Thursday 18 January 2018

Restyled and refreshed models will put a smile on Nissan's 'family face'

The company aims to be the top-selling Asian motor manufacturer in Europe within two years, says Martin Brennan

MARKET: Nissan Pulsar will rival the VW Golf and Ford Focus
MARKET: Nissan Pulsar will rival the VW Golf and Ford Focus

Martin Brennan

TIMES could not be better for Nissan. The restyled Qashqai is still a top seller, the new Note has lost its van-like looks and is now full of big car technology, a refreshed high-tech Juke will be here in July and a totally new X-Trail is also on the way.

And if that is not enough to lift the spirits of Nissan dealers, an Almera replacement is on the way next year. Nissan has been hurt badly in sales by the absence of a model to rival Golf and Focus in the big selling medium-sized family car market. But now a new Pulsar, in hatchback format initially (the Corolla saloon running alongside the Auris is a big seller for Toyota), is on the way as Nissan aims to be the top-selling Asian motor manufacturer in Europe within the next two years.

The new family model has been designed and engineered in Europe and should have top levels of interior space as it has the longest wheelbase in its class, giving it almost 700mm of rear legroom, as big as many models in the Mondeo/Passat league.

The latest Nissan safety and in-car technology will also be installed to make up for the seven-year gap in the market since the Almera models disappeared. Nissan's safety shield technology, which covers lane departure warning, moving object detection and blind spot warning, is available and will be included in some versions of the X-Trail and Juke also.

All Nissan models now get the 'family face', the V-grille and sculpted bonnet so the Pulsar will be easily recognisable as a Nissan and the ascending beltline goes all the way to a large boot area. Like all manufacturers these days, Nissan/Renault has its own platform that can accommodate several models and the Pulsar will be built in Barcelona on a variation of the unit that is used in the X-Trail and Qashqai.

Engines available will be a 1.2 litre petrol unit with 115bhp output and a 110bhp 1.5 diesel unit which has proved to be highly economical. These engines will also be available in the Juke and X-Trail and a new 1.6 litre unit will be here next year for all models.

The X-Trail will be in the showrooms in time for the mid-year expected jump in sales when the 142 number plates take off. This latest version is a fusion of Crossover and SUV and might be looked upon as a 'Big Brother' of Qashqai, which it is not.

It is spacious, with 20 per cent more interior room than the previous model yet despite the bulky body it is 70kg lighter. The spacious body-hugging seats will be a crowd pleaser with the second and third row tiered to give a theatre view.

Safety shield technology is also available and automatic parallel and reverse parking will be welcome for those using a big vehicle in congested urban streets. The X-Trail will win new friends for its comfort and safety features and behind the wheel, there a good high driving position. It handles all road surfaces well and there are no nasty surprises on corners.

The Juke was launched four years ago and the mixture of Crossover, SUV and Coupe styling initially got a mixed reception but the quirky design pushed it over 5000,000 sales and it is now the second best seller behind the Qashqai.

The new model gets new lights and bumpers with matching colour schemes for interior and exterior. There are cabin improvements also and cargo capacity is up 40 per cent to 354 litres. Safety shield and in-car connectivity is available.

Starting prices for the new Juke will be just north of €20k while for the X-Trail they will be just south of €30k. The Pulsar will have to compete strongly against the VW Golf and Ford Focus.

Sunday Independent

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