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August 01, 2013
Nissan’s Alliance partner Renault has just celebrated a super-successful first year of the Duster in the Indian market, and we’re just weeks away from the reveal of the new Nissan Terrano. But that’s not where the SUV onslaught stops. Nissan is reportedly working hard to bring in the Euro-market Qashqai crossover to sit above the Terrano in the company’s Indian line-up.

Nissan’s executive vice president Andy Palmer has said that the company is “going after the Indian market like a steam train”, and along with launching the Datsun brand, it is also focussing on expanding the Nissan model line-up. The company was earlier considering the Sylphy, a saloon to take on the likes of the Toyota Corolla, as its offering in the Rs. 12-20 lakh segment. But given the decline of that segment in India and the increasing popularity of SUVs, those plans have been scrapped in favour of the Qashqai.

In fact, SUVs are a big part of Nissan’s Indian future, with the X-trail in line for Indian local assembly, and the company’s luxury brand Infiniti waiting in the wings with its range of attractive SUVs too.

So what about the Qashqai? It is not a full-blooded off-roader, of course – instead, like the Duster and upcoming Terrano, it uses a regular car platform with raised ground clearance. However, what matters first in India is the appearance, and on that front, the Qashqai delivers. It isn’t very aggressive, but it does bear all the familiar, good looking styling cues of newer Nissans like the recently facelifted Micra.

In Europe, the car is available with a range of four-cylinder petrol and diesel engines (including the popular Renault 1.5-litre K9K diesel), with either front-wheel drive or four-wheel drive, automatic or manual transmissions, and five- or seven-seat configurations, but it remains to be seen which combination Nissan zeroes in on for our market. The best part, though, is while the Duster and Terrano are upgraded versions of a budget SUV, the Qashqai has been designed from the word go as a premium product, so you can expect good quality and lots of equipment.

If everything is green-lighted according to plan, we could see the Qashqai in Indian showrooms as early as next year.