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Nissan Qashqai compact crossover
Hatchback? SUV? A blend of both (1)

Nissan Qashqai compact crossover: front view.

New Nissan Qashqai: on the road from early 2007.

15 September 2006.

Many car enthusiasts remember the Nissan Qashqai concept car presented at the 2004 Geneva Motor Show.

Now comes the time for the true one, the production Qashqai (pronounced "cash - kai") which will go on sale in Europe from the 7th of February 2007.

Presented by Carlos Ghosn, Renault and Nissan's President and CEO, as the new compact crossover for Europe, the Qashqai targets the growing crossover / SUV oriented C-segment (lower medium in Europe, compact in North America) market.

After the introduction in Japan of the Nissan Lafesta, Qashqai is the first European vehicle to be built on the Nissan/Renault Alliance ‘C’ Platform.

Nissan Qashqai compact crossover: side view.

Top of a dynamic passenger car, and  lower portion with SUV attributes.

The new compact crossover category widens an already rich offer in the lower medium size category (Toyota Corolla, VW Golf, Peugeot 307, Renault Megane, Ford Focus, Mazda3, Opel Astra...), with new body styles blending passenger car comfort with some SUV capabilities and four-wheel driving, to a certain extend.

In fact, the C-segment is becoming one of the most diversified passenger-car categories, with body options that usually include 3- and 5-door hatchback, 4-door salon/ sedan, coupe / convertible style and 5- and / or 7-passenger compact minivans (monospace, like Renault's Megane-based Scenic, the VW Touran, Toyota's Corolla Verso...).

So, you want to have fun in your lower-medium car, but not in the usual coupe / cabriolet style?

Nissan Qashqai compact crossover: rear view.

Qashqai: SUV-oriented design to break away from hatchbacks or sedans.

You prefer sports with nature?

That's what the Qashqai category is about: fun driving in cities as well as all-wheel-drive capabilities... without  Patrol ambitions of course.

In other words, Qashqai is more about dynamic SUV-oriented design to break away from the traditional C-segment hatchback or sedan, rather than a more typically styled compact SUV such as the Nissan X-Trail or the Toyota RAV-4.

Qashqai's European genes are British. The design was led by Nissan Design Europe (NDE) and it represents the first new production vehicle to be designed at NDE since its move to London in 2003. The development programme was led by Nissan Technical Centre Europe based in Cranfield, England, with significant input from Nissan's engineering base in Japan.

And last but not least in this lineage, Qashqai will be produced at Nissan's factory in Sunderland, in the North East of England. Full production is due to start towards the end of 2006.

Nissan Qashqai compact crossover: dashboard view.

Clear separation with a sporty feeling from the raised central console.

As well as European sales, Qashqai will also be exported to Japan (to be named there Dualis), the Middle East and other overseas markets.

As a crossover, Qashqai has to blend passenger car attributes with 4x4 looks and capabilities. That's why the top half of Qashqai is reminiscent of a dynamic passenger car, with a distinctive shoulder line which rises at the rear, like the Murano.

On the other hand, the lower portion of the car suggests SUV attributes with large, pronounced wheel arches, slightly elevated ground clearance and a purposeful stance.

Inside, the front and passenger environments have been designed to feel airy and relaxing, with a clear driver / passenger separation and a sporty feeling generated by the deeply recessed instruments, especially with the raised central console.

Carlos Ghosn, Renault and Nissan's President and CEO expects Qashqai to achieve for Nissan a conquest rate of 80%.

Ghosn expects Qashqai to achieve for Nissan a conquest rate of 80%.

In terms of size, Qashqai fits between C-segment hatchbacks and SUVs. It has a wheelbase of 2630mm, it is 1610mm tall, 1780mm wide and 4310mm long (see the preliminary Qashqai specifications). It is about 100mm longer than a typical hatchback but 150mm shorter than a typical SUV. Similarly, it is taller than rival hatchbacks by between 100-150mm yet up to 130mm lower than an SUV.

Comparatively, its two other new competitor compact crossovers, the Suzuki SX4 and Fiat Sedici come in a rather smaller body size (4.1-metre long, with a 2.50 metre wheelbase).

Ground clearance is 200mm and the vehicle has approach and departure angles of 19.2 deg and 30.2 deg… better than a hatchback but, of course, short of figures set by purpose designed 4x4s. That's not its core mission anyway.

Four engine options will be available: two diesel and two petrol.

The 1.6-litre petrol offers 115PS of power and 160Nm of torque (more details in the Qashqai specifications page or in the Qashqai in detail), while the 2.0-litre produces 140PS and 200Nm. The diesel engine options – 1.5- and 2.0-litre – provide 106 and 150PS and 240 and 320Nm of torque respectively.

According to engine choice, gearbox options include a five- and six-speed manual, a new six-speed automatic and a Continuously Variable Transmission (CVT) option with manual mode.

Drive is basically to the front wheel, but both 2.0-litre engine options can be specified with Nissan's All-Mode 4x4 system.

Speaking at the launch event last week in Paris, Mr Ghosn trusted the Qashqai to achieve a large conquest rate: "We expect Qashqai will sell more than 100,000 units a year on average across Europe – with 80% of those customers buying a Nissan for the first time. Before Qashqai, they drove a premium C-segment car (like the VW Golf-based Audi A3, the Mercedes-Benz B-Class or the BMW 1-Series), a compact 4x4 or a D-segment car (upper-medium category, midsize in North American classification)".


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