RAY MASSEY: Nissan's new Qashqai won't blow your socks off

The Nissan Qashqai redefined the family sports utility market when it was launched a decade ago.

The latest generation will be in showrooms next month and I was behind the wheel for its global launch in Austria.

It won't blow your socks off. But it's an all-round easy drive that will appeal to families. And it's plusher than its predecessor.

The Qashqai — dubbed the 'cash cow' because it's proved so lucrative for Nissan — has also been a boon to the British economy and jobs, too. Since its launch in 2007, more than 2.5 million have rolled off the Sunderland production line.

Vroom for all the family: Ray test-drives the latest version of the Nissan Qashqai in Austria

Prices go from £19,295 for the entry-level Visia 1.2 petrol version in two-wheel drive, to £32,530 for the 1.6dCi 130-diesel four-wheel drive 6-speed manual. Several trim levels are offered. 

Surfaces are more tactile and soft-touch. A D-shaped steering wheel makes it easier for the driver to get in and out, and its thicker rim offers an easier grip and greater control.

To stop you rolling backwards there's a new Stand Still Assist function, which holds manual cars in position for up to three minutes allowing the driver to take his or her foot off the brake when held up. After that, it automatically applies the brake. 

Top seller: The Qashqai has been dubbed the 'cash cow' because it's proved so lucrative for Nissan and has also been a boon to the British economy and jobs

To stop you rolling backwards there's a new Stand Still Assist function, which holds manual cars in position for up to three minutes allowing the driver to take his or her foot off the brake

The top-range Tekna+ trim has a panoramic glass roof as standard, electrically adjustable driver and passenger seats, a four-way electric lumbar support, satin-finished roof rails, and an eight-speaker sound system. 

The semi-autonomous Pro-Pilot system, to keep you in lane and brake automatically, will be an option from next year. It's already being used in Japan.

Cabin: A D-shaped steering wheel makes it easier for the driver to get in and out, and its thicker rim offers an easier grip and greater control

Prices go from £19,295 for the entry-level Visia 1.2 petrol version in two-wheel drive, to £32,530 for the 1.6dCi 130-diesel four-wheel drive 6-speed manual

Road noise inside the cabin has been reduced, while all-round cameras help parking.

The 1.5 litre 110 bhp diesel version promises 99g/km CO2 emissions and 74.3 mpg fuel economy.

This is Jaguar Land Rover's new state-of-the -art Classic Works centre in Coventry where it will build, restore and service iconic models from its history

Coventry is now home to Jaguar Land Rover's new £7 million 'Classic' HQ, which opened this week.

Part of the JLR's expanding Special Operations division, the 14,000 sqm premises will be used to build 'reborn' versions of classics, including the Jaguar E-Type, XKSS and Range Rovers, to store more than 500 of its collection, and house more than 80 restorers in 54 workshop bays to work on models cherished by their owners.

Honda's gamble to beat the Brexit blues is paying off in spectacular fashion with sales of its new British-built Civic to the USA running nearly 40 per cent higher than expectations, bosses have revealed.

Honda's 170mph Civic Type R sports a vortex generator that channels the airflow to create a strong down force and suction effect that helps the car stick to the ground. 

The Japanese car-giant's bold decision to be less reliant on EU markets in Continental Europe and switch focus towards world markets such as the USA and even Japan – has seen the firm's UK plant in Swindon hit key production and sales targets much earlier than expected as it enjoys a post-Brexit bounce.

Exports of the 5-door Civic to the USA in particular have been boosted by the weaker pound.

Ray Massey was among the first group of motor journalists to put the car through its paces in Germany on the track and road

The news came as Honda unleashed its hottest ever British-built 'hot-hatch' – the 170mph Civic Type-R – for its international European launch on and off the track around Dresden in Germany, and also on the nation's de-restricted Autobahns.

It has been dubbed 'the People's supercar' because of its relatively reasonable prices - starting at £30,995 for the standard model and £32,9995 for the higher specified GT version – for such a high performance vehicle whose turbo-charged 2.0 litre VTEC engine propels it from rest to 62mph in just 5.7 seconds.

There are five different colour choices, though only red and white are available on the standard models

Honda said it had been built 'with Japanese precision and British passion' in Swindon to be 'exported across Europe and to other markets around the world including Japan and the US.'

The Swindon factory's Honda Civic engineering project leader David McDonald said the annual Civic production target for the USA was 60,000 cars – and that has already been met well ahead of time: 'We're running 40 per cent over our original target already in sales to the USA . The start has been very, very strong.'

He said the decision to switch the factory's focus to wider world markets to balance uncertainties over Brexit had been well and truly vindicated. 

The Civic target for EU markets is 45,000 vehicles, and that is broadly on target. All told UK-built Civics are being exported to more than 70 countries around the globe.

Phil Webb, Head of Cars for Honda UK said: 'This has been a great help in countering the uncertainty over Brexit.'  

A further 2,200 will be exported to Japan – higher than the 1,500 first envisaged. That's on top of 6,000 regular Civics.

A comfort setting makes the tuned Civic reasonably liveable on the road. Bigger dimensions than the outgoing car should also boost practicality

Some 2,500 Civic Type Rs will go to UK customers in the first full year to the end of March 2018 – out of 3,700 for the whole of Europe – rising to around 3,500 the next year.

Civic engineering project leader David McDonald said: 'It's the first time we have exported the Type R to the USA and it has instantly become our biggest market for it.'

Honda's Swindon factory produced 140,000 cars in 2016 and is on track to build 165,000 this year.

Before the launch of the new 10th generation Civic, some 40 per cent of Swindon-built cars were exported to Europe, 40 per cent to the rest of the world (but not the USA) and 20 per cent to the home British market.

Now, with the new car, half (50 per cent) of production is being exported to the USA, Japan and the rest of the world, with just 35 per cent to Europe and 15 per cent to the UK.

The boost is particularly welcome as production of the Honda CR-V off-roader ends in Swindon in May 2018, at which point the factory will build only the five-door Civic hatchback. 

Jaguar Land Rover has served up more than one ace this week — ahead of providing 170 vehicles for the Wimbledon tennis championships.

Smasher: Andy Murray helps launch Jaguar's sleek new XF Sportbrake at Wimbledon

Jaguar has boosted the size of the new car's boot to 565 litres. 

With the rear seat back rests down, it offers up to 1,700 litres of lugging space — enough for 6,500 tennis balls. 

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June 16, 2017

Sources:` Daily Mail

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