Nissan’s Qashqai compact crossover looks set to become the brand’s next North American cash cow as rumours swirl about a Detroit auto show debut next week.
Qashqai (say cash-kai) is no newcomer: it’s been around in Europe since 2007, a smaller version of the Rogue that went on sale here in 2008.
The second-generation model hit overseas showrooms in 2013 — again, just as the larger, redesigned Rogue arrived here. While both the Rogue and subcompact Juke have proven successful for Nissan, there’s a hole between those models that could easily be filled by a car sized to compete with the likes of the Honda HR-V, Mazda CX-3 and Fiat 500X .
But we suspect Ford may have forced Nissan’s hand with a November 2016 announcement it’s bringing the little Ecosport here to slot in below the insanely popular Escape.
In Europe, the Qashqai is offered with a range of gas and diesel engines and a choice of transmissions, but don’t expect that kind of choice here. The question is whether Qashqai will come here with the 2.0L offered in Europe, but that engine would be an orphan in the Nissan’s current North American lineup. Whether the company deems it worthwhile to modify that engine to meet our emissions standards depends on whether the Sentra’s 1.8L is deemed too wimpy to haul around the Qashqai’s extra weight.
And then there’s the issue of the Qashqai nameplate, which might be a little exotic for North America’s rather vanilla taste in automobiles.
Nissan’s press conference at the 2017 Detroit auto show is set for January 9 at 11:30 a.m.; we’ll have coverage of that, and the rest of the show, for you next week.
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