Another Nissan baby is born

Mabuyane Kekana

Mabuyane Kekana

We live in exciting and interesting times as far as automotives are concerned.

Look at the rate at which car makers introduce new cars.

Amazing, isn't it?

Now, Nissan South Africa has added another child to its family. Launched in George last week, the new Nissan Qashqai is here to compete in the compact SUV market.

The new Qashqai will join forces with its siblings such as the Murano and X-Trail to take a large stake of the SUV segment. Qashqai will be positioned between compact SUV and C-segments.

Qashqai was named after a tribe in Iran. Why Nissan chose the name is unknown?

Back to the launch. The general quality of this new sporty did not disappoint me. The clean interior clearly shows the intentions of the Japanese maker.

It is safe to say Qashqai is a beautiful car, not too much body work. Also, it is affordably priced, from R183900. This is impressive.

The maker hopes that this car will bring new customers to the Nissan brand.

Nissan South Africa says about 75percent of Qashqai owners in Europe were first time Nissan-buyers.

The new Qashqai was launched in three models, the 1,6 Visia, base model, the 1,6 Acenta and the 2,0 litre Acenta.

At this stage, only the petrol model is available. Diesel will be introduced in the second half of next year.

The maker says they have adapted some of Murano's stance and image for Qashqai.

One or two design cues are common to both. The upswept side window graphic for example - but the new sporty is far from being a clone of Murano.

Like brothers, they both clearly belong to the same family but have their own individual identities.

Work on Qashqai began in 2003, with the development of a show car that broke cover at the 2004 Geneva Motor show.

"We displayed it at Auto Africa in 2006 and it attracted quite a bit of attention. The South African market is ready for Qashqai with its interesting looks and features", said Karl Kielblock, senior product manager at Nissan South Africa.

Qashqai's sports car-inspired proportion accentuates the athleticism of the overall design. For instance, the shape of the front and side windows promise sporting performance.

The side profile follows the movement of the roof line and finishes with the small upswept triangular third window, first seen on Murano.

Typical SUV features include the almost vertical nose and the contrasting colour of the sturdy bumpers and side protection panels. Higher ground clearance than conventional hatchbacks also hint at SUV capability.

The middle-of-the-range 1,6 litre Acenta is priced at R196900, while top of the range 2,0-litre Acenta goes for R219950.