I’ve recently bought a roof rack for my Nissan Qashqai (2007-2008-2009 year model). As there is very little information available on this product and roof rails, bars and cars can be a somewhat tricky issue, I’ve thought about sharing my experience.
I bought my roof rack over the Internet so when I decided to buy it I had not seen nor touched it physically. I only had a few pictures posted by the online seller. As commercial pictures can sometimes be a bit misleading, above and below you’ll see how they actually look like when installed on a real life Qashqai.
After thinking about it for a couple of weeks or so, one day I purchased the rack and a few days later it was delivered at my home. The kit is delivered in a cardboard box for minimal protection and it is certainly not the thick packaging I fancied.
Anyway, the kit includes a pair of roof rails which go from front to back one for each side, along with a pair of roof bars which neatly fit into slots running along the inside side of the roof rails allowing the bars to be moved to the desired position. All necessary fittings are also included, contained in plastic bags bundled with the usual soft material to reduce potential transport damage. A very simple instructions paper was also included – all the necessary, but no extras.
Even if the packaging was something poor, when I opened the box I noticed that both the rails and the cross bars felt solid and well-built. It’s obviously a made in China product (what isn’t today?), but it is a well-designed and well manufactured product with quality anodised aluminium in a black shine finish:
When you slide in the cross bars, you end up having the whole rack, which looks solid:
Only the end caps, both front and rear, which are made of plastic, look less solid. Aye, it’s injection moulded from impact resistant ABS plastic, but plastic after all:
When you put the rack over your car’s roof, you get a better idea of how it will look on your car and how all parts fit with each other:
The manufacturer says the roof rack is designed for a quick and easy DIY, but I prefered to take it to the service as I have never performed hard modifications in a car. In order to fit the side rails to the roof channel some drilling is involved and, as a novice, that scared me a bit.
The truth is that if you read through the instructions, there is actually no difficult step, but some steps do require tools which are not found in every household. For instance, the rubber strip needs to be removed and 5 small holes drilled along the channel (each side), fit the roof rails and then refit the rubber channel (after cutting it into 3 pieces).
Also, the instructions say that the installation can be completed within 2 hours, but my service said it took them 3 hours to complete – and billed me accordingly.
Aesthetics when mounted
I regard most cross bars as orthopedic and non-aesthetical, so I did not want something that could look like an awkward accessory mounted to the roof. I wanted something stylish, and I must say that this roof rack is not only practical to carry things but is also very nice to the eye. Both the rails and the bars look nice, elegant and aerodynamic.
What’s more, as they are individually tailored to fit this vehicle, if you look carefully you’ll notice that the roof rails follow the car’s lines and curves. Remember that they fit on all 2007/2008/2009 Nissan Qashqai models including the Panoramic roof model.
Except for the rubber platforms under the end caps of the side rails, the rack looks like original manufactured (OEM):
And some details:
Fuel consumption and noise
One of the main concerns about roof rails are noise and fuel consumption. Roof racks usually make some noise, whether soft or loud, and they typically raise fuel consumption as well.
As for this kit, I can tell you that this rack does some noise, which is not loud whatsoever, but certainly audible if you pay attention. Rather than a noise, I would better call it an aerodynamic sound. Indeed, it sounds like a plane wing cutting through the wind, and in fact the first day I drove my car with the rack mounted the sound reminded me almost immediately of an aircraft – the aerodynamic sound of a wing while flying. It is not loud, and if you play music loud it will almost fade away but still if you really want to hear it you’ll be able to.
It’s hard to describe a sound, but if you drive with the radio switched off, you’ll hear the sound as an aerodynamic sound of something cutting the wind coming from the roof. It is almost inaudible up to 50 kph, and it gets more audible as you accelerate, but in no way and at no speed it is too loud – and never disturbing. In fact, strangely enough I do like it – it makes you feel like you’re driving faster than you really are.
Concerning fuel consuption, I must confess that I had taken for granted that the bars would increase fuel consumption and I’m surprised to say that I haven’t noticed it yet. It’s pretty weird because I have not recorded even a 5% increase (and I do pay much attention to fuel consumption and efficient driving), but I will allow myself a few weeks more to confirm this early perception. **UPDATED – After two months, I can say that there is no noticeable increase in fuel consumption**
This roof rack is not cosmetic – it is a heavy duty rack for actual load bearing. By load bearing I mean that these cross bars are designed to carry light loads as per Nissan’s original fitment. The instructions or the product documentation say nothing about load weight data and online sellers won’t know either for sure (I did ask them) so by ‘light’ think about something around 50 kg. I would not put more weight on them even if they could bear more.
If we assume the 50 kg maximum to be true, it means that you can load many things on them, like a typical Thule cargo box (about 15 kg by itself, depending on the model) and about 35 kg internal load. It also means that you can put at least at least a couple of bikes on the bars.
Size and measures
The size of the roof rack is important. Not because of the looks, but because it is something that affects compatibility with cargo systems like roof boxes, roof mounted bike/ski carriers and roof baskets. The dimensions are as follows:
– Side rails dimensions: Length 990 mm (39 inches), width 44.5 mm (1 ¾ inch), height 25.4 mm (1 inch). Overall length is 1498 mm (59 inches).
– Cross bar dimensions: Length 914 mm (36 inches), width 76 mm (3 inches), height 19.5 mm (¾ inch).
If you have a look at a Thule cargo box, for instance you’ll notice that it requires the dimensions of the bars to be between one minimum and one maximum, so that the box’s claws can be fitted to the bars safely. For instance, the Thule Dynamic 800 model needs the cross bars to have a maximum width of 80 mm and to have a height between 18 mm and 30 mm.
The cross bars of this roof rack are 76 mm wide and 19.5 mm tall, so they are compatible with the Thule Dynamic 800 specifications, but before buying either the roof rack of the cargo box (or any other carrier) make sure thay they are mutually compatible.
A great feature of this roof rack for the Nissan Qashqai is that the crossbars are removable. That means that you have the option to remove them and leave only the side rails mounted on your roof (just like the Qashqais which have side rails).
So you can perfectly drive your Qashqai only with these rails just because you think is more stylish and only slide in the cross bars when there is actually something to bear. The side rails do not need the cross bars to stand – they can stand alone and look fine by themselves.
The cross bars are manually bolted to the side rails’ slide, so you can unbolt them and slide them out but you need do it by the rear, as the way through the front side is blocked. To do this you only need to remove the rear end caps, slide the cross bars off and then put the rear end caps back on place.
Please bear in mind these end caps have not been designed to be removed and put back regularly (they have been designed to stay), so they are not easily removed, and since they are made of plastic you should do it with care. But it is entirely possible.
Have a look at how the cross bars are manually bolted to the side rails:
So far I am extremely happy with this set of roof bars and rails for my Qashqai. My opinion is that it greatly improves the overall appearance of my car with a item that looks original Nissan manufactured but at a fraction of the cost. And it gives the car an ‘offroad/adventure’ touch which I like.
Please notice that my car is black and the overall result would be be different on cars of different colors. Also remember that there is a silver (with black end caps) rack equivalent with exactly the same sizes and features as the black one.