The Nissan Qashqai, a compact crossover SUV, has been rated as Britain’s safest car after scoring the highest in Euro NCAP crash tests. The vehicle earned a record-breaking total of 37 points, nearly 100 percent, in the latest round of Euro NCAP crash test assessments.
The Qashqai garnered five-star scores in the front, side and pole impact assessments. It also got four stars for child occupant protection and two in the pedestrian test.
The crossover SUV, the first to be styled by the Nissan Design Europe in London, England, UK, with engineering development led by the Nissan Technical Centre Europe in Cranfield, Bedfordshire, was released in Europe and Japan early this year. It will be exported to the Middle East and additional overseas markets.
The top half of Qashqai features the striking Nissan headlight, a sleek dynamic shape with a prominent shoulder line which rises at the rear and that is a design cue identical to that of the Murano. The lower portion of the vehicle resembles a SUV due to gigantic, pronounced wheel arches and a faintly elevated ground clearance. The vehicle is also given four engine choices. Gasoline engines will be a 115 horsepower 1.6 L and a 140 horsepower 2.0 L. Diesel engines include the 106 horsepower 1.5 L and 150 horsepower 2.0 L.
To bolster Qashqai’s appeal, Nissan is to add a long-wheelbase seven-seat version. “We are looking at a few things with the Qashqai, but the long-wheelbase car is the most likely to make production,” said Nissan’s spokesperson. The larger model will be designed to rival the compact MPV class, tempting purchasers out of bigger seven-seat competitors.
The vehicle will be sharing the P32L automobile platform with upcoming Nissan crossover SUVs. The Qashqai, launched at the 2006 Paris Motor Show, is built at Nissan’s NMUK Sunderland plant. “It’s arguably the most exciting family car that’s been designed, engineered and built in the UK in recent years,” added the spokesperson.
Nissan intends to roll out 500 Qashqais off its Wearside production line every day and has big ambitions to sell 15,000 examples in the UK next year. The spokesman added that additional cars will be exported to countries as far away as Japan. The third largest Japanese automaker also aims to sell more than 100,000 Qashqai units a year from February 2007.
Nissan said that the car, named after the nomadic Qashqai tribe, will cater for those car buyers who want a more dynamic design but are not attracted to the large, aggressive nature of a sport utility vehicle. The car slots below the X-Trail in the automaker’s range. It partially replaces the conventional Almera and Primera. In terms of size, its 4310 mm length and 1610 mm makes it fall between compact MPVs, such as the SEAT Altea and Renault Scénic, and compact SUVs like the Hyundai Tucson, Kia Sportage and the Mitsubishi Outlander.
But the Qashqai is not the only model that the Japanese automaker is preparing to launch. Auto Express said that the previous-generation flat-bed Navara is going to be re-introduced next year as some customers do not think the current machine looks rugged enough. However, with the more luxurious Pathfinder-style Navara now using the familiar badge, the resurrected Nissan will need a new name. This prediction has yet to be decided, but could be as straightforward as pickup.
“Designing a crossover vehicle presents a real challenge for chassis engineers. A high centre of gravity has a negative effect on handling. Despite this, the Qashqai is surprisingly adept in corners,” said an auto critic. “Combine this with the slick six-speed gearbox and light but well placed pedals, and the Qashqai is a very user-friendly machine.”