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Nissan sticks to its Qashqai formula


THE FIRST-GENERATION Qashqai will forever be remembered as a segment creator - a car we didn’t know we needed until it first appeared on our roads. It offered the masses a chunky off-road option in a price slot traditionally dominated by dreary hatchbacks.

The result was a sales success. Here in South Africa it sold very well, but in Europe they went absolutely crazy for it and over 2 million have been sold worldwide. That’s a staggering figure for a car that’s only now going into its second generation.

We have complete faith in the new Qashqai’s ability to do the same. Looking at the overall design and technical specifications, it appears as if Nissan has stuck to the same formula that made the first Qashqai such a huge success. It has been tweaked a little thanks to customer demands and environmental legislation though.

The one thing we don’t understand is the loss of the Qashqai’s unique character.  The current model has its own distinctive design, while the new car looks like the new X-Trail shrunken by around 20%.

Still, it is very good-looking and a lot more elegant than the model it replaces, so we won’t moan too loudly about it. It still offers an exciting alternative in a segment brimming with traditional fare.

The new Qashqai is bigger all-round and is packed with a host of new features, drivetrains and gearbox options. Every powertrain in the range uses turbocharging to reduce the engine capacity and therefore reducing emissions and fuel consumption. Combine this with a strict weight-loss programme (around 40kg) and you have a car that Nissan claims is class-leading with respect to efficiency.

The new Qashqai will be available in both front-wheel- and four-wheel-drive with a choice of a six-speed manual or an all-new X-tronic CVT transmission.

It’s also much smarter than the model it replaces. The technology highlights include front collision avoidance, driver-attention support, traffic-sign recognition, lane-departure warning, blind-spot warning, moving-object detection, park assist, full LED headlamps and an around-view monitor. Most of the above has never featured in a car at this price point. The Qashqai is the first Nissan to go on sale with the new NissanConnect system. It features a seven-inch touch-screen interface and will give owners complete control of the infotainment system. In the future, owners will have access to a wide range of apps covering music, social networking, entertainment and travel. Think of it as an iPad with wheels.

Two petrol and two diesel powertrains will be available. The 1.2-litre DIG-T petrol generates 85kW and 190Nm of torque, which is fed to the wheels via a six-speed manual gearbox. Its bigger brother, the 1.6-litre DIG-T pushes out 110kW and 240Nm of torque. Both models are claimed to consume less than 6.0 litres/100km.

On the diesel front, you can choose between a 1.5-litre dCi with 81kW or a 1.6 dCi with 96kW on tap and a highly impressive Co2 emissions figure of 99g/km for the former. Its fuel-consumption figure is even more impressive, with Nissan claiming less than 4.0 litres/100km.

Precise specifications and trim levels will be released nearer to the new Qashqai’s on-sale date of January 2014.

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