Nissan Updates Europe’s Qashqai – and Why Americans Will Be Pleased (Eventually)

Compact CUV gets a facelift for Geneva – and new semi-autonomous technology.

by on Mar.10, 2017

The Nissan Qashqai is getting a new look for Europe. It will also use the automaker's new ProPilot autonomous vehicle driving technology.

Nissan is giving its wildly popular Qashqai crossover a makeover, the public getting a good look at the updated model at this month’s Geneva Motor Show – the new CUV offering a first look at Nissan’s ProPilot self-driving technology.

That’s great news for fans of the Japanese maker’s most popular European model. The Qashqai helped carve out the crossover segment on the Continent, and with a growing list of competitors taking aim, Nissan needs to give buyers reason to keep coming back.

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Until now, the Qashqai has steered clear of the U.S. market. It’s finally getting ready to show up – abeit in the form of the Nissan Rogue Sport that debuted at the Detroit Auto Show in January. For American buyers, that’s the good news. The bad? The Sport will, for at least a year or two, be based on the old Qashqai design.

With sales of more than 230,000 in Europe last year, there’s reason for Nissan to want to keep Qashqai fresh. From a visual standpoint, that means giving the crossover the latest Nissan V-Motion grille, as well as a new front bumper and more sculpted hood. The 2018 Nissan Qashqai also gets a new adaptive lighting system that can bend into corners. The rear gets new taillights.

Inside, Nissan promises “an improved layout,” as well as “higher quality materials.” That includes seats, available on some Qashqai grades, trimmed in Nappa leather.

While the visual changes are modest, there’s some significant new technology rolling out with the 2018 update.

The U.S. version of the Qashqai, the Rogue Sport, will not get the design update.

The Japanese automaker was one of the first to start talking self-driving technology, CEO Carlos Ghosn promising to have the automaker’s first fully autonomous vehicle in production by 2020. He’s also said that Nissan will roll out more and more advanced driver assistance systems – ADAS in auto lingo – before then.

(Nissan brings over Qashqai, renames it Rogue Sport. Click Here for the story.)

ProPilot is the first big step. The system will take over not just accelerating and braking, but also steering. There’s a caveat: it will do so only in certain conditions, typically well-marked, limited-access highways. And it won’t be able to pass a slower vehicle without human intervention. But it’s the next significant step beyond active cruise control and forward collision warning with autobraking, two technologies that are becoming increasingly common.

“We have put the Nissan Intelligent Mobility vision at the heart of our product strategy,” said Paul Wilcox, the chairman of Nissan Europe, “and the Qashqai is proof of that.”

The list of new technologies also includes updates to the NissanConnect infotainment system, and an upgrade Bose audio package.

Nissan also claims to have updated Qashqai’s suspension, steering and damping, to provide “an even more refined on-road experience.” As with most modern soft-roaders, don’t expect to put it at risk on anything more than a gravel road.

(Click Here for Carlos Ghosn’s plans for updated Leaf.)

The new Qashqai will go on sale in Europe starting in July, and then roll out to markets worldwide – with a notable exception. The U.S. is finally getting the Qashqai, rebadged as the Nissan Rogue Sport. It’s a good decision, according to analysts, as the Rogue name is well established in the States, and it would not only be a costly endeavor to launch the Qashqai nameplate, but tricky to simply get Americans to figure out how to pronounce that name.

Incidentally, Qashqai/Rogue Sport shares the same CMF architecture as the familiar Rogue model, albeit losing about a foot in overall length. Rogue is doing what Qashqai has in Europe. And though it lags the segment-leading Honda CR-V, Nissan still racked up 320,000 sales last year.

But there is more opportunity, the maker determined, in a market where overall light trucks now account for nearly two-thirds of all new vehicle sales.

“Rogue Sport fills a need for singles and couples who want more space and versatility than the average sedan for everyday urban use and social activities,” Michael Bunce, Nissan’s North American product planning, said in January.

(To see more about Nissan starting autonomous vehicle testing in Europe, Click Here.)

We’ll begin seeing Rogue Sport roll into U.S. showrooms in the coming weeks, but they will be rebadged versions of the old Qashqai for now. When we’ll get the new model, Nissan officials aren’t saying, though they hint it will likely be a couple years, at least.

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