(Pocket-lint) - Nissan updated the Qashqai in 2017, making external design changes, introducing more premium features and boosting the technology that this car offers, with a lot of safety features.
But there was one big problem with it: the internal technology experience didn't really fit the narrative. In an age where smartphone connectivity is one of the top demands for car buyers, the Qashqai fell short.
Fortunately, that's all in the past.
Apple CarPlay and Android Auto in the Nissan Qashqai
Introducing the new NissanConnect, tech fans will be pleased to learn that Nissan will be offering Apple CarPlay and Android Auto on the Qashqai. It will be available on all trim levels as standard, except the entry-level Visia trim.
That means you'll get CarPlay and Android Auto on Acenta, N-Connecta, Tekna and Tekna+; in the UK, most buyers opt for N-Connecta. But remember that these trim levels are about a lot more than just tech - the N-Connecta moves up to 19-inch wheels and a Bose sound system, amongst other things.
Once you have Apple CarPlay or Android Auto in your Qashqai, all you have to do is connect your smartphone via cable and you can use those systems. Following recent updates, you'll now have the option of using Google Maps or Waze for navigation - even on the iPhone following the iOS 12 update.
You'll also have access to messaging support, media apps - like Spotify - and a whole lot more. As CarPlay and Android Auto become more sophisticated and integrated, these things will be reflected in your car too.
One thing to note is that the because these experiences are defined by Apple and Google, they have complete control over the UI - in the case of Apple CarPlay, you lose some useful space because Apple wants to have some UI elements taking up screen space.
NissanConnect offers a whole lot more
But the updated Nissan Qashqai isn't just about smartphone compatibility. The whole interface has been completely redesigned - and we mean completely. Although the fascia design in the car is the same, it's a new user interface, new display, new processor, and some button changes. It doesn't grow in the size, however, and a 7-inches, it's pretty small compared to many of the 10-inch systems out there.
There's also crossover into the driver display too, offering navigation direction and some other notifications between the dials.
There are actually two versions of NissanConnect. One version - on Acenta grade - just gives you the display without satnav - so it will handle calling, media and so on via the new interface, while also offering CarPlay or Android Auto as detailed above. Basically, via this route you don't have to pay more if you want to use smartphone navigation.
The second version - on N-Connecta, Tekna and Tekna+ - includes the satnav option too, so it contains a complete suite of in-car functions.
Nissan told us that the baseline experience for the new NissanConnect system was the Apple iPad. What that means is that Nissan wanted it to be lag-free when responding to touch, to give you the sort of premium experience that tech fans expect. As such you get snappy swipes, pinch zooming and the ability to change the viewing angle on mapping - just as you might do in Google Earth - with a two-finger swipe.
It's also a customisable interface, so you can change what you have on your car's home screen. It takes a little fiddling around, but it will mean that you can load the screens with widgets and shortcuts that you want using a drag-and-drop system.
Moving onto mapping itself, Nissan's satnav system has had a complete refresh. There's not only 3D mapping on landmarks, but there's POI searching, rather than having to use complete postal addresses. This can work offline (drawing on TomTom's downloaded POI database), but it can also search online too.
The connection would have to come from your smartphone, but allowing online searching can make this system a lot more dynamic.
We've mentioned TomTom and they have been a significant partner on the new mapping, supply real-time traffic data to the system; it also comes with 5-years of free map updates which are delivered over the air.
You also get voice controls, you can have messages read out to you and there's a companion smartphone app called Door to Door Navigation (Google Play and iTunes). This will let you plan your routes on your phone (using TomTom mapping) check traffic and push destinations to your car. It's going to be great for route planning.
Is the new NissanConnect any good?
The new version of NissanConnect is certainly an improvement over the previous system that was behind the times, so it's definitely a positive move for those considering a new Qashqai.
While Nissan's new system offers a lot, supporting CarPlay and Android Auto will appeal to the tech heads out there, offering the familiarity and ease of a smartphone-based system.
What we will say is that the native Nissan mapping is faster to respond than those on smartphones (from our experience). We suspect this is because of the input lag, taking that touch response from your screen to your phone and back causes a delay that Nissan's own mapping avoids.
That said, with Android Auto and CarPlay being so clean, we wouldn't be surprised if many Qashqai drivers opted for the smartphone-based system.
How do I get the new NissanConnect? Can I upgrade my car?
Sadly this isn't an upgrade option for those who already have a Nissan Qashqai - even if it was a model you bought in 2018. Because there's different hardware powering NissanConnect, this is a complete departure from the old system and you won't be able to upgrade to it.
If you're looking to buy a new Qashqai, however, you're in luck - but you'll have to make sure you're buying the new model with support for the new internal tech. Those new models should be available from November, so be sure to ask your dealer before parting with your cash.
What NissanConnect - and CarPlay and Android Auto - adds to the Qashqai is greater customer appeal. For those who are now using their phones all the time, it makes this SUV a whole lot more exciting.