The subject of this week’s road test has been dubbed the Nissan Cashcow by some in industry circles. That’s because the Qashqai crossover almost single-handedly saved Nissan in Europe when the first generation was launched in 2006.
It really popularised the idea that you can have something that looks like an off-roader without it actually needing all the heavy, inefficient hardware to make it capable in the mud – and people responded in numbers.
Although practically every other manufacturer followed suit and produced a competitor, Nissan’s original continues to top the UK crossover-class sales. With 52,532 registrations in 2019, it was the fifth-best-selling car in the UK, beating its Ford Kuga rival by more than 10,000. It even managed to maintain its position in the extraordinary year that was 2020.
As well as being a success story for Nissan, the Qashqai is also a shining beacon for UK car manufacturing, having been produced in Sunderland from the start. As car maker after car maker closes its UK manufacturing base – Honda made its last Civic in Swindon only a few weeks ago – it is heartening that the new, third-generation Qashqai continues to be made here.
The second-generation Qashqai had been around since 2013 so it’s remarkable that although it lagged somewhat behind the best of the competition, it remained on the pace in sales terms. It makes sense, therefore, for Nissan to tread carefully with the new one. Indeed, its strategy of making its pure- electric SUV, the Ariya, a completely separate model leaves room for the EV to be a bit bolder, while the Qashqai remains a crowd pleaser.