Geneva Motor Show: Updated Nissan Qashqai set for ‘robot’ driving

Nissan’s big seller looks much the same but it’s getting ready for autonomous driving

New Nissan Qashqai: the innovation is underneath

New Nissan Qashqai: the innovation is underneath

 

The updated Nissan Qashqai has changed little in looks. There’s a new grille, which takes inspiration from the sharp-looking new Micra (yes, we just said that) and inside there’s a new flat-bottom steering wheel, some updates to the cabin trim and quality, leather options and a new touchscreen that, er, looks the same as before really.

 The engine range is also unchanged. You have the same choice of 1.2-litre and 1.6-litre petrol turbos and 1.5-litre and 1.6-litre turbo diesels.

 So what’s changed? Well, the tech that underpins the Qashqai has been given an upgrade and what happens next may be truly transformative, as Nissan is starting to give the Qashqai the ability to drive itself.

 For the moment, the only major change is that the existing autonomous emergency braking system gets pedestrian detection and a rear cross traffic alert to help when backing out of a space. However, the Qashqai is also going to be, very shortly, available with a self-driving system which will be able to take partial control on motorways and main roads (although as with similar systems on offer from Mercedes and Volvo, you still have to be alert and in control yourself). Next year, the system will be further upgraded to include lane-changing ability, but the big change is scheduled for 2020, when Nissan says that the system will be able to tackle difficult urban junctions all by itself. 

Industry first

Such tech is not exactly new, but arguably the Qashqai is the first major mainstream family car to commit to offering it on sale. “Since launch in 2007, the Qashqai has been at the heart of Nissan’s desire to democratise intelligent driving technology, enhancing drivers’ feelings of trust and being in control” said Nissan. “With the new Qashqai that commitment to customers is extended even further.”

 The Qashqai, in spite of increasing competition from Hyundai, Seat, Skoda, Peugeot, Kia and VW, is still a huge seller in Ireland. So far, it’s the second-bestselling car model in 2017, behind only the Hyundai Tucson and has registered a 14.8 per cent increase in its sales since this time last year. It’s likely the price of the Qashqai will increase slightly with this new model when it goes on sale in the summer, but will that put Irish buyers off? Or are we ready to start paying extra for high-tech, robotic driving options?