A new range-topping version of the Nissan Qashqai, dubbed the Tekna+, will form part of the next-generation model range when it goes on sale in 2017/18.
The Qashqai Tekna+ will come with a price tag of more than £30,000, pushing Britain’s best-selling crossover - and our reigning Small SUV of the Year - into new competition with the Audi Q3 and BMW X1.
The Tekna+ model will draw inspiration from the Qashqai Premium concept, which was revealed at the Geneva motor show in March and is shown here in our exclusive studio pictures. The concept featured a new bodykit, 20in wheels, a widened chassis, new leather interior, and matt-black paint.
Designers and engineers at Nissan’s European design studio in London are currently working on making the Qashqai Premium into a production reality, ready for launch at the end of next year.
The move will add extra desirability to the Qashqai, particularly for company car drivers looking for an alternative to the German premium-brands, and for private buyers looking for a sporty take on Nissan's SUV.
Top-spec Tekna models are already taking nearly one-in-three Qashqai sales, prompting Nissan to add the new high-spec trim level.
Ford has also experienced the same trend with many of its models, particularly the S-Max, being ordered with the top spec Titanium X trim at prices to rival luxury competitors.
As a result Ford has launched Vignale, a new trim level that also offers a higher-level of dealer service and a club with access to exclusive events.
Prices of many Vignale models have pushed through the £30k barrier - as will the Qashqai Tekna+ - moving the volume brands into new upmarket territory.
For Nissan to compete successfully with the Qashqai Tekna+, it must take the prototype finishes of the concept, lincluding its aggressive bodywork and multi-coloured alloy wheels, and make them work for the mass market.
Engineers must also do feasibility studies to ensure the wider chassis passes all Nissan’s internal durability targets.
Inside, Nissan has chosen a soft nappa leather finish and white colour for the seats and upper door panels.
Matched to black carpets and lower door trim panels this apes the look of some Volvo and BMW interiors, which are popular with company car buyers.
Other clever details include the redesigned front and rear lights. Although they are based on the existing car’s lights, Nissan designers have ingeniously removed the reflective interior finish to expose moulded detail and add a more up-market look.
The biggest challenge for Nissan in its push up-market, however, is to make the matt black paint finish of the concept sufficiently durable for production.
The Qashqai is built in Britain in Sunderland and the factory can spray the stealth-like matt black finish. However, it is vulnerable to damage during cleaning when polishing turns the finish glossy and leaves shiny spots on the bodywork.
As a result, Nissan is looking at three more conventional body colours – light, intermediate and dark – each to be matched with new contrasting trim colours in place of the decorative gold finish of the concept.
The intermediate colour may be a version of graphite grey, which is likely to prove very popular in the UK.
Find out why the Nissan Qashqai is one of our favourite SUVs in the video below.