NISSAN Sunderland’s new car is Britain’s best.
What Car? named the new Qashqai as its Car of the Year 2014 last night at its annual awards ceremony.
The news comes as Nissan reveals it built more than 500,000 cars on Wearside for the second year running during 2013.
Kevin Fitzpatrick, vice president for manufacturing in the UK, said: “Building over a million cars in two years is a further sign of Nissan’s growing brand presence in one of the most competitive markets in Europe.
“Exceeding output of 500,000 units for a second year is an even greater achievement, given we combined this high volume with starting production of the all-electric Nissan Leaf, along with the launch of the new Note, and replacing the most popular car we have ever made with the new generation Qashqai.”
The new model has a lot to live up to – more than 286,000 of the cars built in Sunderland last year were Qashqais and the plant has now built 1,752,232 of the cross-over since its launch in 2006.
The new Qashqai was also named best small SUV at yesterday’s ceremony.
What Car? editor-in-chief Chas Hallett said: “The all-new Nissan Qashqai brings excellence and polish to a class of cars that is brimming with talent and tempting buys.
“The Qashqai delivers low costs and first-class levels of comfort, refinement, space and safety.
“Nissan has thought of every last detail, and this complete approach is why the Qashqai is What Car?’s Car of the Year. The Nissan team should be justifiably proud of their achievement.”
Nissan Motor GB managing director Jim Wright said: “We’re thrilled that What Car? has named the new Qashqai as its 2014 Car of the Year. A huge amount of effort has gone into the design and engineering of the new car, and we’re all extremely excited about creating the template for the second-generation crossover.”
Production of the new Qashqai will be marked with a launch event at the Sunderland factory on January 22.
“Our workforce continues to set the benchmark for productivity and quality, and I would like to thank and congratulate them all on reaching this latest milestone,” said Mr Fitzpatrick.
The annual production figures of 501,756 came during a year a year in which Prime Minster David Cameron visited the plant to mark the launch of the LEAF, and work began on a plant extension to enable production of the Infiniti Q30 from 2015.
Monthly production broke the 50,000 barrier in October for the first time in Nissan’s 27-year history of manufacturing in the UK.