Rear-hinged back doors
But it’s the unique design features that set the concept apart. While the front doors open conventionally, the back doors are rear-hinged… and both open to virtually 90 degrees. As there is no central B-pillar, when both side doors are opened simultaneously access to and from the passenger compartment is much easier than in a conventional car.
There is, however, another reason for adopting this unusual layout. Securely fastened to a central monorail – a solid aluminium chassis backbone designed to ensure the concept enjoys uncompromised structural rigidity despite the lack of B-pillars – are four individual seats.
Unique folding seats
Those on the passenger side of the vehicle not only have backrests that fold, clamshell-style, onto the seat base, but are also cantilevered so that they can be stowed upright, flush with the central chassis backbone.
This, in turn, leaves ample space to store a mountain bike within the passenger compartment – with an obstruction-free side-loading zone, the bike is simply picked up and slotted into place with nothing having first to be dismantled.
QASHQAI also has a conventional luggage compartment at the rear of the car but, again, there’s a novel opening arrangement for the rear hatch.
The split tailgate features a glazed upper ‘bubble’ and metal lower panel. For loading small items, the glass panel can be opened independently and the luggage slotted into the boot.
But for loading larger items, the centrally hinged bottom panel moves forward and then down, to slide out of the way underneath the tail of the car. Once again this allows much easier access to the load area: with a conventional split tailgate, it is necessary to stretch uncomfortably across the lowered portion to reach and remove a suitcase.