Lenses covering every angle lower the risk of dings.
The car industry creates new driver-assistance, comfort and convenience technologies at a sometimes bewildering pace. The problem is the high cost of early adoption: the really cool new stuff tends to be restricted to cars in the premium segment to start with. Which is understandable, but frustrating.
Consider the 360-degree parking cameras used by Audi, BMW and Mercedes: a great feature and handy to have on your luxury car, but wouldn't they be more useful on a family vehicle that has to squeeze into tight spots every day?
In that sense, consider the new Nissan Qashqai Ti-L as striking a specification blow for Everyman. Following the X-Trail Ti/TL models launched last year, the Qashqai Ti-L has gained Nissan's Around View camera system, which employs four lenses (front, rear, mirrors) to provide a Google Earth-type view of what's around the vehicle on the AVM (that's Around View Monitor to you and I).
You can even have individual views of each side of the car. It's a nifty system that is particularly useful for anally retentive types in parking lots, since the bird's-eye view helps to get the car exactly in the middle of the white lines marking out the space. Not me, mind; I don't care about that kind of thing at all.
There are really only two downsides. One's the rather small, low-set, AVM screen, which also serves as the display for the satellite navigation (another unique Ti-L feature), audio information and Bluetooth cellphone connectivity.
The other is the hazy picture when the cameras are covered in early morning moisture; that's no different to any other parking camera set-up, but the effect is more frustrating when you have four cameras with visual impediments.
At $45,200, the Ti-L offers a worthwhile package of extras over the Ti: your extra $4400 buys you the trick cameras and head unit with touch-screen sat-nav, and leather upholstery with heated front seats.
The Qashqai is one of the oldest cars in the growing compact-crossover segment - an all-new model is coming next year - but it's still good-looking and well-finished. The 102kW/198Nm 2-litre petrol engine and Xtronic Continuously Variable Transmission (CVT) combination work well once you get the hang of gearless driving - which you must these days, as CVTs are now used in so many crossover vehicles, including the entry Toyota RAV4 and Subaru Forester.
Nissan NZ still insists on calling Qashqai a hatch rather than crossover or SUV, as it's the only vehicle in the segment that's not offered with four-wheel drive. That's just semantics, as most other makers also offer two-wheel drive versions of their compact-crossover wagons.
The bottom line Qashqai is one of the most familiar cars in a rapidly regenerating segment, but the new Ti-L model with Around View camera technology gives it a unique selling proposition.