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Why the next Nissan Qashqai will be bold

Drawing board: Nissan says the next-generation Qashqai will be a bold redesign of the current model, which itself was a departure from the SUV norm upon its reveal.

Evolution out as Nissan design boss suggests bigger changes for incoming Qashqai

5 Nov 2019


NISSAN design boss Alfonso Albaisa has hinted at a much bolder look for the next-generation Qashqai due in Australia around 2021, adding that he is not interested in evolution but instead revolution as that is what people now expect from the brand.


Speaking to the media at the Tokyo motor show last week, the 32-year company design veteran said that while “we don’t want to throw the baby out with the bathwater” by straying too far from the inherent rightness of the concept that made the first two Qashqai models successful beyond Nissan’s wildest dreams, the company cannot afford to be complacent or timid with the third-generation follow-up.


“I’m not so sure evolution works,” Mr Albaisa said. “Qashqai as a complete model is wonderful – it fits in the life of everyone, every European. (But) there was more leniency for that car (for the 2014 restyle).


“Our car is not about evolution. I don’t think we should mix this up. This is an artificial factor that we invent. We should make the best car every time. It doesn’t cost more. So that’s my answer about the next Qashqai’s design.”


While Nissan would not confirm how revolutionary the changes will be on the J12 when it makes its global debut next year, it is widely speculated that the body will be larger, longer, sleeker and roomier than before, the cabin will adopt higher-quality fittings to match the advances made in the areas of multimedia, communications and driver-assist technologies, and that electrification may become available on some models.


As before, the Qashqai is likely to share its Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi Alliance underpinnings with the incoming X-Trail, although that model will be larger still next time around in its fourth iteration.


The Qashqai is regarded as a trendsetter in Europe since it helped pave the way for consumers used to buying C-segment small cars like the Volkswagen Golf to instead consider compact SUVs or crossovers.


Famously, it was Nissan’s inability to crack the so-called ‘Golf market’ with several generations of the Pulsar-based Almera built in the UK from the mid-1990s to 2006 that led the company to try something radical like the Qashqai in the first place.


Mr Albaisa revealed that the original Qashqai from 2006 – sold in Australia from 2007 to 2014 as the Dualis before the redesign adopted the global naming policy – came about precisely because Nissan’s mindset about design and packaging revolves around revolution anyway, not evolution.


“I was around (during the first Qashqai’s gestation in the early to mid-2000s), and I feel that we weren’t consciously replacing the Almera necessarily,” he said.


“We did see a change in the human beings in Europe, a little bit of an unmet need of the Golf; a lot of our study was about the VW Golf at that time, and we saw such an opportunity that this Golf was a great car, but there was something missing about it and Qashqai came about because of that mindset.


“We also, as designers especially, need to remember that people see the future in us, and they get more disappointed in us when we don’t do something provocative, where they are a little bit accepting that VW Group is a bit more evolutionary in a nice way. I think we would be crucified, and we have been, most of the time. And we don’t need to. 


“We should never dilute the power of design at Nissan because that’s why people think of us. I think we have to be more afraid of evolution than revolution, in our case.”

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