"There's change in the air. Thanks to the Nissan Qashqai, something different has arrived. You need never drive a boring car again." That's quite the big build up from one of Nissan's senior product planners and it's driven home with claims that the Qashqai is "a catalyst for change, a totally new vehicle in a totally new sector of the market", and a car which should be seen as an "urban nomad." There's even reference to the boldly asymmetric interior, which I took to mean a steering wheel on one side and a lack of one on the other. At this point any right-thinking person's capacity for hyperbole would overflow and it's my duty to tell it like it is.
The Qashqai, in reality, is somewhere between an all-wheel drive-orientated Family Hatchback (like a Fiat Sedici or a Suzuki SX4) and a road-orientated compact 4x4 (like Toyota's RAV4 or Honda's CR-V). And, like all of the current versions of these cars, it incorporates MPV-style practicalities on board. Like many rivals of this kind, the Qashqai offers the choice of a two or a four-wheel drive platform, the front-wheel drive model being perfectly adequate for 95% of customer's requirements. In case you were wondering where the wacky name came from, it's pronounced 'kash-kai' and is named after a desert-dwelling nomadic tribe from South Western Iran.
Perhaps the Qashqai was a bigger deal for Nissan than it was to the average Joe in the street as it was the first model to be styled by Nissan Design Europe in London, with engineering input from Nissan Technical Centre Europe (NTCE) in Cranfield, Bedfordshire. First shown at the 2006 Paris Show, the Qashqai was part of Nissan's move towards utility vehicles in varying sizes and away from the established supermini, family hatch, medium range saloon hierarchy.
The Qashqai+2 seven-seat model hit the street in 2008 bringing more practicality to the range. The N-Tec trim level arrived in April 2009 with the Nissan Connect satellite navigation and control system.
A facelift early in 2010 brought tweaks to the suspension and improvements to the refinement of the Qashqai. The styling was altered too with a more aggressive front-end and LED lights at the rear. A Puredrive model was also introduced based in the 1.5 dCi diesel but with modifications lowering CO2 missions to 129g/km.