Nissan hatches posh mini-SUV
6 September 2006

Nissan is pushing its new mini-SUV upmarket, with an aim to take on the VW Golf, Honda Civic and even Audi A3.

The Qashqai is the first all-British Nissan — it was designed in London, engineered at Cranfield, and will be built at Sunderland. It’s the first European Nissan to be based on the Alliance C platform, shared with the Renault Mégane.

At 1610mm tall, 1780mm wide and 4310mm long, and with a 2630mm wheelbase, the Qashqai is 100mm longer than a typical hatchback but 150mm shorter than a typical SUV. Similarly, it is around 100-150mm taller than rival hatches but around 130mm lower than most SUVs.

Four engines will be available — the 1.6-litre petrol from the Note, a new 2.0-litre petrol producing 138bhp, and 1.5-litre and 2.0-litre Renault turbodiesels.

The Qashqai is ostensibly a replacement for the Almera, but Nissan is keen to push it towards Golf and A3 territory. So the 2.0-litre models will be available with the AllMode four-wheel-drive system used on the X-Trail and Murano, and top-spec editions will also get a panoramic glass roof with an electric blind.

Sales will begin next March, with prices starting at £15,000 and rising to £22,000. Nissan plans to build 100,000 Qashqais next year, with the Sunderland plant supplying the SUV worldwide, including to the Middle East and Japan, where it will be known as the Dualis.

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