Seven up as Nissan aims for families
COTTONING on to the fact that there exist a host of families who want neither a big, bulky 4x4 nor the style vacuum that most MPV people movers represent, Nissan brought us the sevenseat Qashqai+2.
A true “crossover” vehicle with elements of a number of genres built in, it looks stronger than ever in the latest facelifted guise.
The Qashqai has also been a big hit, offering an alternative to the conventional family hatch without looking like a big, profligate urban 4x4. In Qashqai+2 form, it’s bigger but still looks anything but a Chelsea tractor.
This seven-seat version taps into a market that needs a sizeable family car that will occasionally host more than five occupants but which still looks socially acceptable and has a modicum of style.
Think for a moment how many other cars can fulfil that brief and you’ll understand why Nissan is so bullish about this model.
There’s a wide choice of engines available to Qashqai customers with two diesels and two petrol powerplants to consider.
Things start off with a 1.6litre 115bhp petrol unit and move up through 106bhp 1.5dCi diesel and 140bhp 2.0-litre petrol units before topping-out with the 150bhp 2.0-litre dCi diesel.
Nissan hasn’t skimped when it comes to transmission options either, the Qashqai being supplied with five and six-speed manual boxes, a six-speed auto option and even an advanced Constantly Variable Transmission (CVT).
The ALL-MODE 4x4 system is available on the 2.0-litre vehicles, with the others sending drive to the front wheels only. This is an electronic system which automatically engages fourwheel drive the moment a loss of traction is detected.
It offers more safety and security in extreme weather on-road.
Nissan makes no bones of the fact that the Qashqai is anything but an off-roader, citing its lack of ground clearance.
What precludes it from tackling rutted tracks makes it a better car on the blacktop, the hunkered down centre of gravity giving the Nissan its nimble feel.
The Qashqai+2 weighs 100kg more than its five-seat sibling and the suspension and steering systems have been retuned to take account of this.
Everything from the windscreen pillars forward is standard Qashqai. Everything behind this point has been modified in the Qashqai+2. The wheelbase has been extended by 135mm and the overall length has grown by 211mm to 4,526mm.
To make sure that rear seat occupants don’t feel too hemmed in, the roof line has been reprofiled as well, adding 38mm to the car’s height.
The doors have been redesigned and the side windows are now bigger, as is the rear tailgate window, making the back feel anything but claustrophobic. The middle row of seats splits 40/40/40 and the backrest reclines to no fewer than nine adjustment positions.
A more aggressive frontal styling treatment marks out the latest Qashqai+2 from its pre-facelift forbear. It wasn’t merely an exercise in reshaping the headlights and grille either: bonnet, bumper, grille, headlamps and wings all got the treatment. Around the back, little has changed aside from subtle aerodynamic tweaks and LED lights.
Like the five-seat Qashqai, the +2 is available in various different trim and equipment versions –Visia, Acenta and Tekna. Depending on the version, standard equipment includes automatic lighting, automatic wipers, speed sensitive door locking, cruise control, privacy glass, electric windows, parking sensors, a choice of 16 or 17-inch alloy wheels and Nissan’s Intelligent Key.
Manual or automatic air conditioning incorporates mild flow ventilation, while to provide sufficient airflow for the rearmost passengers, a larger compressor is fitted.
The N-Tec and Tekna models feature the Nissan Connect system which incorporates Bluetooth connectivity, touch-screen satellite navigation, a colour reversing camera, an MP3 compatible CD stereo and a USB interface for connecting MP3 players.
There’s little doubt that the Qashqai will find ready buyers when the time comes to sell as it seems to have struck a chord with British customers looking for a socially responsible alternative to the usual “Chelsea tractor”.
The front-wheel-drive cars are in even hotter demand than the four-wheel-drive models as a result.