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THE BEST GETS BETTER
With a sophisticated new look, greater refinement, more standard equipment and the launch of a low emission Pure Drive version, the Nissan Qashqai range is even better equipped to strengthen its position as the class-leading, pioneering alternative to the traditional hatchback.
"The Qashqai has been a huge success for us and three years after launch, demand is still outstripping supply. We could have left things as they are and continued to enjoy record sales... but we haven't. A raft of small but significant changes means Qashqai and Qashqai+2 can continue their reign at the top of the market sector."
Simon Thomas, Nissan's European Vice President for Sales and Marketing.
At a glance
Since its launch in March 2007, the Nissan Qashqai has redefined Europe's mid-size hatchback market. Designed and built in Europe, Qashqai - the original Crossover - adopted a genuinely fresh approach to a traditional, conservative sector of the market... and Nissan's bold stance has been a resounding success.
In less than three years, sales of Qashqai and its seven-seat sister Qashqai+2 (launched in Autumn 2008) have exceeded 500,000 units, with more than 80 per cent of sales going to first time Nissan buyers. The longer Qashqai+2 arrived in the autumn of 2008 to expand the appeal of the range still further.
It worked. Demand is still outstripping supply and has led to the introduction of a third shift at the company's award-winning plant in Sunderland, in the north east of England. In 2009, the Qashqai range accounted for more than 60 per cent of the plant's total output.
And there will be no let up in Qashqai's class-leading sales performance thanks to the arrival of a new look version for 2010. While Qashqai's core Crossover values - the driving dynamics of a sporty hatchback blended with the practicality and solidity of a compact SUV - remain unchanged, a sophisticated new look, enhanced interior quality and greater refinement will broaden its appeal still further.
The major visual change is to the front of Qashqai, with a new bonnet, new wings, new grille and new headlamps. At the rear there are new taillights and a re-profiled tailgate spoiler. The make-over includes new designs of alloy wheels, while fine tuning the car's aerodynamics has seen its Cd figure drop to 0.33: the addition of extensive aerodynamic panels not only smoothes the flow of air under the car but also reduces road noise.
Inside there are new, easier-to-read instruments, and a greater emphasis on quality with new materials, new colours and other subtle touches for a feeling of increased sophistication. New equipment includes a speed limiter to help prevent the driver inadvertently breaking speed limits.
Although the basic mechanical layout of Qashqai - four engine options (two petrol, two diesel), front- or ALL MODE four-wheel drive, fully independent suspension - remains unchanged, there have been a number of small changes designed to enhance the vehicle's dynamics still further. For example, dampers have been retuned for improved body control, reduced noise and better bump-thump absorption while the steering feel has also been improved.
Greater noise insulation and the adoption of an acoustic windscreen also add to enhanced levels of refinement. Practical touches include increased cabin storage and new cubby holes in the luggage area of Qashqai+2.
With the need for lower emissions uppermost in the minds of Nissan engineers, a Pure Drive version of Qashqai with CO2 emissions of just 129 g/km has been developed. The 1.5 dCi powered model has a longer final drive ratio, tyres with low rolling resistance and a number of aerodynamic tweaks to cut emissions from 137 g/km. As well as the underbody changes, the Pure Drive version has aerodynamic wheel covers and blanked fog lamp sockets to help it achieve its goal.
"Before embarking on these changes, we listened long and hard to comments from existing Qashqai buyers. They love the innovative nature of the car, its practicality and the way it drives. The 2010 version builds on that with a greater air of sophistication, quality and refinement. The best just got even better," said Pierre Loing, Nissan's European Vice President for Product Planning and Strategy.
2010 Qashqai in detail
2010 Qashqai in detail
Design and aerodynamics
The most obvious change for the new Qashqai and Qashqai+2 can be found at the front, where a complete makeover means new everything: bonnet, grille, bumpers, wings and headlamps.
The original chunky headlamps have been replaced by new, sleeker units which provide a more cohesive link between the front and side profile of the vehicle. The lamp assemblies have a more ‘technical' look with intricate detailing of the three main elements - low beam, high beam and turn indicator - and have been designed to tuck under the leading edge of the bonnet to create a tighter finish with reduced panel gaps.
