I WONDER if they have an automotive crystal ball at Nissan? If so, they use it to help create what drivers want even before they know they want it. Consider the Qashqai, the car that invented a whole new motoring genre – the SUV crossover. When it appeared there had been nothing like it before … and the motoring public beat down the doors of the showrooms to get behind the wheel.
The immediate success was no doubt down to brilliant business brains (not my putative crystal ball) and Nissan certainly had a hit on their hands.The model reached the roads in 2007 and has sold more than two million, making it the company’s most successful vehicle. It was soon followed by a legion of imitators, and is now a few months into its second generation as an all-new motor. I’ve been keeping my eyes peeled and have already spotted a goodly number of new-gen Qashqais on the road. Flush Magazine got to run the rule over an Acenta Premium 1.2 DIG-T.
The new car is 47mm longer and fractionally lower and wider, giving a sleek, poised stance while maintaining the crossover style and raised driving position. Our car was front-wheel drive, the set-up which Nissan says will account for most sales, but all- wheel drive is available too. The popularity of front-driven wheels only is key to the SUV crossover. Generally, its drivers want the confidence-inspiring higher driving seat previously found only in four-wheel drives, as well as the capable image, but without the expense and weight of the extra drive-train – and the toll it takes on fuel consumption. More sculpted lines give the Qashqai’s exterior a crisp, up-to-the-minute look and there is a high-end feel to the cabin, where there is a dramatic rise in material and design quality, which adds significant interior appeal.
Versatility is also a valued crossover attribute and the new car delivers greater occupant space and a larger luggage capacity enhanced by a variable floor system … even offering space to store the parcel shelf when it is not in use.
There is kit aplenty. Here’s a sample: Colour reversing camera, front and rear parking sensors, electric folding, heated door mirrors,cruise control with speed limiter, panoramic glass roof with one-touch shade, ambient interior lighting, rear privacy glass, touch-screen satnav and entertainment system.
And there is an extensive list of advanced technology and safety features, known as Safety Shield, which brings premium brand safety standards to the mass market. It comprises up to seven gizmos for accident avoidance and protection: Driver Attention Alert, Traffic Sign Recognition, Forward Emergency Braking, Lane Departure Warning, Blind Spot Warning, Moving Object Detection and High Beam Assist.
The 1.2-litre petrol engine is a revelation – smooth, responsive and punching well above its weight power-wise, but I found the manual gearchange just a tad wanting in the slickness department. A pliant ride puts you in the comfort zone of this accomplished family vehicle that remains a leader in the SUV crossover stakes, a fact recognised as the car begins to gather prestigious motoring awards.
Make/Model: Nissan Qashqai Acenta Premium 1.2 DIG-T.
Technical: Four cylinder, 115bhp, 1197cc petrol engine with six speed manual gearbox;
Performance:0-62mph, 10.9 secs, top speed, 115mph;
Fuel: 50mpg (combined);
Emissions: 129 g/km.
Price: £21,720 OTR (inc £725 for metallic paint)