The Qashqai might have a Japanese name but it is built in Britain,
“right here – right now” as the TV advertisement says.
Sales prove it is the right car at the right price hence its huge global sales success and it’s built in Britain.
A new Nissan Qashqai rolls off the Sunderland production line every 59 seconds supplying 132 global markets. Keeping the line rolling are 58 UK parts suppliers as 1,126 of the 2,708 parts making up the Qashqai crossover are UK sourced.
This means that 9,324 people in the UK are involved in production of the Qashqai, 2,331 of which are Sunderland plant employees. The plant, which came on stream in 1986 making Nissan Bluebirds from Japanese produced KD kits, now produces a total of 550,000 new cars a year, four-fifths of which go for export. The models produced at Sunderland are the Qashqai and Juke crossovers, the Note, hatchback, and the Leaf electric car. An Infiniti branded model will also go into production there next year.
In the UK the Qashqai sells in big numbers both to retail, business, fleet and Motability customers. Last year it was the UK’s sixth best selling model range with over 50,000 registrations and this year it is in position seven in the top ten new car sales chart. The First generation Qashqai five door was launched in 2007 and Nissan claim it founded the ‘crossover’ segment of the new car market with its C-segment sized hatchback, cum MPV cum SUV versatile design. The Mark 2 replacement was introduced earlier this year with prices starting at £17,595 and currently topping out at £27,845.
The new generation is slightly larger, it offers more interior space, it’s better to drive with better specification, more driver aid functions and it uses a new range of more fuel and CO2 efficient engines. The less popular seven seater versions have been dropped from the line-up as the new five seater versions are roomier. The low selling 4WD models are limited to just one choice of engine – the 1.6-litre dCi 130hp turbodiesel with the choice of a manual gearbox of a new CVT automatic transmission. This engine like all others is offered with 2WD as standard.
The two other current engines in the line-up are the new 1.2 DIG-T 115hp direct injection turbocharged petrol unit and the new 1.5-litre dCi 110hp turbodiesel. A 1.6 DIG-T, 150hp turbo petrol unit will join the line-up later this year.
I have just finished my first longer driving spell behind the wheel of the likely best selling retail version, the 1.5 dCi, 2WD with Acenta Premium specification priced at £22,690.
Now this might seem like down-sizing an engine too far in a vehicle of this size and load carrying potential. But the 1.5-litre four cylinder 110hp turbodiesel is a plucky unit and importantly develops its maximum torque of 260Nm (192lb ft) from 1,750rpm. So generally once on the move it is responsive and it more than just copes with maximum motorway cruising speeds without stress. It is a bit sluggish coping with rolling starts in second gear at road junctions and roundabouts but once the turbo is blowing the acceleration picks up smartly enough. It takes just shy of 12.0 seconds to get from zero to 62mph and top speed is 113mph. For most people the fuel economy and tax implications are more important than speed. Well the official headline Combined Cycle figure is 74.3mpg. Over my week of travel, mostly long motorway journeys at 70mph or in stop-start traffic my test driving real-life figure was 52.6mpg, nowhere near the official figure but for a family car of this size I didn’t feel short-changed. Another big advantage is the low CO2 emission figure of 99g/km so this means no VED road tax to pay. Company car drivers will pay 15% Benefit-in-Kind tax which for a diesel powered car is low as these models carry a 3% surcharge over petrol powered cars.
I’m not convinced it’s worth paying an extra £1,305 for the more powerful 150hp 1.6-litre diesel unit over this 1.5 engine especially for company car drivers as their BIK rate goes up to 19% and the fuel economy will be less. Retail customers covering less distances might find it worthwhile paying £1,695 less for the 1.2 DIG-T 115hp turbo petrol model but the fuel economy will be much less as the smaller the engine the harder it works and the VED road tax is £110 for the Year Two onwards rate.
So for most people the 1.5-litre dCI unit will suit most needs most often. And that is really what has made the Qashqai such a success overall; it does what most people want. It is easy to drive, it has an elevated seating position so getting in and out of it is easy, there is more headroom, better rear seat space and legroom, the seats offer more support, the ride comfort is much better with this new range and the handling will not disappoint most people. The quality and design of the interior trim looks and feels a much higher grade – it looks posher. The extra boot space, now 430-litres, with height adjustable load floor is very effective especially the 16 combination luggage board system which offers a variety of solutions for securing parcels, bags and such like. It is all well thought out.
The specification of the Acenta Premium is first class and includes electrically operated windows and heated door mirrors, air conditioning, the Smart Vision Pack which includes traffic sign recognition, auto high/low beam headlights, lane departure warning, front collision warning, and front and rear parking sensors. There is also Nissan Connect with its 7-inch touchscreen navigation and entertainment functions, DAB radio, Bluetooth, colour rear reversing camera, cruise control, on-board computer, panoramic glass sunroof which brightens the dark interior, 17-inch alloy wheels and the fuel saving stop/start system. There is also the push-button start button and unfortunately an electronic parking brake. It is the complete package and compliments the overall desirability and functionality the new Qashqai offers motorists who want a functional and smart to look at family or business car.
The design doesn’t differ greatly from the first generation Qashqai; it’s slightly larger and a bit more curvaceous with a bolder and stylish front grille flanked by new headlights. There is the rising waistline giving it a hint of coupe styling suggesting ‘pace’. Unfortunately the glass windows at the rear corners are small so visibility in those areas is not as good, probably the only area of the car where fashion outdoes function.
In short the new Nissan Qashqai invites only minor criticism; it’s already won many awards from the media and praise in terms of strong orders from new customers.
MILESTONES. Nissan Qashqai 5-Door Crossover, 1.5 dCi Acenta Premium 2WD manual. Price: £22,690. Engine/transmission: 1.5-litre, 4-cylinder, direct injection turbodiesel, 110hp, 260Nm (192lb ft of torque) from 1,750rpm, 6-speed manual, front wheel drive. Performance: 113mph, 0-62mph 11.9 seconds, 74.3mpg Combined Cycle (52.6mpg on test), CO2 99g/km, VED road tax £0, BIK company car tax 15%. Insurance group: 14E. Warranty: 3-years/60,000 miles. Dimensions/capacities: L 4,377mm, W 1,806mm, H 1,590mm, boot/load space 430 to 1,585-litres, braked towing weight 1,350kg. For: A first rate family car, roomy, comfortable, easy to drive, well thought out design inside and out, affordable running costs, tax efficient, built in Britain, easy to see why it’s Nissan’s most successful vehicle to date. Against: Rear quarter visibility, annoying electronic parking brake, no spare wheel. Miles better news agency