This will create hundreds of new jobs, as will extra work generated by the Government’s scrappage scheme.
And there’s no denying the success of the Sunderland-built products, notably the Qashqai crossover/SUV which has sold well throughout Europe since its launch in March 2007 and British buyers have been among the most enthusiastic.
To stay up with the competition they brought out the Qashqai + 2 with a modest premium over the standard five-seater but offering two additional seats and more cargo space.
Lengthening the five-seater’s body by 211mm and stretching the wheelbase by 135mm enabled them to accommodate a third row of fold-away seats that are ideal for children, but restrictive for bulky teenagers and adults. Luggage capacity goes up too while some external styling changes complete the picture.
But fundamentally this +2 model is simply an ordinary Qashqai with more carrying flexibility based on a very successful design.
With +2 models available in both front and four-wheel-drive petrol and diesel the extra space will appeal to larger families and owners looking for greater cargo capacity.
Prices have come down since this model was launched and now start at £15,600 for a 2.6-litre petrol +2 in entry-level Visia trim and front-drive. The equivalent five-seat Qashqai costs around £14,200.
Like the standard car, the + 2 range comes with a wide range of petrol and diesel engines, with five- or six-speed manual or automatic transmission and two-wheel drive or Nissan’s well-established “intelligent” 4×4 system.
The automatic transmissions are six-speed manuals or CVT (constant velocity transmission) on petrol models and six-speed manuals or a new six-speed automatic on diesels.
Four trim levels are offered – reasonably well-appointed Visia entry-level, wellspecified Acenta, the new n-tec or Tekna at the top of the range.
Nissan Connect, an integrated touchscreen system, is now standard on n-tec and Tekna models. ltcombines a CD/radio sound system with MP3 connection, USB port, bluetooth connectivity and satellite navigation.
Driving the car on busy main roads, motorways and through narrow country lanes and villages it was obvious the +2 had lost none of the smaller model’s overall refinement and easy driving style.
Visibility was good and the driving position comfortable with a dashboard and trim that had a good quality feel with softtouch materials.
It’s only when you move aft and park the + 2 alongside the five-seater that you begin to see the differences.
For a start the rear doors are substantially longer on the + 2 to ease entry to that third row of seats. The rear quarterlight glass is a lot bigger too while the roofline has been extended and raised by 35mm to boost headroom.
Basically with the same interior as the ordinary Qashqai there’s little difference in the +2 ambience. I found the rear seat area more airy with improved visibility for the second row of three seats – but clambering into the third row is a bit of a struggle.
Nissan make no claims that these two additional independently flush-folding seats are for anything other than occasional use or for young children. It’s just as well. An average sized adult would find it impossible to fit into the seats and be comfortable.
Getting in and out is an ungainly thrash of arms and legs. Headroom is adequate rather than generous and rear pa”ssengers will feel a little hemmed in.
But the concept is a good one for large families that include young children. Both sets of rear seats fold quickly and easily flush into the floor to deliver an immense cargo area that’s just over a meter long and 1.18 metres wide. The floor is quite high off the road at 770mm but it leaves a useful tailgate opening that’s 765mm tall and good for big loads.
There’s underfloor storage and, at long last, a manufacturer has worked out what to do with the detachable tonneau cover rail when not in use.
Clever Nissan designers have adapted the rearmost under-floor storage area to accept the tonneau rail so that it does not have to be left at home or interfere with the load floor when not in use. That’s intelligent design.
All five rear seats fold independently to allow you to utilise space for awkward cargo and passenger combinations. You can adapt the back of the car quickly and simply and return it to full seating just as easily.
While most buyers opt for Nissan’s fussfree front-drive only mode~, the optional All Mode 4×4 system might suit people who need limited off-road ability.
It’s easy to use and lets you choose front or 4×4 drive manually or leave it to sort out where the best power delivery should go.
Front drive models are £1,500 cheaper and will appeal to owners who rarely drive in mud or snow.
Build quality on this Sunderland-built crossover/SUV is excellent and i,t drives well with no drawbacks other than a higher pricetag and taking up a little more space when parking.
The longer Qashqai + 2 is a logical extension of a popular crossover family car that literally extends its appeal. The two additional rear seats are small and only suitable for children, but the extra space provided by the longer body is a useful bonus whether or not the rear seats are used.
• A summertime promotional campaign running until 30th September 2009, has 0% finance, with a minimum 30% deposit on Micra, Note, Qashqai and Qashqai+2 n-tec models ..
Alternatively Nissan is also offering low rate 6.9% APR Preferences personal contract plan deals on all- Micra, Note, Qashqai and Qashqai + 2 models, with no minimum deposits required on Micra and Note.
NISSAN QASHQAI +2 Tekna
Engine: 2-litre diesel
Transmission: six-speed manual
0·62: 10.9 secs
Top speed: 147mph
Combined mpg: 42.2mpg
OTR price from: £23,200