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Qash court!

New Qashqai all-wheel drive crossover gets the nod from Nissan Australia

15 Dec 2005

NISSAN Australia has confirmed it is considering a small crossover four-wheel drive wagon to slot underneath the X-Trail.

Nissan Australia’s product marketing manager, Michael Hayes, told GoAuto last week that a vehicle such as a production version of the Qashqai concept shown at last year’s Geneva motor show would be a good fit for Australia.

"Certainly whether there’s a segment below the X-Trail segment is being looked at," said Mr Hayes. "The benefits of a smaller SUV under that could be quite attractive.

"Globally we’re looking at it and I have a fundamental rule that I’ll look anything they’re looking at globally.

"Unless I know what’s going on I can’t see whether it would be a match for our market." Named after a desert-dwelling nomadic tribe in Iran, the Qashqai was the first complete design project from Nissan’s European design centre.

12 center imageIt is based on Renault-Nissan’s C-platform, which underpins the Megane, and measures 1570mm in overall height, 1860mm in width and 4310mm in length. It sits on a 2650mm wheelbase, and its off-road credentials include a 237mm ground clearance and compact overhangs.

By comparison, a current model X-Trail is 1675mm high, 1765mm wide and 4510mm long, with a wheelbase of 2625mm.

Mr Hayes said the crossover trend was gaining momentum in Europe and Japan, and that in Australia the traditional new-vehicle segments were increasingly "blurring" as car-makers offered a broader range of product.

"The medium SUV segment is three segments now, not just one," he said. "Even the compact SUV segment has 17 different vehicles in it ranging from a (Suzuki car-based Holden) Cruze to a V6 automatic (Mazda) Tribute." Mr Hayes said the traditional segments and the individual characteristics that defined those segments was no longer "a given".

"Everyone is looking for a competitive advantage," he said. "The ultimate winner is going to be the consumer because they’re going to have so much more choice even within the category of vehicle that they are looking for.” The smaller Nissan off-roader is one of 14 new products to be launched over the next four years, which will push Nissan Australia’s segment penetration from around 40 per cent now to 70 per cent.

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