Whether it’s dashing out of the office to meet clients or escaping the city for a weekend getaway, SUVs are proving more popular than ever. Two noteworthy options are the Nissan Qashqai and Mercedes-Benz GLA.
When the Japanese design and build a car, it remains well made, and same principle applies to the new 2014 Qashqai. Interestingly named and uniquely styled, the Qashqai has a lot going for it in the SUV stakes, offering drivers a little something different from the norm. Described as an “urban triathlete” by Nissan, the Qashqai has an unmistakable profile married with plenty of real world practicality, lending itself well to use as a suburban people carrier or quick inner city navigator.
Premium for less
The Qashqai features a number of orientations and drivetrain options for drivers to mull over when deciding to purchase. The top of the range 1.6 DCI Acenta AWD grabs our attention and carries with it a competitive price tag of R384 000, designed to sway drivers over from the smorgasbord of SUVs available nowadays.
Focusing on the aforementioned Acenta AWD, it features Nissan’s new Xtronic CVT transmission, aimed at enhancing both responsiveness and fuel efficiency, which are both growing concerns for any driver. To that end, the 1.6 DCI version found on the Acenta AWD produces a respectable 96 kW of power, along with a CO2 emissions rating of 139 g/ km. Added to this is an estimated fuel consumption of 5.3 litres per 100 kilometres.
One of the other enhancements touted on the Acenta is a 4x4-i mode, maximising the vehicles traction for specific ventures off-road, incorporating a range of sensors measuring the degree of wheel slip for each wheel itself, and then instantly re-distributing the car’s torque to compensate. The upshot of all this means traction remains stable and responsive regardless of the surface driven on, or whether it be dusty dirt road in Dullstroom or mounting a curb in Rivonia.
Comfort and quality
For the R384 000 that the Acenta AWD Qashqai will cost, drivers are getting plenty of car. Not only does it feature all the drivetrain and driving technologies listed above, it also comes with large 19” alloy wheels, adding a bit more height while cruising. Speaking of which, included is Nissan’s Cruise Control, along with Safety Shield, a built-in technology that combines all of Nissan’s traction and braking controls into one seamless system. If you’re an urbanite looking to move on from a hot hatch to something a little more all-conquering, then the Qashqai is a top choice.
If your taste in cars has a distinct European flavour to it, than a SUV worth considering may just be Mercedes-Benz’s new GLA. Sitting slightly lower than one’s traditional SUV, the GLA is seen as being far more dynamic, according to the Stuttgart-based manufacturer. Whether viewed from the side or front on, the sweeping muscular contours of the GLA are quite distinct, and in many respects looks like the bigger brother to Merc’s impressive hot hatch, the A45 AMG. Indeed, those looking to make the step up from the robot racers to something a bit more versatile and pragmatic, would be hard pressed to find a more intriguing SUV than the GLA.
A different breed
The entry-level model GLA 200 is priced at a cool R420 000, so opting for this luxury SUV does come at a cost, with the top of the line GLA 45 AMG commanding a sizeable R755 000. If that proves a little too rich for your blood, then the slightly less expensive GLA 250 4Matic may be right up your alley at R588 000. It certainly piqued our interest as the savviest in the GLA class, from a price and performance perspective at least.
Fitted with a four cylinder engine, the GLA 250 4Matic boasts an impressive 0-100 km/h time of 7.1 seconds, made all the more so given the fact that it weighs almost 1.5 tons. This is part in thanks to its engine generating 155 kW of power as well as 350 Nm of torque. Not just quick off the mark, the GLA 250 can hit a top speed of 230 km/h, which makes it perfectly suited for those who don’t mind speeding tickets on the way to the coast. All of this is placed behind a very distinctive front grille, featuring the same contours and headlight cluster we’ve seen in many of Merc’s coupés of late.
The local SUV market is saturated at best, with plenty of manufacturers vying for the perch that Land Rover’s Evoque seems to control. If you’re wanting an SUV with a striking silhouette, coupé styling and people carrier sensibilities, then Mercedes-Benz’ GLA class is well worth a gander. Featuring more than enough power, and a solid array of equipment and accessories, the GLA 250 4Matic is certainly our standout choice.