Think of the Nissan Qashqai, and you’ll likely picture a capable - though unexciting small SUV. Lustworthy? Exclusive? Not particularly, though rumour has it Nissan is keen to change that.
According to a report in UK outlet Autocar, Nissan may take its mass-market SUV into premium territory with a special edition version based on the Qashqai Premium Concept, which was revealed at this year’s Geneva Motor Show boasting high-grade materials like Nappa leather and carbon fibre.
“The concept was designed to be feasible for production,” Darryl Scriven, design manager for the Qashqai Premium Concept, said to Autocar.
“Now we are working and adapting the authentic materials, like carbon fibre, Nappa leather and special paint, for a production future.
The concept featured unique lower body plastics with gold-coloured accents that matched its two-tone wheels, with that same copper/gold colour also finding its way into the headlamp housings.
Its track width had been widened by 20mm over a standard Qashqai to give it a more aggressive stance, with carbon fibre wheelarch extensions to match. A matte-black paint job gives the concept a sinister edge.
Inside, white Nappa leather upholstery with a unique quilted pattern is applied to the seats and door trims, with more gold accents around the gear selector and a unique steering wheel design.
Not all of those cosmetic additions will be feasible - or affordable - for a production variant, but Scriven says labour-intensive parts like the carbon fibre arches could conceivably be made in a faster and cheaper process.
Why is Nissan going to such efforts? Strong uptake of the top-spec Qashqai Tekna (which is unique to the UK market and costs over AU$60k) have prompted Nissan Europe to examine the business case for an upmarket model, which could potentially aim to take sales away from Euro rivals like the Audi Q3, BMW X1 and Mercedes-Benz GLA.
However, while Autocar says a debut for Nissan’s fancy Qashqai variant could occur as early as 2017, it has yet to be officially confirmed by the company. As for an Australian debut, don’t hold your breath...