The Nissan Qashqai was initially conceived for the European market. Over there, the Japanese car maker was having a hard time trying to shift its mid-sized hatchback models from the forecourt as car buyers tend to prefer the traditional Volkswagen Golf or Ford Focus. With the Qashqai, Nissan hoped that it could give buyers an alternative to the traditional hatchback in the form of a similarly sized five-door model with SUV looks and driving position, a bit of a pseudo SUV so to speak.
Four years on and the Qashqai has proved that it was a major success. The Qashqai was recently put through a mild facelift but the bigger news for Nissan's compact crossover is the addition of a stretched version that offers an extra row of seats aptly called the Qashqai+2.
In terms of looks, the Qashqai certainly makes the cut as a hatchback/SUV crossover. The biggest styling updates are at the front where the nose gets a new bumper, radiator grille and more distinctive upswept headlamps. The updates certainly give the Qashqai a more handsome and contemporary face.
Along the sides, the influences from its Murano big brother are rather obvious, especially in the rear pillar treatment. At 4,541mm in length, the Qashqai+2 is a noticeable 211mm longer than the standard model. The wheelbase has been stretched by 135mm compared to the five-seater model while the roofline has been reprofiled to facilitate sufficient headroom for third row passengers.
At the back, the Qashqai looks pretty neat as well thanks to those new wraparound tail lamps that ape the latest Murano's. There are SUV inspired details everywhere like the plastic mouldings around the wheel arches and the bumper as well as the chunky high profile tyres. In addition, the Qashqai+2 comes standard with roof rails for an even more purposeful stance.
The Qashqai's from and rear overhangs prove that it is not made to do any hill climbing while the ride height is significantly higher than a standard hatchback like a Golf, it isn't as generous as say, a Land Rover Feelander 2. All in all though, the Qashqai+2 cuts a very smart and neat look that should appeal to both urbanites and rugged types.