Autocar has got more details on Nissan's new small soft-roader, which will be built alongside the strong-selling Qashqai at the company’s Sunderland factory.
As previously reported, the new model will replace the Micra on the Sunderland production line in 2010 and is currently in the design and engineering phase. It’s expected to be over 4m long, making it a close relative of the 4.3m long Qashqai.
Nissan intends to sell its smaller SUV in bigger numbers than the Qashqai, reflecting its keener pricing, and will rely on attractive styling and a higher driving-position to make it a sales success.
The company is juggling the right balance of price and production numbers, but early indications suggest it will undercut the cheapest £14k Qashqai by at least £1500, pitching it into the top-end of the highly-competitive supermini segment.
By tooling up for 4x4-look bodywork, Nissan hopes to avoid repeating the mistake made by Fiat with its Idea, a practical supermini-based MPV. The Idea didn’t sell because buyers weren’t prepared to pay a premium for an innovative small car, preferring instead to buy a C-segment hatch like the Ford Focus.
With pricing so critical, Nissan is battling to keep engineering costs low on the compact soft-roader. As a result it will be engineered in India at a new centre sited in a factory in Chennai that Nissan is building; engineering costs in India are up to 40 per cent cheaper than in the UK.
That’s a blow to Nissan’s engineering staff at Cranfield, fresh from success in engineering the Qashqai and its +2 seven-seat variant.