Back in 2004, we flew up to Nissan’s Sunderland plant to be given a briefing on the company’s brave new world.
After years of selling mainstream hatchbacks, Nissan’s European arm decided to concentrate on superminis and SUVs. During the briefing a teaser image of the upcoming 2005 Qashqai concept was flashed up on the screen.
Nissan’s logic was impeccable. The Primera – a brilliant car in its first two incarnations – had never sold in big enough numbers to make money. In fact, the three generations of Primera didn’t turn a profit.
Equally, the Nissan Almera was an also-ran in a market dominated by the Astra, Golf and Focus. Nissan figured that it did have first-class reputation in SUVs and that it could compete in the Golf-sector with a downsized, town-friendly, SUV.
Nissan was right. The Qashqai was mostly designed, engineered and conceived in the UK and has proved to have been a massive hit. It is sold around the world and is the 12th best-selling car in Europe of any type, shifting over 250,000 units. The Juke – a kind of B-segment off-road coupe – has also been a big sales hit, with around 135,000 sold in European in its first full-year on sale.