The Nissan Qashqai, probably the most British of the Japanese cars on sale, a top seller for the last 10 years and the car that defined the crossover sector, has a new look. Martyn Collins spoke to Nissan GB managing director Alex Smith about his fleet thoughts for the new Nissan Qashqai in such an exploding area of the market.
- The Qashqai invented the crossover sector and is a consistent top seller, but what do you think are the key features of the new Nissan Qashqai that will attract fleet buyers?
“Qashqai did define the segment, it’s still the number one seller and it has been pretty life-cycle defining in the way its volumes developed over time – which is great.
“I think the key strengths of the new car builds on the strengths of what Qashqai’s always been – it has always been practical, it has always been versatile, it has offered more practicality than the standard C-hatchback, which for so long was the default choice in the fleet market.
“I think the sharpness of the exterior design, gives it a really fantastic road presence with the new headlamp LED signature and new design, really making it stand out.
“The detail that’s gone into this vehicle is tremendous, for example reprofiling the rear light clusters, to improve the airflow, aerodynamic efficiency and maintain the 99g/km CO2 rating of the 1.5 dCi engine. There’s been real thought, real detail that’s gone into this car, that may not be immediately visually apparent until it’s pointed out.
“So, what Qashqai gives, is a really sharp new exterior design, a real focus on the premium-ness and quality in the cabin and it’s a real step-up in terms of refinement over the old car.
“It’s a practical, efficient, good-looking and really well-thought out package.”
- The outgoing model was a big hit with fleet, do you think this will change with the new model, or will it be very much a fleet/retail mix and what model do you think is going to be key?
“One of things that I think is great with new Qashqai, is that because of the aerodynamic efficiency we’re able to offer a 99g/km car with 19-inch wheels, giving fantastic exterior appeal – we think it looks fantastic.
“I think for me what the key strength of Qashqai over the last few years is that its had appeal in every sector of the market. The practicality, the reliability, the confident drive, has appealed to retail customers, it’s been particularly strong in Motability, where the ease of entrance and exit has been particularly highly valued and again the practicality of the space in the front and rear and boot.
“I think one thing that we’ve seen with Qashqai, is that customers tend to go for a high-grade mix and that led us to introduce a new trim level for the latest models – the top Tekna+ trim grade which is going to be key with buyers. It takes the Qashqai’s interior and makes it even more premium. Its Nappa leather trim, new monoform front seats – it’s a really nice place to sit.
“Combine that with the new BOSE audio system and this really has become the ultimate Qashqai – appealing right across the market.
“I don’t see why the fleet/retail mix will change with the new model, it has been strong in retail, it has been strong in fleet, it has been strong in Motability, I think it will continue to have that breadth of appeal.”
- Do you think this Qashqai will mostly appeal to current Qashqai buyers, or do you still think there’s a chance for conquesting?
“Oh, there’s definitely a chance for conquesting. Again one of the strengths of Qashqai, is that there are a lot of Qashqai drivers in the UK, which means the product development can be customer-led — there’s lots of people to talk to and lots of owners’ opinions to take into account, when we decide what to address, when we update a vehicle.
“Also, I think we’ve still got a significant B-hatch segment, we’ve also got a significant C-hatch segment in this country and Qashqai doesn’t just conquest from other crossovers, it continues to conquest from basically every segment in the market.
“We expect to see a strong loyalty performance from Qashqai, as customers love their Qashqais and this is a material improvement and a big step as far as the vehicle is concerned.
But, yes we continue to conquest across the market with Qashqai.”
- Where do you think people are going to conquest from to the new Qashqai? Do you think it’s going to come from models launched after this Qashqai, or buyers stepping up or moving across from different sectors?
“It’s not a very helpful answer, but both – really with Qashqai it’s all of the above.
One of the strengths of Qashqai is that it conquests from many different brands and many different segments.”