Well that sure was fast. Less than a week after reports surfaced indicating that Nissan was looking to bring the compact Qashqai to the U.S., a mysterious version of the crossover has been spotted testing in Spain with minimal camouflage. Seeing as how the 2015 Nissan Qashqai was just introduced last year and these changes appear to be minor, the best guess for what this prototype could be is a U.S.-bound version of the small CUV.

Nissan has not even confirmed the existence of a smaller Rogue variant, and it isn’t clear if this model will come before or after the impending Rogue Hybrid. When it does arrive, though, chances are pretty good that Nissan won’t bring the Qashqai name along, instead opting for a Rogue-based name similar to the Rogue Select (a carryover version of the first-gen Rogue). Since it’s impossible to know what Nissan plans to call this new crossover, I’m just going to refer to it as the Qashqai for the sake of clarity and continuity.

Continue reading to learn more about the future Nissan Qashqai.

  • 2016 Nissan Qashqai
  • Year:
    2016
  • Make:
  • Model:
  • 0-60 time:
    10 sec. (Est.)
  • Top Speed:
    125 mph (Est.)
  • Price:
    20000 (Est.)
  • car segment:
  • body style:

Spy Shots

July 16, 2015 - First testing session

2016 Nissan Qashqai Exterior Spyshots
- image 637189
2016 Nissan Qashqai Exterior Spyshots
- image 637191
2016 Nissan Qashqai Exterior Spyshots
- image 637194

Exterior

Nissan designers won’t have too much work to get the Qashqai ready for the U.S. market. These two crossovers already share a similar exterior styling, although the Qashqai is arguably sportier with its more detailed body creases. As expected, the light camouflage suggests that the Qashqai will be receiving slight changes to meet U.S. DOT regulations, including the front fascia and headlights. The rear fascia appears to be carried over from the European crossover, but it could just be like that during testing. The ride height doesn’t seem to have changed either, which is sometimes the case between Europe and U.S. CUVs.

Interior

2015 - 2018 Nissan Qashqai Interior
- image 627941

Note: U.K.-spec 2015 Nissan Qashqai interior shown.

The interior of the current Rogue and Qashqai are almost identical, with the key exception that the smaller variant does not offer the optional third-row seating. As such, not many changes, if any, would be expected when the Qashqai debuts in the U.S.

Drivetrain

2015 - 2018 Nissan Qashqai Exterior
- image 627936

Note: U.K.-spec 2015 Nissan Qashqai engine compartment shown.

The big question mark for this new compact crossover is what will be under the hood. The Qashqai is available with two gasoline engines and two diesel engines, but none of them are the 2.5-liter inline-four offered in the U.S.-spec Rogue.

The big question mark for this new compact crossover is what will be under the hood.

Of the current engines, the most probably for U.S. duty would be the 1.6-liter inline-four rated at 161 horsepower and 177 pound-feet of torque, which would probably be a performance improvement compared to the bigger, heavier Rogue’s output of 170 horsepower and 175 pound-feet of torque.

Looking at the rear of this prototype doesn’t help solve the powertrain riddle either, as the mocked-up tailpipe could be for a U.S.-conforming muffler for the Qashqai’s engine or it could be the 2.5-liter’s exhaust being test-fitted.

Even sadder than the fact that the U.S. won’t be getting a small diesel version is the likelihood that the Qashqai’s six-speed manual gearbox will be left out of the equation also, leaving the new CUV with a continuously variable transmission.

Prices

Looking at Nissan’s lineup, there’s not much wiggle room for a smaller version of the Rogue. The 2015 Nissan Rogue is priced at $23,040, while both the Rogue Select and Juke are priced almost identically at $20,150 and $20,250, respectively. Adding the Qashqai to the U.S. lineup would allow Nissan to open up a little breathing room for the Juke, so it wouldn’t be hard to picture the U.S.-spec Qashqai priced somewhere in the high $21,000 dollar range.

Competition

2017 Ford Escape

2017 Ford Escape Exterior Spyshots
- image 630553

The current Nissan Rogue grew in size in order to accommodate the optional three-row seating configuration, so the smaller Qashqai would allow Nissan to once against square off with compact crossovers like the Ford Escape. Recent spy shots show that the Escape is in for a mid-cycle update, possibly for the 2017 model year, meaning that the timing for this new Nissan is perfect. In its current form, the 2015 Ford Escape is priced at $22,960, which will certainly be a higher price point than a U.S.-spec Qashqai.

Read our speculative review of the 2017 Ford Escape here.

2017 Kia Sportage

2017 Kia Sportage High Resolution Exterior Spyshots
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When it comes to small, sporty CUVs, the Kia Sportage might be the best example here in the U.S. The current Sportage has been around since 2010, so an all-new model is expected soon, as shown by spy photographs captured earlier this year. With the 2016 Sportage already on sale, it’s likely that the redesigned Sportage will be available for the 2017 model year. Like the Escape, the current Kia Sportage is extremely affordable with a starting price of $22,150.

Read our speculative review of the 2017 Kia Sportage here.

Conclusion

There’s really no telling what this Nissan Qashqai prototype is testing, but if it is an upcoming addition to Nissan’s U.S. lineup, then the automaker is sure to have more success on its hands. The second-gen Rogue is already selling so well that Nissan will be importing additional models from Japan (to bolster the U.S. production), and based on that fact, it’s probably a good bet that a U.S.-bound Qashqai might even be imported from England.

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    • * No diesel for the U.S.
    • * Probably no manual transmission either
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