What is it?
You’re looking at the latest, smallest-capacity version of Nissan’s all-conquering Qashqai SUV; designed, developed and built right here in the UK.
This is a two-wheel-drive model, conceived in the knowledge that many more soft-roaders are employed to collect kids from school than to climb mountains, so their owners are happy to avoid paying for a lot of heavy all-wheel-drive paraphernalia strapped underneath, a saving that amounts to several thousand pounds and 60-80kg.
A few years ago, an SUV with a 1.2-litre four-cylinder petrol engine, even if turbocharged and able to muster a healthy 113bhp and 140lb ft of torque, would have been laughed out of court. Not enough grunt, people would have said. It’ll rev its head off and probably wear out before the rest of the car has lived half a life.
But times have changed. Modern customer demands (and modern engine design theory) have shown that small engines can deliver top-class durability while saving mass, space and internal friction, to the benefit of the total vehicle’s agility, performance, fuel consumption and braking performance.
This is why Nissan has chosen to offer its lightweight 1.2-litre 16-valve four-cylinder turbo petrol engine in Sunderland’s super-successful SUV, providing an entry-level alternative to the 108bhp 1.5-litre dCi diesel, already one of the range’s best-sellers. The petrol model is expected to gain altitude rapidly as customers discover its virtues.