Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Motoring: Will Qashqai Be Nissan's Cash Cow?

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Motoring: Will Qashqai Be Nissan's Cash Cow?

Article excerpt

Byline: By Steve Hughes

NISSAN reckons that the traditional design of cars is changing, and while once there were compact and family models, now there is the Qashqai. This is the crossover vehicle that will replace both its Almera and Primera models and will do battle with new rivals such as the Toyota Auris, the Citroen C4 Picasso and the latest incarnation of Honda's CR-V.

Nissan hopes that the Qashqai - built in Britain at Nissan's Sunderland factory - will have a broader appeal than a simple, compact family model or lifestyle 4x4-cum-MPV by being a combination of all three.

This is pretty ambitious, especially as it is strictly a four-seater, which immediately rules out the MPV claim.

It is hardly a confident 4x4, so Honda need not be too worried, and it is bulkier than the sort of compacts that many drivers feel happiest manoeuvring through traffic, so the Auris may rest easy too.

It is, therefore, the ultimate compromise by attempting to be all things to all buyers and ultimately failing to be outstanding in any particular discipline.

Ironically, this is probably its greatest strength, because in reality most vehicle-users would prefer a competent all-rounder than one that excels in some ways but is seriously lacking in others.

Although the Qashqai offers its users a degree of the perceived invincibility that comes with sitting relatively high up in a vehicle that appears to be an SUV, its actual footprint on the road is smaller than you might imagine.

It looks chunky enough, but is not ungainly to drive and is just as easy to manoeuvre and park as a Ford Focus.

On motorways it sails along as effortlessly as any hatchback or saloon, and when cornering it is more akin to a conventional car than a 4x4. It can be operated in either two or four wheel drive mode and comes with engines a small as 1.6 litres in petrol guise and 1.5-litres in diesel form.

There are also two-litre petrol and diesel units plus the option of six speed manual and CVT transmission.

The best seller is likely to be the entry-level 1.6- litre petrol model at pounds 13,500, followed by the twolitre diesel manual costing from pounds 16,200 and then the two-litre petrol manual version at pounds 14,900.

The 1.5dCi at pounds 14,600 is expected to attract about 15% of Qashqai buyers, and bringing up the rear with just five per cent of sales will be the most expensive 2.0dCi automatic at pounds 23,250.

Taking its name from a desert-dwelling nomadic tribe living near the Zagros Mountains in south western Iran, Qashqai's arrival marks the introduction of a new badge system, which will be rolled out across the entire Nissan car range.

Visia is the entry-level model, with Tekna at the top and Acenta in the middle.

All versions are well equipped with plenty of air bags, and depending on how much you want to pay, there is leather upholstery, satellite navigation and a panoramic sunroof in addition to the more mundane features such as remote central locking, keyless entry and electric windows that we now take for granted. …

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