What's this, a Qashqai limo?
In essence, yes. Keen to expand the sales appeal of its Sunderland-built Qashqai, Nissan is hurrying a seven-seater version of its off-roader cum hatchback to market. Sitting on an extended wheelbase and offering two third-row rear seats, the long-wheel base Qashqai will be primed to take on the Mitsubishi Outlander and its Citroen C-Crosser and Peugeot 4007 spin-offs.
Where's the space for the seats come from?
Up to the B-pillar it's standard Qashqai. Beyond that, Nissan's Cranfield engineers have inserted an additional 200mm into the chassis, raising and extending the roofline to make way for the third row of seats. The two slimmed down occasional seats will fold down flat in to the floor of the loadbay when not use, and will be equipped with individual three-point harnesses. And don't expect much luggage space with a full complement of passengers either - with the sixth and seventh seat erected, the boot will be good for a few soft bags and no more.
What else changes?
Seven seats aside, the extended Qashqai will be little changed from the standard five-seat version. That means a comprehensive line-up of 115bhp 1.6 and 140bhp 2.0-litre petrol and 105bhp 1.5 and 150bhp 2.0-litre turbo diesel units, with the choice of front or four-wheel drive. No word on pricing yet, but expect to pay a £1500 premium over the standard model - for a £15,000 kick-off price. And given the production-ready look of this test car, expect it to arrive early next year. Step back and the hand of Carlos Ghosn can be seen, with Nissan borrowing a page out of Renault's model strategy -like the Scenic and Grand Scenic at sister company Renault, the Qashqai would offer five and seven-seater versions of the same car. Spinning two models off the same architecture at very cost - he's not called the cost-cutter king for nothing.