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Nissan Qashqai: A Rogue In European Clothing?

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.


What do we know about Rogue?
Though the European car offers more (and smaller) four-cylinder engine options, Nissan’s U.S. version will get a 2.5L four-cylinder engine, likely the 170HP unit from the Altima. Assuming similar dimensions as the Qashqai, the Rogue will have a wheelbase of 103.5 inches, near that of the myriad of compact car-based SUVs already available, including Hyundai’s Tuscon, Kia’s Sportage, Jeep’s Patriot and Compass, Chevy’s HHR, Chrysler’s PT Cruiser, and Honda’s Element. The European car has an overall length of 169.7 inches, but tweaks to meet U.S. bumper standards could easily mean a longer length for the States.


With a 170HP engine, its power output will be squarely in the compact SUV range, where the Jeep products offer 172HP I4 engines, the Hyundai and Kia offer a V6 with 173HP, the Chevy HHR offers a choice between 140HP and 175HP I4 engines, and Honda’s Element gets 166HP. Though PT Cruiser gets more power, with their Turbo models getting 230HP, the PT’s standard variations offer 130HP and 180HP. As is true of most of the new-for-2007MY Nissan products, a CVT is likely to be offered and may be the only transmission available.
Based on our look at the Qashqai on display in Paris, Nissan has a strong chance of entering the segment with a credible product. The only question is, with so many available and so many new additions, how will Nissan distinguish its Rogue from the pack?

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