DETROIT -- Nissan will offer a smaller version of its popular Rogue crossover -- dubbed the Rogue Sport -- in a bid to capture shoppers now considering compact sedans.
The Sport is a Nissan Qashqai imported from Japan, 12 inches shorter than the U.S.-market Rogue and with a fourth less cargo space. The popular Qashqai is built in Japan and the U.K. using the same platform as the Rogue, but for world markets that favor smaller vehicles than U.S. consumers prefer.
Nissan North America believes the U.S. demand for crossovers is so strong that it now needs another variation to capture different shoppers, while still using the Rogue halo.
Last month, Nissan sold more than 40,000 Rogues, making it the single best-selling nameplate in the U.S. industry, excluding full-size pickups.
Michael Bunce, vice president of North American product planning, declined to reveal the intended price for the Sport when it goes on sale this spring. But he said it will be “extremely affordable.”
Nissan is counting on the Sport to partly fill the slot previously occupied by the Rogue Select -- a less expensive old-model Rogue that attracted more budget-conscious shoppers into showrooms. That model was discontinued as Nissan prepared for a different approach,
Bunce said the Sport-badged Qashqai will go beyond that role, offering a crossover option with a sporty driving feel to consumers who are considering Honda Civic, Toyota Corolla or Nissan Sentra sedans.
“We think there’s an opportunity in the market for those customers,” Bunce said here at a press unveiling of the Sport prior to the opening of the Detroit auto show. “They want an option for a small sedan. There isn’t a lot out there for them.”
He said the marketing target will focus on singles, young couples and empty-nesters, or consumers who simply feel the compact Rogue is too much crossover.