Nissan take on-board technology into its own hands. To its credit, it offers a credible update on the Nissan ProPILOT system, which provides Predictive Front Collision Warning and Lane Keep Assist. These form part of level 1 autonomous driving, a solid early introduction to autonomy that allows the car to share some of the basic driving demands like regular steering, accelerating and braking, through advanced image-processing technology. Built-in maps help anticipate bends, junctions, and off-ramps, taking autonomy a small step further.
The Collision Warning can hone in on both the car in front and the next one ahead, so that it can detect sudden deceleration of the car in front of the one being followed. The Lane Keeping Aid offers fairly aggressive lane centering through firm steering wheel action – sometimes too firm! It works best on single-lane traffic.
A Driver Attention Alert system detects drowsiness, or behaviour the system interprets as such, and sounds a chime, along with an amber coffee cup display. Sadly, it does not yet make the coffee.
The 2022 Qashqai is a precursor to the recently launched E-Power version, which will use an electric battery powered by both a small petrol engine and regenerative braking to extend the car’s range to well beyond 1000km on one tank. For now, however, South Africans must still cope with the wallet-bending cost per kilometer that petrol engines impose on us.
So, what do you do with a car caught between past and future? Well, sit back and enjoy the ride. The Qashqai practically invented the idea of the family SUV, and the third generation solidifies that positioning. It avoids the risk of becoming typecast as a boring family car with sharpened lines and a sporty design.
It provides a comfortable drive, in both the front and rear, underlining its family cred. The interior is roomy and a little more luxurious than before, as one would expect of a car starting at R568,000 for an entry level 1.3T manual version.
That is just about palatable enough to accept the limitations that 2022 places on vehicle technology, while we prepare for 2023.
* Arthur Goldstuck is founder of World Wide Worx and editor-in-chief of Gadget.co.za and Gadget Wheels. Follow him on Twitter on @art2gee