Not only does the result look better and reinforces the feeling of quality, the tighter finish offers a small but significant aerodynamic improvement. To ensure the bonnet will never come into direct contact with the headlamp glass when slammed shut, however, two further bump stops have been added near the headlamps.
The bonnet itself is longer with the two distinctive strakes pioneered in the original Qashqai also being longer and more pronounced.
It leads to a new honeycomb grille dominated, as ever, by the Nissan logo and its three-sided chrome frame, and to a new front bumper with a larger air intake in its lower section. This latter change not only helps give the 2010 Qashqai a distinctive new look, but also optimises engine cooling. As a result engineers have been able to fit a smaller radiator which aids efficiency as well as offering aerodynamic improvements. The changes add 17 mm to the length of both Qashqai models.
Front fog lamps are better integrated into the lower bumper assembly, again for aerodynamic reasons: the Pure Drive model without the lamps as standard has flush fitting blanking plates to help smooth air flow still further.
Linking the front and side profile are new front wings. They retain, however, the black composite wheel arch extensions which help give Qashqai its authentic SUV credentials. The characteristic crease from the original model remains, starting from the new front wing it gently rises along the Qashqai's flanks to flow into the new lamp clusters at the rear which complete the new look of the 2010 model.
Although the outline of the lamps hasn't changed, the shape and detail most certainly have. The new lamps now feature neat air deflectors on the side to deflect air flow around the assembly to help keep them cleaner in bad weather.
The graphic of the lights, however, is the biggest change with a boomerang-shaped ‘slash' of white - housing the reversing light and turn indicators - dominating the top half of the assembly. The lower section houses the tail-lights and stop lamps, the latter using 12 LEDs for quicker response and greater clarity... and to provide a distinctive signature at night. Although both Qashqai and Qashqai+2 have identical revised front end styling, the tailgates and rear bumpers remain, as before, unique to each model.
Another notable change to the rear is the roof spoiler which has been reprofiled to reduce drag and improve CO2 emission across the board.
New five-spoke 16-inch and 10-spoke 17-inch alloy wheels match the understated sophistication of the exterior, as do two new metallic colours, Magnetic Red and Titanium Grey. The overall effect is to enhance the visual appeal of Qashqai and to meet the expectations of customers moving from premium hatchbacks or compact executive cars.
At the same time, the changes have helped improve Qashqai's aerodynamic efficiency, though the greatest improvement in that area is out of sight underneath the car.
Extensive cladding gives an almost totally smooth underbody to remove obstacles that can upset the flow of air beneath the car. Although the first generation Qashqai had small deflectors ahead of the front tyres and panels under the engine area, these have been further optimised using Computational Fluid Dynamics (CFD) and full scale wind tunnel testing.
In addition, new flat panels under the front and rear floor sections have been added along with smaller panel closing off the area under the rear bumper. Again, existing small deflectors ahead of the rear wheels have been optimised. The result is a 3 per cent drop in Qashqai's overall CDA, while its Cd has fallen from 0.34 to 0.33.
Although the increase in aerodynamic efficiency was always the main target for the underbody changes, a bonus has been an improvement in refinement with significant reductions in, and a change of character of, noises generated from stone chippings and when driving through standing water.
These aerodynamic changes have been used to great effect on a new Pure Drive 129g version. Any Nissan vehicle wearing the Pure Drive badge is marked out as one of the most efficient vehicles in the range. In Qashqai's case, that means a CO2 reduction from 137 to 129g/km.
Based on the 1.5 dCi diesel model, the aerodynamic changes found on all models are augmented by flush wheel covers and blanked fog lamps sockets. A weight reduction programme, the adoption of low rolling resistance tyres and a longer final drive ratio also help to lower emissions and improve fuel economy.
Stepping up into the Qashqai cabin there are three immediately obvious enhancements: the adoption of footwell lighting giving a welcoming glow; the new interior colours and materials; and the revised instrumentation.
A new Pearl Grey leather trim has been added to the options lists which gives a light but warm interior ambience. When Pearl Grey is specified on Qashqai, the door trims are also grey and contrast with the black upper portion of the cockpit and black carpeting. In Qashqai+2, the grey theme extends to the carpet, too. Changes have been made to the leather upholstery - black or grey - which no longer has an embossed diamond pattern to give a more natural look and feel.
