► Updated Qashqai aims upmarket
► New 'V-motion' grille design
► Goes on sale in the UK summer 2017
Qashqai or should that be Qashcow? Last year this urban crossover was Nissan’s best selling model in the UK by nearly 2:1, outselling it nearest UK rival by almost 20,000 units as well as being Europe’s number one cross-over.
A decade after the original was launched Nissan is determined this facelifted version – revealed at the 2017 Geneva motor show – will be available in summer 2017 and maintain that pre-eminent position by upping the ante when it comes to ‘premiumness’ (Nissan's words not ours) until an all-new successor is launched ‘soon’.
Like an Audi, then?
In a manner of speaking, yes. The German big three have invaded the heartland of brands like Nissan, driving premium down into sectors that were once alien to traditional upmarket products.
As a riposte the new Qashqai now features distinctive new exterior colours and aerodynamic 19-inch wheels and a completely revised ‘V-motion’ grille with updated boomerang daytime driving lights mirrored at the rear.
Unseen to the eye are under-body ‘vortex generators’ that whisk air currents from the front to the rear of the car, aiding stability whilst reducing interior wind and road noise without affecting its class-leading 0.31Cd or 99g/km CO2 for the 1.5-litre dCi 110 diesel.
Derived from aerospace principles, the golf ball-like surface of these vortex generators not only aids aerodynamics but, also help to reduce wind and road noise entering the cabin to give a quieter ambience for the occupants. Revised rear light profiles also assist in improving the car’s Cd figure and contribute to maintaining the all-important 99 g/kms CO2 for the 1.6 diesel.
That, together with 0.35mm thicker rear glass, better door seals and improvements to the engine management, especially on the diesels to minimise start-up rattle, as well as more sound proofing throughout makes the cabin more cosseting and a better place to travel in.
And the interior?
That has come in for a big upgrade, we’re told. ‘Premiumness’ is all about shut lines, materials and tactility.
One-third of all Qashqai buyers opted for the top grade interiors, so Nissan has gone a step further and introduced a range-topping Tekna+ range that includes Nappa leather trimmed seating with 3D quilting on the centre panels to take on the Audi Q3’s of this world.
Nissan is targeting Tekna+ at those customers who aspire to the Range Rover Evoque or the aforementioned Q3 but at a more accessible price and value for money proposition, even down to the addition of a ‘shark fin’ antennae for improved looks and infotainment connectivity.
Music lovers will also revel in the new BOSE seven-speaker sound system that’s on offer, controlled from a more intuitive command screen.
It is all about the democratisation of technology as sophisticated electronics percolate down model ranges as production increases and costs reduce.
Intelligent Emergency Braking is upgraded with Pedestrian Recognition together with rear cross traffic alert for the first time on the Qashqai, in addition to the already established traffic sign recognition, driver attention alert, intelligent park assist, intelligent around view monitor, blind sport warning and lane departure warning whilst a new auto hill hold feature has been added.
Packaged together as ‘Pro Pilot’ expect these safety enhancing systems to percolate across the Nissan range in years to come.
Beneath the skin
The engines and transmissions remain unchanged but there is new spring and damper tuning and a new active rate control with a stiffer rear anti roll bar for a less roly-poly ride down country lanes.
Steering feel, or ‘traceability’, has also been improved so there’s a more relaxed motorway driving experience without sacrificing drive involvement on more demanding roads; drivers can now opt between ‘normal’ and ‘sport’ settings.