Nissan is a market leader in South Africa, but internationally the brand had slumped in the last few years. But following the upheavals in top management and tensions in the alliance they share with Renault and Mitsubishi, Nissan has finally upped its game again with some exciting new SUVs.
The Nissan Kicks is an example of new doing well, increasing sales by 150% in 2019 compared to the previous year. This still-new compact crossover plays in the same crowded space as the Ford Ecosport and Kia Soul.
Nissan is set to introduce three brand-new SUVs internationally this year. Much anticipated is the third-generation Qashqai (Europe), expected at the 2020 Paris Motor Show in September. Styling will be influenced by the new Nissan Juke. There are rumours of a new hybrid version, as well as a plug-in hybrid based on the Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV. The Qashqai is called the Rogue Sport in the US, and that had recently received a minor facelift. Time will tell when the new Qashqai will cross the Atlantic as the new Rogue Sport.
There is also a new X-Trail expected, with a brand-new interior and exterior reflecting the latest Nissan sedans. Technology will also be significantly updated. Confusingly the X-Trail is called the Rogue (not Sport) in the US, and that model has been around since 2013. So time for a new one, and we would expect the X-Trail to also cross to the water.
The third, and potentially most exciting new SUV, will be the all-electric offering based on the Ariya SUV Concept shown at Tokyo and CES. Insider talk is that the new model will not differ much from the Ariya. The range is expected to be near the 500km mark and performance in the sports-car range. The Ariya shows a much leaner design, significantly smoother with fewer of the angles and creases we find in other current Nissans. It has two electric motors front and back and a floor-mounted battery pack.
There are several pointers to the new SUV being very much the Ariya as is. Firstly, the Ariya is based on the 2017 IMx Concept. Nissan tends to denote futuristic concepts with IM, and only start giving it a name once nearer to production. There are even reports that Nissan has trademarked the Ariya name, at least in the US.
Secondly, the Ariya looks like a production car. Concepts usually just hint at details and its proportions bear very little resemblance to real life. The Ariya has real door handles and mirrors and the overall proportions fit actual people. Even the wheels are realistically sized.
Inside it is the same feeling of a finished product. The dashboard features two large display screens with touch controls. It has an electronic shifter on the central console and current tech such as over-the-air firmware updates and phone-to-car navigation. Our verdict: Nice!
These exciting developments are now happening in the major international markets and we cannot tell when we will see them here. But in the meantime, feel free to browse the range of Nissan SUVs currently on our showroom floors.