Perhaps the biggest interior change has been to the instrumentation. The back-lit white-on-black display features red needles and clearer graphics. The two main dials, with discreet chrome bezels, are a large tachometer and speedometer which incorporate smaller gauges for engine temperature and fuel.
Between the two major dials is a new drive computer display, using Thin Film Transistor (TFT) technology,. Offering more comprehensive information than before - with improved viewing angles allowing front passengers to see the time and outside temperature - the display is easily accessed and is available in eight different European languages including Russian.
As well as instant and average fuel consumption, distance covered and distance to empty read-outs, the display holds information on cruise control and speed limiter settings. The latter is new for the 2010 model year cars, and allows a driver to set a desired maximum speed. It is ideal when driving in busy urban areas or through areas patrolled by average speed cameras.
Qashqai's rear seatbelt reminder is now integrated into the new TFT display for improved user friendliness and occupant safety. The driver can easily see which rear seatbelts are unbuckled at the start of a journey; and if a rear passenger unbuckles during a journey, the rear seatbelt reminder automatically re-appears in the display.
Where fitted, a satellite navigation system with touch screen controls and post code entry is fully integrated into the central stack, rather than as an ‘add-on' at the top of the dashboard.
A premium hi-fi system specially created for Qashqai by Bose® is also available. It incorporates no fewer than seven high performance speakers, comprising two 3.5cm neodymium tweeters in the instrument panel, four 16.5 cm neodymium speakers, one in each door, and a 13 cm Richbass® woofer in a 7-litre custom-engineered bass enclosure mounted in the spare wheel well.
Sound is sent via a digital amplifier mounted under the passenger seat which incorporates digital signal processing (DSP) and five channels of customised equalisation. This combination helps tune the sound specifically for Qashqai and produces music with clear, life-like sound and a natural tonal timbre.
Improved practicality in the cabin includes greater oddment storage with a new cubby at the base of the central cluster, ideal for a mobile phone or personal music player. As before, Qashqai can be fully equipped with Nissan Connect which incorporates Bluetooth connectivity for mobile phones, while iPods and other MP3 players can be controlled via the car's audio system.
With no ALL MODE selector needed, two-wheel drive models have a further small oddment space between the two front seats, while in the luggage area twin storage trays have been added on either side of the rearmost section near the tailgate. As before, this area features a shallow storage bay wide enough to stow the tonneau cover when the rear seats in Qashqai+2 are in use. The bay's cover doubles as a vertical luggage room divider which is also perfect for stowing carrier bags full of supermarket shopping, preventing their contents from spilling all over the luggage area.
One key area of improvement has been a renewed focus on noise, vibration and harshness (NVH). With deteriorating road surfaces all over Europe doing their best to shake cars to pieces, emphasis has been placed on eliminating rattles and squeaks at the same time as reducing wind noise and improving NVH performance generally.
Introduced on the new Qashqai are a number of new technologies including multi-layer dashboard insulation, as well as enhanced underbonnet noise insulation: 2.0-litre petrol models now have levels of underbonnet insulation previously developed for the diesel version, while diesels benefit from even greater insulation with revised foam isolation blocks in the windscreen pillars and additional insulation around the front floor and transmission tunnel areas..
An acoustic windscreen on diesel variants further reduces engine noise, while revised door and window seals, particularly around the A-pillars, also help to reduce wind noise.
As well as being a quieter place, the cabin is better served by the heating, ventilation and air-conditioning (HVAC) system. As well as larger heater matrix, the HVAC controls are more logical in use and the demisting performance improved. While the popular high level air flow feature from the original Qashqai is retained, it is now controlled from within the main HVAC controls. The high level vent allowed a gentle flow of conditioned air to filter through the cabin over the heads of the occupants for added comfort. The A/C compressor capacity has been increased on the 1.5 litre diesel to improve cooling performance, with detailed system tuning on all engines to reduce the vent outlet temperatures.
Visibility for those in the back seats has been improved by a new design of front seat headrest which is less imposing than before but with no compromise in its safety performance. And speaking of rear seat visibility, Russian customers can now join other European countries and enjoy the large Panoramic glass roof which covers the full width of the car and extends for virtually the entire length of the roof.
