In recent years, with the growing number of publishers and increasingly turgid influencer scene, car brands have adopted a new strategy for product launches, separating the core motoring journalists from the lifestyle writers. As an OG lifestyle pub with memories of the ultra-competitive motoring journo launches, I’ve grown weary of the often watered down ‘lifestyle launch’, with barely a moment to experience the product the brand has forked out so much for me to be there for. When Nissan reached out to see if I’d like to come along to their new Nissan Qashqai launch, I was hesitant, but am happy to report that both the car and the 24 hours in country Victoria, combined for one of the best launches I’ve ever been on.
The launch kicked off at Melbourne Airport where I was greeted by a Nissan representative and handed the keys to a sparkling Gun Metallic Nissan Qashqai, along with a posh personalised leather key fob. After a quick overview of the handsome car, I climbed in to find another lovely touch – a beautifully printed itinerary on some quality stock. As I adjusted my sitting position, I wondered whether Nissan was using these fancy accoutrements to win me over because the product might not. Well, for the first 50kms it didn’t, so the keyring certainly helped.
Unfortunately for Nissan, I’d never driven a Nissan, nor had I used a Nissan infotainment system, nor had the chap showing me the car explained how to use it. Within the first five minutes of my trip North the map had left a direction so late I missed a freeway turn off, and the Bluetooth system had proved impossible to navigate. Once I’d gotten back on track, I turned my attention entirely to the Bluetooth and roughly 30mins later, accepted defeat.
Hammering along the highway, I was utterly perplexed. The car had impressed me in every way since I’d climbed in, so how could it not have Bluetooth? I tried to focus on what I liked, the seat, a superb amount of support and comfort, one I could sit in for a day of driving no issues. The driving position and steering wheel placement, the interior, and the absence of road noise. As a package, with a great list of standard safety features, the Qashqai felt like a quality piece of kit, and I struggled to believe the $26,490 starting price.
Not only was it comfortable, but it was also surprisingly spritely for a car of its size. The 2.0-litre engine produces 106kW with 200Nm of torque, and it didn’t miss a mark accelerating out of sharp bends or overtaking on the open road. At speed, and on the brakes, the Nissan Qashqai S-TL was solid and unperturbed, I was beginning to imagine it in my life, but what life would it be with phone connectivity? I decided enough was enough; I had to solve the Bluetooth issue.
Twenty minutes, and multiple Youtube videos later, I’d solved the problem, numerous presses of the AUX button were needed. How infuriating. Surely the button should be called SOURCE or feature a small Bluetooth logo? Once Sophie B. Hawkins was blasting through the stereo I hit the road again in search of Red Beard Historic Bakery in Trentham, where I was to meet a group of fellow bread loving journos.
Over the next four hours, our group participated in a Sourdough bread making class with bakery owner John Reid. While you may not have heard of him, he’s kind of a big deal in the Australian bread scene. During the workshop, we learnt how to shape and style dough, before baking it and eating it fresh out of the 130-year-old Scotch oven. John equipped us with the knowledge we needed to bake at home and armed us with some flour to get us on our way. It was simple, practical and fun, words you might well use to describe the Nissan Qashai.
A 30 min trip from Trentham to Daylesford allowed me to give the Qashqai a proper squeeze on twisty country roads, and while I don’t drive these cars within an inch of their life, it’s nice to know what they’re capable of. When I arrived at the stunning Lake House Hotel, I was more than satisfied with my experience behind the wheel of the Nissan Qashqai S-TL and settled in for a spectacular evening of booze and food at the hotel’s two-hatted restaurant with the Nissan team.
The following morning we set off in the Qashqai’s in search of some locally sourced ingredients to make lunch with the Lake House Chef. Using our hands, we selected some beautiful fish from ponds at Tuki Trout farm, grabbed some pate and their in-house smoked sausage and returned to the hotel with our bounty. A very hands-on hour later, we sat to a delicious lunch dining on our butter drenched trout and charcuterie selection before my plane home required my departure.
My drive back to Tullamarine was swift and extremely pleasant, at times hauling along open country roads without a car in sight. Along the way, I noted a degree of purpose to the Nissan Qashqai, like it was sure of itself, confident even. Once I’d given the keys back and run to my boarding plane, I reflected on a good looking, practical and affordable machine, now able to understand precisely why it was Europe’s best selling small SUV.
For more information about the Nissan Qashqai head to the Nissan website.