Mainstream media typically reports UK manufacturing in a downbeat way, but there is real strength in vehicle production.
Mainstream cars from Nissan, Honda, Toyota, Mini, Jaguar and Land Rover are built in the UK, and that’s without the top end manufacturers such as Rolls-Royce, Aston Martin and Bentley. Many of these and others also build engines in the UK.
Nissan has more than just a plant in the UK. It has European design and engineering centres here, and our newest addition to our long-term test fleet was its first car to be designed, engineered and built from the ground up in the UK.
Launched in 2007, the Qashqai received a mid-life facelift in 2010, but there are further revisions which make it worthwhile revisiting.
The main one is the addition of Renault’s new 130bhp 1.6-litre engine, which also introduces stop/start technology to the diesel Qashqai for the first time as well as other efficiency measures built into the design.
My first experience behind the wheel of our new Qashqai coincided with a visit to the factory to see the cars being built and included a brief passenger ride in a Qashqai undergoing final checks as it came off the production line.
Nissan’s Sunderland plant is the company’s most efficient factory in Europe and from 2014 will be building five different car ranges, including the electric Nissan Leaf.
So our Qashqai 1.6 dCi has the latest engine option and comes in the new N-Tec+ equipment grade.
It sits above Acenta in the range and includes Nissan Connect audio/communication/navigation interface, a panoramic glass roof and stylish 18-inch alloy wheels. It has optional Nightshade metallic paint as well as Nissan’s Around View Monitor giving the driver a 360-degree view of proximity to surrounding when reversing.
Unfortunately my time in the Qashqai was only a brief drive down the A1 before handing over the keys to our web producer Debbie Wood, who will be updating you on progress in future.