Nissan Motor is in the final testing phase of its third generation Qashqai crossover (Rogue Sport in the US) ahead of its European launch in spring 2021.
Over 3m units have been sold in Europe alone since the first generation went on sale in 2007 and the third generation has accounted for over 1m and counting.
The new model will be built on the new Alliance CMF-C platform and add a range extender hybrid option branded e-Power.
Like its predecessors, the styling of the new Qashqai was led by Nissan Design Europe, based in Paddington, London, while engineering was led by the Nissan Technical Centre Europe, in Cranfield, Bedfordshire.
“For this new iteration, Nissan has retained the guiding principles that have driven the concept, design and development of the two previous generations of Qashqai: elegant design, enhanced packaging and efficient powertrain, combined with elevated quality and a driving experience from a higher segment,” the automaker said. “The new Qashqai will again raise the bar in the crossover segment and customers will savour those attributes.”
The new Qashqai is the first new model in Europe to use the CMF-C platform. Central to the engineering concept was to retain the current Qashqai’s proportions, which are “just right” and key in its success, meaning it comfortably navigates urban roads and fits comfortably in parking spaces, while also giving excellent interior space.
The body in white makes use of more lightweight material, as well as advanced stamping and welding techniques to increase strength but to also reduce weight. The rear hatchback door is now made of a composite material which saves 2.6kg.
Use of Nissan’s Ultra High Strength Steel application (UHSS) has increased by 50% in the structure. The UHSS material ensures the highest possible tensile strength in the body structure where it is needed, as part of the crash structure but without a significant weight penalty. Traditionally, higher tensile strength materials pose problems in welding or joining to other parts of the structure. With the new body in white, structural bonding has been used to form a high strength reinforcement and bond where the A-, B- and C-pillars join the roof and floor pan.
The front and rear doors, front fenders and hood, are all now made of aluminium, which offers a weight saving, when taken all together, of 21kg over the out-going generation’s body in white.
The base structure of the CMF-C platform has been updated to a more homogenous shape, in order to better transmit an impact through the structure. This will have the effect of the structure absorbing the energy more effectively in the crumple zones, reducing the potential load transmitted to the occupants in the event of an accident.
Overall body in white is lighter by 60kg and 41% stiffer than the outgoing model. This translates to refinement, ride comfort and driving response from a higher segment, plus exceptional security in the event of an accident, as well as having benefits to the car’s overall efficiency, Nissan claims.
The new Qashqai has an updated Macpherson strut suspension front and rear. For two-wheel drive models specified up to and including 19″ wheels, rear suspension is a torsion beam configuration. For 20″ wheels and all-wheel drive versions, a multi link set up is fitted.
The torsion beam installation offers improved bump absorption and road noise suppression and spring and damper have been changed to a vertical alignment which allows them to work in their optimal stroke range for more controlled response to bumps and shocks and to minimise rebound for improved ride.
The multi link rear suspension is now mounted to the subframe by bushes, which reduce road noise and vibrations. Power steering has been upgraded, offering improved response, better feel around the central part of the steering range and reduced friction.
David Moss, Nissan’s R&D chief for Africa, Middle East, India, Europe and Oceania (AMIEO), said: “Our engineering team has benchmarked a cross-section of C-segment hatchbacks, as well as direct competitor vehicles, and through thousands of kilometres of testing on roads and test facilities throughout Europe, have achieved a ride and handling balance which places driving pleasure at the heart of the experience.”
Over the first two generations, Qashqai engine sizes and complexity have been reduced (also the case with the smaller Juke which now has just one option). As with Juke, diesel is gone and the third generation will have just two powertrains – a 1.3 litre petrol engine (with two outputs, according to tune) and mild hybrid (MHEV) technology. The 1.3-litre has been extensively updated to include the MHEV system. The 12v system incorporates a separate lithium battery installation mounted under the floor and belt driven generator to harvest braking energy. This allows the engine’s systems to run on harvested energy, extending the duration of the stop/start function which reduces the engine’s overall CO2 emissions. Additionally, it allows coasting and also offers torque support under acceleration.
The new Qashqai will be the first Nissan in Europe with the e-Power drive system already offered in some other markets. This offers full electric motor drive and combines a high-output battery and powertrain integrated with petrol engine, power generator, inverter and a motor. The petrol engine is not connected to the wheels – it simply charges the battery. The key difference compared with conventional hybrids – such as Toyota’s RAV4 and the Honda CR-V – is the electric motor is the size of one typically found in a pure EV, giving the instant acceleration response which is so popular among EV customers. The engine-driven generator maintains the battery charge, but can also provide electricity directly to the motor for additional power. The engine operates at an optimal RPM range promoting maximum fuel efficiency while being tuned to minimise noise and provide a natural, connected feel during hard acceleration.
“For customers, e-Power brings that distinctive instant and linear acceleration feeling, delivering a fun-to-drive experience but without the range anxiety. This is the perfect transition into EV driving especially for high mileage drivers who will love the combination of convenience and refinement, as well as the car’s eco-efficiency,” the automaker said.
The new Qashqai has a flat floor, which ensures the smoothest possible airflow underneath the car – and an active grille shutter which remains closed to ensure the air passes around the front of the car as cleanly as possible. It only opens when the cooling needs of the engine require it, allowing extra air to enter the radiators in order to cool it.
The new Qashqai will have the next generation of ProPilot driver assistance. Now called ProPilot with Navi-link, the system is able to accelerate and brake the vehicle within a single lane on a highway. It can accelerate the vehicle to cruise at a set speed, and can brake the vehicle down to 0km/h in heavy stop start traffic. The system is able to resume automatically if the vehicle has been stationary for less than three seconds and the traffic in front of the car moves away. The steering system and the camera are constantly updating the vehicle’s position, helping the car to stay centred within the lane while maintaining a predetermined speed but with the capability to adapt and maintain a safe distance to the car in front. On the new Qashqai, the updated system is now able to adapt the car’s speed according to additional external circumstances: when the car crosses to a lower speed limit zone on the highway, the system is able to read road signs and take into account navigation system speed limit data to slow the car to the appropriate speed. The system can also use data from the navigation system to adjust the speed for approaching curves or exit ramps that have a tighter radius.
The system also can now communicate with the blind spot radars to help intervene with a steering input correction to help prevent a lane change manoeuvre if there is a vehicle in the blind spot zone.
Other upgrades include a ‘flank protection’ warning for urban situations, which alerts the driver of the risk of contact with an object on the side of the vehicle, typically when turning into a supermarket parking space. And the new system can also intervene to prevent a collision upon reversing from the space thanks to an upgrade on the existing Moving Object Detection alert, applying the brakes to stop the car if a moving obstacle is detected nearby.
ProPilot with Navi-link will be available from the mid-level N-Connecta grade.
Intelligent LED headlights
The current Qashqai has been equipped with LED lights on upper grades since its launch in 2014, and those on the top-grade Tekna version swivel to follow the road in response to steering wheel inputs. The new Qashqai has a headlight system that adapts the shape of the beam according to the road conditions and other road users. The beam is divided into 12 individual elements that selectively deactivate upon detection of an oncoming vehicle. It can project a brighter beam further and wider, but the shape effectively changes so oncoming road users will not be dazzled.