New Qashqai has sharper and more muscular lines, with an enlarged V-Motion chrome grille flanked by slim LED headlamps. Picture: SUPPLIED
New Qashqai has sharper and more muscular lines, with an enlarged V-Motion chrome grille flanked by slim LED headlamps. Picture: SUPPLIED

Nissan has unveiled its third generation Qashqai, one of the vehicles that pioneered the trend towards more road-based SUVs, otherwise known as crossovers. 

The segment has seen a meteoric rise in recent years — mostly at the expense of traditional sedans — with buyers attracted to their higher ground clearance and perceived superior practicality.

With more than 3-million Qashqais sold since the first-gen was launched in 2007, the modern version arrives with a new design, better space, electrified power trains and the latest technology.

A restyle entails the adoption of sharper and more muscular lines, with an enlarged V-Motion chrome grille flanked by slim LED headlamps and “boomerang” signature daytime running lights. It’s an evolutionary rework but it stands out with a prominent shoulder line and an extended wheelbase, giving the Nissan a more purposeful stance.

The new car is available for the first time with 20-inch diamond-cut alloy wheels (up from 19-inch on the old car). It is 35mm longer and 32mm wider than its predecessor, with a 20mm wheelbase increase improving the cabin space, while the boot has grown by a handy 50l.

Nissan says the cabin sets a new segment standard for premium feel, distinctive design and enhanced usability. Extensive attention has also been paid to the ergonomic and aesthetic quality of the switch gear and buttons with a high-quality tactile feel, the carmaker adds.

A new infotainment system has a larger, high-resolution 9-inch display screen and offers in-car Wi-Fi for up to seven devices. It is compatible with both Android Auto and Apple CarPlay, with wireless Apple CarPlay also introduced.

A new high-definition digital 12.3 inch TFT multi-information screen offers a choice of configurable layouts to display navigation, entertainment, traffic or vehicle information. The TFT’s traditional “Kiriko” cut-glass background references Nissan’s Japanese DNA. Front and rear USB ports provide charging points for the whole family.

Available technology includes a head-up display for the driver, and a powered hands-free tailgate.

Extensive attention has been paid a high-quality tactile feel, says Nissan. Picture: SUPPLIED
Extensive attention has been paid a high-quality tactile feel, says Nissan. Picture: SUPPLIED

The new Qashqai will be available in two-wheel drive (2WD) and four-wheel drive (4WD) variants, with a choice of six-speed manual or new Xtronic auto transmissions. As before, it is not intended as a proper dirt-dueller but the 4WD version offers five driving modes — Standard, ECO, Sport, Snow and Off-Road to tackle various driving conditions.

The engine range comprises a 1.3l petrol turbo mild-hybrid engine offered in two power outputs — 103kW and 116kW — and a 140kW, 1.5l petrol-electric hybrid dubbed e-Power.

In the 1.3 versions, the 12V mild-hybrid system recovers energy when the car decelerates and stores it in a lithium-ion battery. This charged energy is used to power the vehicle’s electrical equipment when the Qashqai is at standstill or coasting to a halt, extending the time the engine stays off and improving fuel economy.

The e-Power model uses a 115kW 1.5l petrol engine to generate electricity for a 140kW electric motor that powers the wheels. The petrol engine is used solely to generate electricity, a set-up that Nissan says has superior fuel efficiency and lower carbon dioxide emissions than solely using an internal combustion engine.

To make it ride and handle better, the new Qashqai uses Nissan’s CMF-C platform, which is 60kg lighter and 41% stiffer.

The car uses next-generation ProPilot driver assistance, adaptive cruise control that is able to read road signs and take into account navigation system speed limit data to slow the Qashqai to the appropriate speed. The system can also use data from the navigation system to adjust the speed for approaching curves or exit ramps that have a tighter radius.

ProPilot also makes steering input corrections to prevent lane changes when vehicles are in your blind spot.

Another new safety feature is a central airbag that deploys between the two front seats and prevents the front row occupants from hitting each other during a side impact.

Other advances include intelligent headlights that adapt the shape of the beam to provide maximum road illumination without dazzling oncoming cars.

Nissan’s new Qashqai is headed for SA in the fourth quarter of 2021.

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