The car 500 are waiting to buy
AS many as 500 people are waiting -- yes, waiting -- to buy a car.
And we're in the middle of a recession -- and in the middle of the year when the sales glut is supposed to be over.
They are waiting for a new Nissan Qashqai, the 'soft-roader' all-in-one family-car-cum-whatever-you-want that has been in heavy demand since being rolled out around three years ago.
And we're not unique in Ireland. Such is the demand across Europe that the factory that makes the car, at Sunderland in England, is gearing up to go on three shifts to meet orders.
And just to add an extra bit of zest to the combination they've gone and given it a mid-life facelift. Aficionados will notice a new-look front (new headlights, upper grille, front bumper, bonnet front wing. 16ins and 17ins alloy design) among other fresh elements.
But most of all you will notice how much quieter it is in the cabin -- they have really worked hard at suppressing engine noise. Not that it was ever intrusive, as I remember.
But it is obviously a big noise in the only place it matters -- the marketplace. Any car that has 500 waiting to buy it must have something going for it.
I don't suppose the other car we looked at and drove yesterday will sell 500 in the next 50 years but by golly was it fun.
The new Nissan 370Z performance coupe has all the rasp and race of a cracking drive, especially when you change down the gears through the steering-mounted paddles. It's a wonderful V6 (a mere 328bhp) with a top speed of 250kmh and an 0-100 kmh time of 5.3 seconds (for the 6spd manual; 5.6 for the auto). Standard equipment includes 19ins alloys, leather seats and Bose audio system. They will import the cars on a customer order basis (there will be a roadster from January). Realistically they expect to sell up to 20 a year. As I say it'll never catch the Qashqai on sales but little else on the road would catch this for dash.
It's shaping up to be a big year for Nissan. Their 'urban jungle' vehicle, the Juke, arrives in September. Significantly, the new Micra gets here at the end of October. Hard to believe there are more than 46,000 Micras on the roads here as of now. Well, considering how long the name has been around and how well they've shaped up over the years, perhaps it isn't.
They expect to sell around 4,000 of the new ones here next year.
The next generation X-Trail, in other words a mid-life revision, gets here in December -- a month after the Murano SUV with a diesel engine arrives in November.
As we've already revealed the Leaf electric family car is arriving February. The list price is €34,995 which cuts to €29,995 after the government subsidy (and this price includes battery). There is a refundable deposit of €232. Nissan say 31 of the 47 dealers want the franchise.
I wonder, will we ever see the day when there is a waiting list for a Leaf?