Nissan electrifies its Qashqai family favourite
EVEN if you don't own one yourself, chances are you probably know someone who has a Nissan Qashqai, writes William Scholes.
It's been one of Northern Ireland's favourite cars since the first version arrived in 2007. Then, it stood out as a bold design because it was a pioneer of the hatchback-meets-SUV crossover style of vehicle.
Nissan's approach has been vindicated over the years - not only by millions of Qashqai sales but by the fact that other manufacturers have copied its formula; the default family car today looks like a lot like a Qashqai...
That context means the car on this page is a Big Deal. It's the all-new third generation of the Qashqai, bringing with it the latest technology, more space for passengers and an intriguing electrified drivetrain.
Nissan has so far released pictures and some details for the new Qashqai, which is due to start reaching showrooms in the summer.
The new Qashqai has a wheelbase 20mm longer than before, contributing to an overall growth in length of 35mm. It's a little taller, too - by 25mm - and measures 32mm wider.
This all yields more headroom and legroom, with Nissan saying this is particularly the case in the back seats. Boot volume has swelled by more than 50 litres to 504 litres.
As is the way these days, the Qashqai packs an infotainment system loaded with in-car wifi, smartphone integration, connected services and an app to remotely monitor and control the car. Digital screens and the latest safety and assistance aids are on board.
Unlike, say, Hyundai with its new Tucson, Nissan has played it relatively safe with its latest Qashqai. The exterior styling is an evolution of the outgoing car; it's neat and modern looking, with the LED headlamps lending a distinctive appearance at the front.
Nissan has announced information about two drivetrains. One is a relatively straightforward 1.3-litre petrol unit with mild-hybrid assistance.
It comes with either 138bhp or 156bhp and can be had with front- or four-wheel-drive and six-speed manual or CVT automatic transmissions.
More interesting is the so-called 'E-Power' version. This uses a 1.5-litre petrol engine, battery and electric motor combination. This isn't a traditional hybrid, however.
The petrol engine is used only to generate electricity for the battery, and isn't connected to the wheels; they're driven only by the electric motor.
The advantage of this approach is that the engine always runs at its most efficient, while the driver gets an electric car driving experience. It could be a canny move by Nissan, and a way of attracting customers who aren't yet convinced that going fully electric is right for their needs.
It adds a fascinating element to what is sure to continue to be one of our most popular new family cars.