New Nissan X-Trail to be launched in India; Qashqai, Juke being evaluated

    The X-Trail and Qashqai are being tested on Indian roads, with the former due for launch once that is complete.

    Published On Oct 18, 2022 12:22:00 PM

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    Nissan, in a show of commitment to the Indian market, has brought down three of its most popular international SUV models, with the new X-Trail due for a launch a little down the line. The latest versions of the Juke and Qashqai have also been shown in New Delhi, with the latter being tested on Indian roads.

    • All models being evaluated as low-volume CBU imports
    • e-Power range-extender hybrid could be a key advantage
    • X-Trail and Qashqai being tested on Indian roads

    Nissan X-Trail to be launched after testing completes

    While the Japanese brand has said it’s showing all three, and testing two of these SUVs, the X-Trail will be launched in India first. The SUV was sold here in its first and second-generation guises, and though it never went on sale, the third-generation model was showcased here a few years ago, much like this latest, fourth-gen model is today. Clearly, it has always been on the cards.

    The Nissan X-Trail is a premium executive SUV, available in either 5-seat or 7-seat guises, that rivals the likes of the Volkswagen Tiguan and Skoda Kodiaq. The latest version is built on Renault-Nissan’s CMF-C platform and while it is offered overseas with a 2.5-litre petrol engine or a 1.5-litre turbo-petrol mild-hybrid powertrain, it’s got a unique ace up its sleeve in the form of the 1.5 e-Power option.

    e-Power is Nissan parlance for a range-extender hybrid, which will be a unique and interesting option in India where EVs are taking off and strong hybrids are now coming into the spotlight. Essentially an EV, powered only by an electric motor, it has a 1.5-litre petrol engine that only exists as a generator, to charge the batteries. The engine never drives the wheels and, as a result, is used sparingly, leading to potentially superb fuel economy, without range anxiety or the need to charge the vehicle with a plug.

    The Nissan X-Trail e-Power is even available in 2WD and AWD versions, the former producing 204hp and 330Nm, the latter with 213hp and 500Nm, although which of these versions Nissan is considering remains to be seen.

    Nissan has specifically referenced the mild-hybrid and e-Power variants in its showcase, and the latter could give the X-Trail a unique leg up on its rivals. Also, being a premium executive SUV, the price premium will be easier to digest and less aggressive than in the more competitive segments of smaller SUVs. The Kodiaq is a CBU import too, after all.

    Nissan Qashqai and Juke also showcased

    The other two Nissan SUVs on display were the Qashqai and Juke, also hugely popular in international markets. The 5-seat Qashqai is a bit smaller than the X-Trail and globally rivals the likes of the Jeep Compass or Hyundai Tucson. Using the same basic underpinnings as the X-Trail, the third-generation Qashqai also gets the options of turbo-petrol mild-hybrid and e-Power variants. The former uses the 156hp, 1.3-litre engine from the Nissan Kicks, aided by an electric motor and paired with a CVT or a 6-speed manual. The latter is a less powerful version of the fuel-saving range-extender tech than offered in the X-Trail, producing 190hp and 330Nm.

    The second-generation Nissan Juke is the least likely to be launched here, and Nissan says it is only showing it to gauge interest. Its funky, curvaceous design can be polarising, but it is definitely head turning, and that’s something that could work in its favour. It’s powered by a 1.6-litre turbo-petrol strong hybrid system, which means it brings the promise of incredibly high fuel economy, much like we’ve seen with the Toyota Hyryder and Maruti Suzuki Grand Vitara.

    The Juke’s 4.2-metre length might technically make it fall into the hugely popular midsize SUV segment in India, but it is nowhere near as spacious as the likes of the Nissan Kicks, and in international markets, the positioning is very different.

    What is the plan for Nissan India?

    Nissan currently sells the Magnite compact SUV and the Kicks midsize SUV in India, with the latter unlikely to be around for much longer owing to its ageing platform that would need a serious upgrade to meet future safety norms. Moreover, its platform-siblings, the Terrano, Duster, Captur and Lodgy, are also no longer around, making this endeavour even more costly for Nissan. And with Datsun also discontinued, this effectively makes Nissan a one-model brand and that certainly would not have been viable.

    With no new mass-market models coming in the short term, then, this move to bring in CBU imported global models is a good one. It shows the brand’s commitment to India, and that it’s not afraid to dig into its vast and strong portfolio of international models.

    “The Indian market has boundless potential, and it is critical that we introduce the best vehicle line-up to align with what modern Indian consumers want and need,” said Frank Torres, president, Nissan India. “Following the success of the Nissan Magnite in India, we plan to strengthen our focus and leverage our expertise on high-quality SUVs that have become synonymous with our reputation.”

    There is, however, a reason global models can’t easily be dragged and dropped into India and that’s because they are built to a much higher cost, which just isn’t competitive in our price-sensitive market. It’s why we had an entirely different Renault Captur to the European model, and though similar in look, our VW Taigun is not the same as the European VW T-Cross.

    That’s where the low-volume CBU route comes in. As long as imports are kept under the 2,500-unit cap, Nissan can save the cost (and time) required to homologate the vehicles in India. However, import duties are still preposterously high, and along with the aforementioned higher build cost, it will be difficult to get any of these SUVs to be priced competitively. As mentioned, the X-Trail stands the best chance, thanks to the segment it is in, but the case will be much harder for the Qashqai and Juke, especially given their complex and expensive hybrid powertrains in cost-sensitive SUV segments.

    Still, it’s exciting to see a company show three brand-new international models with at least the intention of an Indian market evaluation, and it will be interesting to see how competitively Nissan can price the X-Trail once it is launched.

    Also See:

    Nissan X-Trail image gallery 

    Nissan Qashqai image gallery

    Nissan Juke image gallery

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