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Japanese New Model Onslaught: Mitsubishi, Nissan, Honda.

The third week of February 2021 has been a busy week for the three major Japanese car makers. Mitsubishi has unveiled the new Outlander, Honda their new HR-V, and Nissan’s shown their updated Qashqai.

Outlander.
There’s a substantially redesigned machine ready to roll out from Mitsubishi, with the Outlander gaining a more distinctive “Dynamic Shield” grille, relocated headlights, and a redesigned rear window line. There’s a new base platform, and Mitsubishi have bolted in a new 2.5L petrol engine.

The front sees the headlights lowered to the mid-section of the bumper, not unlike the designs from Hyundai in the Santa Fe. This has the leading edges of the fenders draw a visual line to the combined LED driving lights and indicators. Relocating the main lights fills out a bluffer looking front bar, and Mitsubishi says it will also aid light distribution. This also has the now familiar chromed strip that Mitsubishi employs on its SUVs brought around further to the bottom of the relocated lights.

The tailgate has a recessed panel look, said to evoke the section on the ‘gate where the now cancelled Pajero had its iconic spare wheel cover. This sits between redesigned taillights, slimmer in form, and part of a squarer look to the section, with the D-pillar a solid triangular shape.

Inside and there is a familiar yet new look to the cabin. The ambience is of a higher level than before, with the top models of a luxury orientation not seen before in Outlander. On upper models the driver has a 12.3 inch digital display, lower versions a still good-sized 7.0 inch digital screen. The main centre screen, says Mitsubishi, will be a 9.0 size depending on trim levels. Bose supply the sounds with a dual subwoofer, ten speaker, system.

Smartphones are catered for with USB-C and USB-A charge ports and a wireless pad. Passenger comfort is backed up via a seating arrangement that allows for a three row, seven seater, configuration, including a centre row that can be a two seater to allow items such as skis to be placed down the middle. Safety goes up too, with a total of 11 airbags, including a front center airbag for the driver’s seat and side airbags for the second-row seats.

Sales start in April for the North American market, with Australia due probably late in Q3.

Qashqai.
Although retaining the sharp edges in the nose of the current model, the 2021 Qashqai sees Nissan’s new design language front and centre. Distinctive U-shaped structures dominate the look, with LED lights and driving lights joining together. There is also an enlarged Nissan V-Motion grille, finished in chrome with a secondary pinstripe of satin chrome.The upper edge of the headlights commences a line that runs through to the rear, with a slope from the roof that echoes that on the Juke.

There is a restyled bumper and a look that sees the Qashqai join others by having a strong long at the lower extremities, providing a place for the aero to do its work with a vent through to the front wheel well. The doors have their own crease now, which will bring a sense of strength to the Qashqai in profile.

Physical changes see the wheelbase up by 20mm, with length up by 35mm and height by 25mm. Width has grown by 32mm which will translate to an increase in shoulder room. 20 inch wheels will also be offered. It will be available in both 2WD and AWD configurations.

Technology changes see a higher resolution 9.0 inch NissanConnect screen complete with Android and Apple smartapp compatibility plus wireless Apple CarPlay fitted. The diver’s info is a 12.3 inch screen, and Nissan have put a tactile switch into a steering wheel spoke in order to provide easy access. There is a 10.8 inch HUD fitted as well.

All-new Nissan Qashqai

Cargo space increases by 50L thanks to a redesigned rear suspension allowing a lowering of the cargo floor by 20mm. There’s been invisible yet crucial changes to the door mechanisms too, with entry and exit of the Qashqai now easier.

Perhaps the biggest news is the addition of the 1.3L DiG-T hybrid engine package. It’ll be offered in overseas markets (and as yet unconfirmed for Australia) in two power output levels. The 1.3-petrol motor will be offered with 138hp and 156hp driving either a 6-speed manual transmission, or new Xtronic gearbox for the higher output engine only. Max engine power arrives at 5500rpm, with maximum available torque of 270Nm at a convenient 1750rpm on 156hp Xtronic and high power MT variants.

ETA for Australia is yet to be announced.

All-new Nissan Qashqai

HR-V.
To be on sale in Europe in late 2021, the HR-V has been given a makeover that, dare we say it, makes it look mainstream. It joins the Qashqai in offering a hybrid drive for the first time, however specifics on that have not yet been released, nor have many other details on the car itself. The styling does perhaps point to a new direction for the venerable Japanese company.

From the rear the HR-V also aims for the new slimline design, and here there is a join line too, much like the Kias Carnival and Stinger. From the front it could, almost, be described as bland compared to the current model, and evokes hints of the Mazda SUVs with the numerous horizontals in the grille. It certainly looks much more restrained than the others in comparison.

In profile, the rear windowline is steeply raked, with the rear overhang tapering forward to a point where it appears the hingeline sits almost directly above the rear axle and this too evokes another design standard, this time from the smaller Lexus SUV range. Honda says the styling is: a distinctive SUV presence in a compact coupe-inspired design.

Interior design is stripped back, minimalist, in look. Soft touch plastics and up to date cloths raised the level closer to a premium SUV feel, along with a feeling of airiness and space is elevated by a new air diffusion system that creates a curtain of fresh air beside and above passengers, flowing from unique L-shaped vents positioned in the top corners of the dashboard.

An Australian sale date also hasn’t been released.

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