At the Paris auto show this September, Nissan revealed the newest addition to their European lineup, and VehicleVoice and AutoPacific were on hand for the introduction. The Qashqai four-door crossover SUV goes into production at Nissan’s plant in Sunderland, U.K., in December 2006 and on sale in Europe in early 2007. A version known as Dualis will go on sale in Japan during 2007 as well, and if the illustration Automotive News has published of the Rogue’s rear taillight is any indication (click here), the vehicle joining Nissan’s 2008 U.S. lineup is very much like the Qashqai, if not identical. Nissan USA has announced that a U.S. small crossover, with at least the concept wearing the name Rogue, will be revealed at the 2007 North American International Auto Show in January.
We had the opportunity to take an up-close look at the Qashqai in Paris. Though taking photos at show stands can frequently be challenging, the Qashqai was among the most mobbed cars at the show, for reasons I’m not sure I get. It was never without lots of people checking it over top to bottom and inside out, with Nissan having several examples on the stand and giving easy access to them. Though clearly lots of folks were interested, I didn’t think styling was impressive in person. The interior is nicely laid out and promises to help reverse Nissan’s reputation for new models with poor interior materials.
Renault is also planning to offer a version of this vehicle, which has a joint Renault-Nissan platform underneath, and the Renaul Koleos concept seemed to have more presence in the tin than Qashqai. Of course, the Renault was shown in concept form and is likely to be toned down for production.
Though none of these entries are planned for sale in the North American market, each brought something interesting to the show this year. Renault looks to refine a new approach to the luxury segment, as conservative as the Avantime was not, and Citroen and Peugeot explore alternative powertrains in large luxury coupe-looking sedans.
Renault is not expected to build this two-door, four-seat vehicle, though its headlights and grille could appear on future Renaults. Also of interest is the powertrain, a 3.5L twin-turbo V6 delivering 420HP through a seven-speed automatic transmission. The V6 is an evolution of Nissan’s VQ engine family and it is likely that a seven-speed automatic will find its way into Nissan and Renault model lines sooner rather than later.
Definitely one of the best-looking products in all four Paris show halls, the 908RC previews the styling direction for the next iteration of Peugeot flagship, 608. As with Nepta, there’s something interesting about the powertrain. In this case, the 700HP 5.5L V12 diesel is due to be used in Peugeot’s next Le Mans attempt. If Audi can do it, why can’t Peugeot?
Aside from the terrifically deep red paint, which looked far better in person than in photos, this concept felt overdone. Instead of predicting Citroen styling, however, the star is under the hood. Citroen is looking to have a diesel-hybrid in their range in 2010, and the C-Metisse (and Metisse means hybrid in French, by the way) sported a 208HP 3.0L V6 diesel with electric motors supporting it. The motors were at the rear wheels, and good for 20HP each.
Sports Car Concepts Reach Production
Three years ago, in September 2003, there were two head-turning concept stars at the Frankfurt auto show. This year, the Paris auto show (Mondial de l’Automobile) hosted introductions of both in production form. Both are low volume propositions, both borrow chassis from related low-volume models, both offer 420HP V8 engines, but each takes a different personality. One is the German all-wheel-drive, mid-engine Audi R8 and the other the front-engine, rear-drive Alfa Romeo 8C Competizione.
The good news is that North America will see the R8. Unfortunately, the Alfa is a tease. Though the brand intends to return to the North American market, the limited-edition 8C is not among the expected products.