Southern Gazette (South Perth) - - Driveway - Bill Buys

IF you’re think­ing of buy­ing an SUV, you could have quite a job on your hands: there are 90 dif­fer­ent mod­els to choose from.

Yes, re­ally. From the small­est to the big­gest, bud­get to su­per-lux­ury, 90 of them.

One of the new­est is Nis­san’s Qashqai, a com­pact model perched be­tween the quirky Juke and XTrail and al­ready popular in Aus­tralia.

It's the top-sell­ing one in its class in Europe and the fron­twheel drive ve­hi­cle, avail­able in petrol and diesel, man­ual and au­to­matic, takes over from the Dualis.

Our steed was the range-top­ping TL 1.6L turbo-diesel with Xtronic CVT, priced from $37,990.

It also comes in TS spec for about $5000 less, and there is a choice of 2.0litre petrol mod­els in ST and Ti grades, from $25,850 to $34,990.

The TL is a pre­mium level car, with leather in­te­rior and pi­anoblack, chrome and al­loy trim high- lights, a big colour touch-screen, satnav with traf­fic mon­i­tor­ing, a rev­ers­ing cam­era, six-speaker audio sys­tem and cruise con­trol.

Plus elec­tric fold­ing mir­rors, pri­vacy glass, fog­lights, day­time run­ning lights, auto-on head­lights and wipers and push-but­ton stop/start with a smart key. And dual-zone cli­mate con­trol, a vast glass “moon” roof and a roof spoiler.

Seat­ing is good and there’s enough bol­ster­ing to pro­vide body support in the (heated) front seats and the 60/40 split back ones can be folded flat to lib­er­ate a gen­er­ous 1585litres of cargo space. If you have pas­sen­gers in the back, boot space is still OK at 430litres.

Head, shoul­der and legroom are more than ad­e­quate and there’s a lot of on­board stor­age and cup hold­ers front and rear.

It drives very well - even the steer­ing can be changed from nor­mal to sport - and the small­ish diesel at 96kW has enough power and torque (360Nm) for brisk mo­tor­ing and great econ­omy.

It has an of­fi­cial stat of 4.9litres/100km.

It's a fine pow­er­train, ex Re­nault, that gives a smooth, quiet ride with lots of zip in re­serve.

It has all-in­de­pen­dent sus­pen­sion, all the airbags and elec­tronic safety stuff of the mo­ment and that cam­era gives a bird’s-eye view of the front, back and sides when park­ing.

The Qashqai rides on 19-inch al­loys with 225/45 ra­di­als to en­hance its sporti­ness and road cred.

Ver­dict: The Qashqai TL is a classy, fully fea­tured and beau­ti­fully built SUV. We liked it even more than Blake liked Sam. Be­fore he ran off with Louise.

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