Nissan overtakes Honda in battle of the SUVs

Nissan Qashqai, the Sunderland-built model launched last March, has overtaken the Honda CR-V to become the UK’s biggest-selling sports utility vehicle, according to a leaked analysis based on the latest sales figures.

Qashqai has bucked the trend of plummeting SUV sales with a 10% rise in May, backed by a substantial advertising campaign created by TBWALondon.

The rest of the SUV market plunged 18% in May compared with the same month last year. Sales have been hit by a triple whammy of rising fuel costs, punitive vehicle taxes on polluting cars and an environmental backlash against the off-roaders.

The Qashqai sold 9,558 vehicles in the first five months of this year and 1523 in May, while the Honda CR-V, previously the top selling SUV, shifted 9,040, a fall of over 8% from the same period last year and 1295 in May.

However, Nissan is furious over the figures as it denies the Qashqai is an SUV, saying three-quarters of its sales are two-wheel drives and only a quarter are 4x4s. The company has tried to avoid Qashqai being drawn into the controversy over SUVs.

Jean-Philippe Roux, Nissan Motor GB’s marketing manager for cross-over cars, says: “Qashqai offers an alternative to the conventional hatchback. Customers love the presence and look of an SUV combined with the sleekness and smoothness of a passenger car. This is the essence of a cross-over.”

He says the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders measures the model as a C class, along with the Ford Focus and VW Golf. But the analysis obtained by Marketing Week – which claims to be based on SMMT figures – classes it as a “compact SUV”, measured against the Honda CR-V, Land Rover Freelander and Toyota RAV4. 

One source points to Qashqai’s claim on its website: “With high ground clearance and optional all mode 4×4, it’s ready to take you out of town.”

The source adds: “The analysis has put it in the correct segment. That is where it belongs.

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