In one of the most prestigious automobile events in Paris, Nissan introduced a new SUV that have swept off the feet of many Europeans. With the President and Chief Executive of London Nissan Motor Co., Carlos Ghosn introducing the new Qashqai, Europeans was set off running to check out this ride after it was made available in February 2007.
Sold at $28,000, with specs that potentially have come at par with the big competitors in the market, Nissan wasn’t able to taste a bitter failure after they have set the target production rate at 100,000 units per year. Few years after, the investment that amounted to almost four hundred million euros did not go to waste. And while MG Rove has collapsed and Jaguar, Peugeot and Vauxhaull was met with whinges from the consumers, the Qashqai serves as a proof that Japanese automakers can still get a lot from investing heavily in Britain.
What could be accounted for this success may be the amiable specifications of the car. During its dawn in the market, consumers were presented with four engine options that ranged from the 1.5 liter and 2.0 liter diesel to the 1.6 liter and 2.0-liter gasoline models. The performance of each engine type may not be compared to the ultra-fast vehicles made in Italy and other parts of Europe, but a closer look on the amount of power each engine can produce can open doors for enjoyment behind the wheels. Being more of a compact SUV (or a hatchback) than a road giant, the 115 horsepower from the 1.6 litre engine and the 104 horsepower produced from the 1.5-litre diesel is on the impressive side. After all, car owners have the option to pay a notch higher to upgrade the 1.6 litre engine which can produce up to 128 horsepower. And if there’s a need for more punch and power, the 2.0 petrol/diesel can be bought to enjoy 138-148 horsepower on the road – an upgrade that is only available for an automatic gearbox.
Other than the fairly amusing power under the hood, the Qashqai takes its edge from its refinement on the road. Despite the slight sound from the wind friction on the oversized door mirrors, drivers of the car entertained by the discreet contained sound of the suspension – even on rough terrains. The smaller diesel engine may be quite grumbly downtown, but it quiets down when the car takes on a steady cruise on highways.
What makes this possible are the chucky tires and supple suspension that allows it to “float” smoothly even on bumpy landscapes at any speed. The only drawback to Nissan’s quest to provide a comfy ride through a lofty stance is the amount of body lean felt by the passengers through bends. Then again, drivers can enjoy road trips in curvy trails because the lean is progressive, and the steering wheel remains controllable and direct.
TopGear is also all-praises on this vehicle for its cool looks that’s understated but distinctive – exactly what cars need these days. The quality says it all – soft-touch materials that cover the dashtop along with sturdy plastics that makes up the rest of the fascia, instantly makes the Qashqai a breath of fresh air that had been long missed since the Merc A-Class.