Driving conditions in Russia mean cars destined for that market now feature a manual headlamp washer control allowing the driver to operate the system as required without needing to wait for automatic operation.
Although there have been some engineering improvements to the 2010 Qashqai models, the basic layout remains unchanged. Both models sit on the Alliance C platform giving Qashqai a 2631 mm wheelbase, while Qashqai+2's is longer by 134 mm at 2765 mm.
Front suspension features a sub-frame mounted strut-type system with combined coil-over-strut assemblies and a forward lower link. The sub-frame has compliant rubber mounts to isolate road noise and vibration from the platform, improving both general refinement and ride comfort. A front anti-roll bar is attached directly to the strut assembly for more effective control of body roll under cornering, while high performance Sachs shock absorbers are fitted to maintain serene road-manners.
Fully independent multi-link rear suspension has been used for precise handling and high-speed stability. Attached to the vehicle via a rigid rear subframe to keep unwanted noise and vibrations to a minimum, the compact assembly features an aluminium rear upper link to make a 4kg weight saving. In addition, the rear shock absorbers are tilted to ensure minimal intrusion into the luggage area.
Detailed changes have been made to the damping, with both front and rear dampers retuned to improve body control, ride comfort - especially over rough roads - and stability, when hitting a bump mid corner for example. The rear damper stroke has been increased for better ride comfort over larger inputs while new rear damper bushes improve durability and noise isolation.
Steering feel has also been improved. The electric system is retained but a slight increase in assistance means less steering effort is required under most circumstances at the same time as enhancing responsiveness and feedback around dead centre.
Where fitted, Nissan's ALL MODE 4x4 system allows secure and relaxed driving with advanced electronics taking care of all traction needs.
Under normal conditions, the Qashqai operates in front-wheel drive to reduce energy losses and save on fuel. The instant wheel slippage is detected however, a centre clutch in the rear final drive is electronically activated and drive is correctly apportioned between front and rear axles.
The system has three modes. In 2WD, the system is permanently set in front-wheel drive, ideal for fine weather on-road use. When the Lock setting is used, however, the system switches to permanent four-wheel drive mode with drive split 50:50 front to rear.
The most often used mode, however, is ‘select-and-forget' Auto, in which the system is left to its own devices. Sensors linking the engine's ECU with the four-wheel drive and ABS controller constantly monitor wheel slippage and automatically send signals to the electromagnetic centre clutch mounted just ahead of the rear axle to apportion torque correctly.
Qashqai is equipped with ESP along with cornering brake control (CBC) and EUC, which stands for enhanced understeer control. In the latter case, the system applies brake torque control to all four wheels to reduce vehicle speed and is used in situations when the normal reduction of understeer by braking the inside rear wheel is not effective. . .
Engines and transmissions
As before, there are two petrol and two diesel engines available. The entry-level petrol engine is an all-aluminium unit displacing 1598cc, developing 115PS (84kW) Torque is 156Nm.
The 2.0-litre petrol unit is another all-aluminium 16 valve design, this time displacing 1997cc and developing 140PS (104kW) and 196Nm of torque. Some 90 per cent of that torque is available from 2000rpm providing the accelerative ‘punch' more usually expected in larger engines.
The entry-level diesel uses the most powerful version of Renault's acclaimed 8 valve 1.5 dCi (K9K) engine developing 106PS (78kW) and 240Nm of torque, while the 2.0 dCi, co-developed with Renault, delivers fun-to-drive performance in a smooth, refined, and environmentally-friendly manner. It is fitted with an advanced Bosch piezoelectric-controlled injection system, develops 150PS (110kW) and 320Nm of torque and has a diesel particulate filter (DPF) as standard.
Depending on the model, five- and six-speed manual and six-speed automatic transmissions are offered. The 2.0-litre petrol is also available with an advanced CVT ‘stepless' transmission providing a virtually limitless number of ratios, ensuring the engine is always working as efficiently as possible, resulting in smoother acceleration as well as better fuel economy and lower emissions.
"Qashqai has captured the imagination of the car buying public in a way that has surprised even us. But its success has given us the confidence to take the Crossover concept a stage further with the new Juke, and to build on the appeal of Qashqai with the 2010 changes. If you liked the original Qashqai, you'll like this one even more," said Pierre Loing.