Taller and slightly longer than a Golf, the Qashqai will also be available in four-wheel drive
Presented for the first time as its new "Compact Crossover for Europe", the Qashqai was unveiled at an event hosted in Paris by Carlos Ghosn, Nissan's president and CEO.
Inspired by the concept car of the same name that was presented at the 2004 Geneva Motor Show, the Qashqqai (pronounced "cash - kai") is a new vehicle for Nissan in Europe, with sales starting in February 2007.
It will cater for those car buyers who want a more dynamic design than that offered by a traditional C-segment car, but who are not attracted to the large, aggressive nature of a compact SUV.
The design of the car was led by Nissan Design Europe (NDE) and it represents the first new production vehicle to be designed at NDE since its move to London in 2003.
The development programme was led by Nissan Technical Centre Europe based in Cranfield, England, with significant input from Nissan's engineering base in Japan.
Possibly for SA
As well as European sales, Qashqai will also be exported from the Sunderland factory to Japan - where it will be named Dualis - the Middle East and additional overseas markets.
It is possible South Africa will be one of these markets, and we might even see the car at Auto Africa in Johannesburg in October.
The Qashqai is described as a crossover as it inhabits the area where passenger car attributes meet those of a 4x4.
In terms of design, the top half of Qashqai is reminiscent of a passenger car, with a sleek, dynamic form that features a distinctive shoulder line which rises at the rear - a design cue similar to that of the Murano.
The lower portion of the car suggests SUV attributes of strength and solidity thanks to large, pronounced wheel arches, slightly elevated ground clearance and a purposeful stance.
The interior has been designed to give the driver a focused cockpit feeling, with a clear separation between them and their passenger.
The deeply recessed instruments give a sporty feeling to the driving environment - a feeling reinforced by the raised central console. However, the front and passenger environments have been designed to feel airy, spacious and relaxing.
Larger than a Golf
In terms of size, Qashqai sits between C-segment hatchbacks and SUVs
It has a wheelbase of 2630mm, it is 1 610mm tall, 1 780mm wide and 4 310mm long - about 100mm longer than a typical hatchback but 150mm shorter than a typical SUV.
Similarly, it is taller than rival hatchbacks by between 100-150mm yet up to 130mm lower than an SUV.
Four engine options will be available, two diesel and two petrol offerings.
The 1.6-litre petrol offers 86 kW of power and 160 Nm of torque, while the 2-litre produces 105 kW and 200 Nm. The diesel engine options - 1.5- and 2-litre - provide 79 kW and 112 kW with 240 and 320 Nm of torque respectively.
Several gearbox options are available, according to engine choice. These include a five- and six-speed manual, a new six-speed automatic and a Continuously Variable Transmission (CVT) option with manual mode.
Both 2-litre engine options can be specified with Nissan's advanced ALL-MODE 4x4 system which gives added security and stability in marginal conditions.
Speaking at the launch event in Paris, Ghosn said: "We expect Qashqai will sell more than 100 000 units a year on average across Europe - with 80% of those customers buying a Nissan for the first time.
"Before Qashqai, they would have driven a premium C-segment car, a compact 4x4 or a D-segment car."