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2014 Nissan Qashqai Dualis revealed

Nissan has revealed the first images and details for the new Qashqai (currently called the Dualis here), with a sportier design, more efficient engines, and fittings and features that move the softroader SUV upmarket.

Australian spec has not been confirmed yet for the local launch in the third quarter of next year. However the Qashqai will roll out overseas with a choice of two and four-wheel drive and four turbocharged engine choices with manual and CVT transmissions. However it's only being produced as a five-seater -- there'll be no replacement for the Dualis+2 in the current line-up, leaving the next X-Trail to take over seven-seat duties.

The economy hero is the 81kW 1.5-litre diesel promising a fuel figure as low as 3.8L/100km, followed by the 86kW 1.6-litre (4.4L/100km), while the 85kW/190Nm 1.2-litre and 110kW/240NM 1.6-litre petrol engines both claim 5.6L/100km on the European combined cycle. Nissan's race arm, Nismo, is also tinkering with its own version of the Qashqai, due to be launched mid next year overseas.

Nissan Australia is likely to want the frugal diesel on its line-up, but have not yet confirmed which engines they'll bring here.  "There’s a few options over there and it's too early to say what we’ll have -- but we're looking at all of them closely," Nissan Australia spokesman Chris Jordan says. "More specification information will be confirmed next year closer to the local launch."

For those wanting to drive all four wheels rather than just the front ones, there's Nissan's ALL-MODE 4x4 system, which also gets a multi-link rear suspension (the 2WDs get a twist-beam rear set-up). Both get chassis control and trace control adapted from the sports hero GT-R to mimic a limited slip differential, active ride control to smooth out ride quality, active trace control that mimics a limited slip diff, and the automatic versions score active engine braking to give better cornering.

The Qashqai design echoes that of the X-Trail unveiled at this year's Frankfurt show, both inside and out, with a handsome slanted grille, full LED headights on high spec and daytime running lights for all, plus Nissan says it has a higher-quality interior with softer plastics.

The technology fit-out features a 7-inch touchscreen, smartphone connectivity with a range of apps on the way and the ability for you to plan a trip on your device and send it to the Qashqai's satnav. There's an arsenal of safety kit, including low-speed automatic braking, lane departure and fatigue warnings, traffic sign recognition and on high-spec models a 360-degree camera and automatic parking.

It's longer, wider and lower than the Dualis, with Nissan promising more leg and shoulder room, and no loss of headroom with the redesigned seating being sited lower to compensate for the dropped roofline. The boot offers an extra 20 litres for a 430-litre capacity, with a moveable (and hosable) floor that can be slotted higher to give a flat floor when the rear row is folded down.

Jordan says it's also too early to see if Australia will follow the UK's lead in trying to keep the new vehicle's prices close to the outgoing model. However you can expect Nissan will look to price the Qasqai stragically here in what Jordan admits is a fierce market. "It's a very competitive segment and Dualis has done well for us here ... we're keen to grow that success with the Qashqai," he says.

He also doesn't envisage Nissan Australia having any fallout from the change to the global name -- a situation they faced when rechristening the previously popular Pulsar with the global Tiida name, and then watching it slump in sales, wit the Pulsar name revived only this year. "We believe strongly in this product, and this time around we have been able to speak to our colleague in Europe, the UK and New Zealand who report the Qashqai name has resonated with customers there," he says.

This reporter is on Twitter: @KarlaPincott


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