Aside from the obvious pleasures of driving, chatting and admiring the scenery, Qashqai n-tec entertainment comes via two basic sources: FM/AM radio or sounds provided by your good self. Other media such as DAB radio, DVD audio or video, TV or indeed an on-board HDD are not on the menu.
The radio is simple in form and function and features little that can’t be found in most basic, contemporary cars, other than that the controls are partly mechanical and partly by touch-screen, depending on what it is you wish to achieve. As you would expect, there’s manual or auto tuning, station presets, a list of up to 12 stored or receivable FM stations plus TA traffic reports.
Sounds provided by your good self can come from either a CD (the player is MP3/WMA compatible), or an MP3 player/iPod connected via Bluetooth, a USB port or 3.5mm mini-jack socket, both of which are located to the rear of the front centre armrest storage bin. A USB memory stick is another handy sound source option. Nissan Connect can support a CD with up to 50 folders with 512 files, or a USB device (other than an iPod) with 5,000 folders and 15,000 files provided they don’t exceed 100GB.
Regarding iPods and iPhones; Nissan states that while some are fully compatible in terms of music playback via with Apple’s familiar Playlists/Artists/Songs format, not all are. Those that aren’t fully compatible include early Classics (pre ’05), Minis, Shuffles and iPhones. Those that are include post ’05 Classics, nanos and touches, although some functions “can’t be guaranteed” on the touch.
iPhone compatibility is fine if, as a passenger, you’re controlling the iPhone’s music via its own touch-screen. But for the driver controlling through the Connect system’s touch-screen it’s annoyingly frustrating as, once you reached a given song list, it’s then not possible to take even one step backward, or to select any other list, without disconnecting and starting all over again.
Nissan Connect does support A2DP Bluetooth audio streaming, provided of course that you have a compatible player/phone. The recent iPhone OS 3.0 firmware upgrade supports it, but at the time of the test I was on the last of the OS 2s and so was unable to test that facility. (Be aware that if you do stream audio and pair-up the phone via Bluetooth then your phone battery won’t last the length of the Humber Bridge. Best solution; music from a capacious USB stick and telephony via Bluetooth with car charger to hand.)
The Qashqai’s amp pumps out 20w RMS through a selection of speakers, so ultimately it’s kinda loud enough for most. The sound is well distributed through the interior and it has a reasonable tone (with limited adjustability), but it lacks real depth and richness. Serious hi-fi buffs will probably look and then listen elsewhere.