Admittedly crossover vehicles like the Qashqai would not be usual EngageSportMode content. But, we feel somewhat of an attachment to it, being based just a few miles down the road from Nissan Motor Manufacturing UK in Sunderland. It’s also impossible to ignore the impact the first-generation model has had, with more than 2 million examples being sold since 2007. So, just what does the all new Qashqai have in store?
Longer, wider and more upmarket probably sums up the new generation in a clamshell – just like the one its bonnet shape is based on. Compared to the Juke, the new Qashqai does appear a little restrained; we’re not seeing dramatic styling and crazy detailing here. However, this is a relatively conservative mass-market segment, so you can’t fault Nissan for playing it safe. That’s not to say the new QQ isn’t handsome; the racey grille gives some aggression to the front end, whilst rakish lines and pronounced wheelarches certainly give it presence. There’s almost something Infiniti-esque about the rear end with its narrower taillights and distinctive spoiler. Conventional? Yes. Attractive? Certainly.
As ever, improved efficiency and economy and the lynchpin of any new model. The second-generation Qashqai doesn’t disappoint, with weight savings of up to 40 kgs on certain models despite added kit and size. Active aerodynamics also feature on diesel manual models, closing the front grille at speeds over 30 kph unless the engine needs cooling. A flat floor design also contributes to the 0.32 drag co-efficient, improving over the first generation model, and bringing reduced C02 emissions and more mpg.
All engine options, whether petrol or diesel, now come with a turbocharger attached. The petroleum choice at launch is limited to the 113 bhp 1.2 litre DIG-T four-cylinder, which achieves a respectable 50.4 mpg and 129 g/km of CO2 thanks to its Stop/Start technology and optimised ratios in its six-speed gearbox. Next autumn a 1.6 litre DIG-T unit with 147 bhp will also join the lineup which, curiously, also achieves 50.4 mpg not the combined cycle. CO2 emissions are slightly higher at 132 g/km though.
Diesels consist of the 1.5 litre dCI with 108 bhp, and a 1.6 litre dCI with 128 bhp. The smaller 1.5 dCI unit produces just 99 g/km of CO2 alongside an official fuel consumption of 74.3 mpg. At 115 g/km of CO2 emissions and a combined fuel consumption figure of 64.2mpg, the two-wheel drive 1.6 dCI chucks out slightly more emissions, but still improves over the first generation. Six-speed manual gearboxes come standard on both diesels, with a CVT-based Xtronic automatic optional for the 1.6 unit.
A four-wheel drive version, catchily named the ALL-MODE 4×4-i, of the 1.6 dCI will also be available, featuring multilink rear suspension over the front wheel drive’s twist-beam setup. ESM would expect the majority of buyers to favour the two-wheel drive model, given just how limited off-road usage a crossover vehicle like the Qashqai is ever likely to be exposed to. This is, after all, an alternative to a C-segment hatchback rather than a true Land Rover Defender rival.
New technology packed into the revised Qashqai includes a veritable raft of driver assistance programmes as part of the Nissan Safety Shield Package. Front Collision Avoidance uses radar to scan for hazards ahead, and automatically brakes or stops the car, should a collision be imminent. Driver Attention Support monitors for signs for fatigue behind the wheel, whilst Traffic Sign Recognition makes sure there’s no way of claiming you didn’t know the speed limit, officer. Lane Departure Warning, Blind Spot Warning remind you to stay in your lane, to indicate to leave it and warns of vehicles in your blind spot too.
Whilst such safety tech is commendable in its own right, Nissan’s eye is on the bigger picture of creating commercially viable autonomous vehicles by 2020. Intelligent Parking Assist, which lets the Qashqai slot into parallel parking spaces only 80 cm longer that the actual car, by itself, demonstrates the automation already available. Be in no doubt that Nissan wants a future where you sit back and relax, whilst the car does the work for you. Be glad that, for now at least, the electric power steering still features a Sport Mode option.
Pleasingly for ESM, there are design details on the Qashqai ‘borrowed’ from the GT-R supercar, such as Vehicle Dynamic Control, which applies braking to mimic a Limited Slip Differential and reduce understeer. Active Ride Control monitors the car for undulations, and applies additional braking to keep the body as flat as possible for a smoother ride.
The interior has been treated to a more upmarket finish, with a ‘dramatic rise’ in the finish of the materials used. Boot space has increased by 20 litres, as has head, shoulder and leg room for passengers. That boot also features a dual-floor system that features up to 16 possible configurations – tell us that isn’t the most exciting thing you’ve read all day…
Joking aside, EngageSportMode sees no reason why the second generation Qashqai should not carry on the success of its predecessor. It’s handsome, more refined, more economical and packed to the rafters which technology and safety kit. Whilst pricing and final specifications will be launched closer to the February 2014 launch date, it seems unlikely Nissan will price itself out of the market. We expect to see many new examples on the road in 12 months time; good news for ESM’s Mate Dave and all the other 6,000 who work at the Sunderland plant.