Nissan has revealed the new Qashqai, the second generation of the car that is credited with creating the crossover typology when it first launched in 2007. And with more than two million sold, it’s also one of the most popular. Many competitors have hit the market since, and while the car received a mild facelift in 2010, this is the model’s first complete redesign.
Designed at Nissan’s European Design studio in London, UK, by Pforzheim graduate Patrick Reimer — now chief designer at Porsche — the new car is a more athletic proposition than its predecessor, with slimmer headlamps integrated into its wider grille, feature lines that stretch the profile and a lower light catcher that serves well to detract from its visual height. The kickup at the rear of the DLO also rises more sharply into the D-pillar than before, accentuating the powerful rear haunches beneath.
On first glace the front overhang appears to be too long — stretching far over the front wheels to adhere to ever-stringent safety requirements — and the rear end is adorned with taillamps that call to mind the Ford Focus, a product that was likely benchmarked in the design process.
The new Qashqai is also more aerodynamically efficient than before. Its surfacing and details such as the winglet-adorned roof spoiler and flat floor design combine to create a drag co-efficient of 0.32. Diesel models with manual transmissions will also feature an ‘active grille shutter’ system to maximize aero efficiency at speeds over 19mph.
Despite the reduction in height, front and rear headroom levels have actually increased by 10mm and H-point has not been changed, allowing drivers to benefit from the raised driving position of its predecessor. Ingress and egress has been improved thanks to redesigned door apertures, leg room has been improved, and the increase in width has allowed for greater shoulder room.
With a high level of attention paid to details, the Qashqai’s interior promises to be a more inviting, comfortable and versatile space than those of its segment rivals. From a new ambient cabin lighting system with an orange mood light around the gear lever, to a channel in the center console that enables the lid to be shut while a device still plugged into the USB port inside, there are a number of small elements that elevate perceived quality. The use of an electronic parking brake also frees up cabin space.
Designers not only paid specific attention to materials and quality in the new Qashqai, but also developed new seats that incorporate medical scanning techniques. Engineers were inspired by NASA to analyze pressure and blood flow in the lower back of seated passengers to create a seat that offered even support.
The new Qashqai’s ergonomic qualities have also been optimized, thanks to an intuitive single interface that drivers can tailor to their individual needs. This includes a new meter display located between the analogue speedometer and tachometer, which can be controlled via steering wheel mounted switches.
Those in the market for a crossover typically require lots of versatility. As such the Qashqai not only has more interior space and 20-liter larger luggage capacity enhanced by a variable dual-floor system, but also features a space to store the parcel shelf when not in use. The luggage boards also feature a wipe-clean surface on one side and soft carpet on the other, so muddy boots can be transported without fear of damaging the textile surfaces.
Nissan has thrown a lot of new technology into the second generation car as well. There’s a new NissanConnect with smartphone app integration system, LED daytime running lamps that produce a unique lighting signature — there’s an option for full LED lighting as well — and a host of arriver assistance features as part of the company’s ‘safety shield’ packages. These include a front radar concealed behind the bumper fascia for collision avoidance, traffic sign recognition and moving object detection; a lane departure and driver attention warning system; blind spot warning; intelligent parking assist and an around view monitor.
This suite of innovations not only significantly enhances safety and convenience but points towards the company’s commitment to produce commercially viable autonomous vehicles by 2020.
Power and Dimensions
Based on the new CMF (Common Module Family) platform jointly developed through its alliance with Renault, the new Qashqai is powered by a turbocharged 1.2-liter four-cylinder engine. Buyers can also specify a 1.6-liter turbocharged and a 1.6-liter diesel engine.
The new car is 49mm longer, 15mm lower and 20mm wider than the model it replaces, measuring in at 4364mm, 1590mm and 1805mm respectively. Its wheelbase has also been stretched by 16mm to 2646mm. Nissan has opted not to include a seven-passenger version, leaving the larger X-Trail set to debut next year to fill the requirement of those with larger families.
The Nissan Qashqai has been a long established as the leader in the crossover market. It appeals to both C-segment drivers looking for additional style, technology and excitement as well as downsizing buyers seeking greater efficiency. The company is now in a unique position to set new practicality benchmarks for the next generation of crossover, and it’s set the bar high.
The new car goes on sale in selected markets from January 2014.
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