What is it?
You will struggle to find a bigger British automotive success story than the Nissan Qashqai.
Sure the badge on the nose is Japanese, but in terms of design, execution and manufacture, this crossover is almost entirely a product of the UK, as it’s designed by Nissan's London studio, developed at its Cranfield technical centre and built in its Sunderland factory.
Crucially, it has also been a smash hit in the sales charts. It’s up for debate whether the Qashqai really was the first true crossover (Matra Rancho, anyone?), but what isn't in doubt is that it was the first to make the concept popular. From the pioneering original in 2006 through to the second generation machine, the Qashqai’s mix of rugged off-road style, family-friendly practicality and a driving experience sharper than that of the average SUV have enabled it to find more than three million homes.
Yet when that first Qashqai arrived 15 years ago, it essentially existed in a class of one; now it faces more than 30 rivals offering a similar SUV-infused schtick. It’s still the number-one player in the C-SUV segment, taking 10% of sales in the UK, but Nissan knows that it can’t rest on its laurels for this all-new third generation machine. Promising more space, greater quality, enhanced technology and even sharper dynamics, the latest Qashqai will need to be on top of its game if it maintains its place at the top of the pecking order.
Despite what’s at stake, Nissan clearly hasn’t played too safe with the design, with its sharp creases, bold curves and wheel-at-each corner stance helping clearly give it a bolder look than its predecessor and inject some of the desirability through distinctive design that made the original such a stand-out.
As with the smaller Juke crossover, a two-tone roof is now standard, while our top of the range Tekna+ models get arch-filling 20in alloy wheels.
Underpinning this Qashqai is the new CMF-C architecture, which is 60kg lighter than the old car’s, despite being 35mm longer, 32mm wider and 10mm higher, plus boasting a 48% increase in torsional rigidity. These weight savings have been achieved through the extensive use of aluminium (bonnet, doors and front wings) and the use of high-tensile steel and a composite tailgate.
As you would expect, the increase in size pays off in terms of interior space – which, let's face it, is likely to be a big draw for potential Qashqai custodians. There’s an extra 28mm of knee room for rear seat passengers and a dash more shoulder room for all, while the boot has ballooned to 504 litres, which is one of the most capacious in the class. Crucially, it’s packed with family-friendly features, too.