2006 Paris Motor Show:

Nissan Qashqai: A Rogue In European Clothing?

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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.

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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.
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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.
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Dodge Avenger Gets European Reveal

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At this year’s Paris Motor Show (public days are early October 2006, after a press preview in late September), Dodge will reveal the direction for its next-generation Stratus, a sedan sized for the European D-segment and North American mid-size market. Ahead of the official launch, Dodge released teaser information and photos, and VehicleVoice and AutoPacific are here to share them with you. (Since publication, we’ve added photos we took at the Paris reveal to the stock pictures initially posted.)

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When the production version arrives, which is expected in spring 2007 in the States and summer or fall in Europe, it will continue the North American Dodge Stratus’ relationship to the Chrysler Sebring. This means production continues in Sterling Heights, Michigan, and the platform is the Chrysler Group’s new D platform, which borrows much from the Dodge Caliber and Jeep Patriot and Compass.
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Avenger Name Replaces Stratus
Naming this concept Avenger all but confirms that long-standing rumors about dropping the Stratus name in favor of Avenger are true. This 2006 near-production model has little to do with the 2003 Avenger concept (remember this?), but picks up cues from all over the current Dodge car lineup (Magnum, Charger, Caliber). The result we hope looks better in person than in these initial photos, which are not particularly flattering. But it does look very much like its Charger sedan stablemate.
Chrysler’s new Sebring goes on sale in October 2006 and shares a platform, powertrains, and assembly space with the new mid-size Dodge, no matter what the name. The Sebring offers the new global 152HP 2.0L and 172HP 2.4L I4s, an updated 182HP 2.7L V6, a 235HP 3.5L V6, and a 2.0L diesel, depending on market. The diesel and 2.0L gasoline I4 are offered in international markets only. North America gets the 2.4L I4 and both V6 units. Dodge is likely to offer the same lineup. Dodge is working to create a space for themselves in Europe, and whether called Avenger or Stratus, this D-segment sedan is part of the mix.
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