ALL-ROUND GOOD BUY

Halifax Courier - - Classifieds - By Rob Auchter­lonie

So, what’s the most suc­cess­ful car of re­cent years? MINI must be a con­tender. Smart may be an off-the-wall sug­ges­tion for pro­mot­ing city cars. But I of­fer you a sur­prise op­tion: Nis­san Qashqai.

Nis­san’s ve­hi­cle pop­u­larised the cross­over con­cept to such an ex­tent that ev­ery ma­jor man­u­fac­turer ei­ther has a con­tender in this field, or very soon will have.

Crossovers – ve­hi­cles which mix styles, in this case SUV and es­tate – suit our life­styles. Qashqai, for ex­am­ple, may be used as a fam­ily shop­ping car, a leisure ve­hi­cle and as a long-dis­tance mo­tor­way cruiser.

It was launched in 2006 as a re­place­ment for the Ter­rano and quickly be­came the great all­rounder. It even re­placed the Primera as Nis­san de­cided that old-fash­ioned sa­loons were, well, old-fash­ioned.

Qashqai, built in Sun­der­land, has proved a global hit be­cause of its ver­sa­til­ity. It is ca­pa­ble of han­dling some rough ter­rain but is es­sen­tially a fam­ily runaround with ex­cel­lent on-road han­dling and lots of con­ve­nience fea­tures.

Tested here is the ‘n-tec’ ver­sion, one of the bet­terequipped mod­els. Among its fea­tures are a set of 360-de­gree cam­eras. It means if you are park­ing the Qashqai you get an over­head view on a large screen on the dash­board.

This aerial shot helps pre­vent car park scrapes and, more im­por­tantly, from hit­ting pedes­tri­ans. Car de­sign­ers talk about ‘sur­prise and de­light’ fea­tures. Well, this cer­tainly sur­prises and de­lights. How the cam­eras com­bine to cre­ate one clear aerial im­age is amaz­ing.

OK, so the Qashqai has one or two short­com­ings. At three years or 60,000 miles, the war­ranty is short com­pared with some ri­vals. And I found the ride a lit­tle too wal­lowy for a car which is ex­pected to be on the road much more than farm tracks or fields.

And I’m not a fan of the push- but­ton hand­brake. Give me a proper hand­brake any day, one you can be sure is ap­plied.

That said, the econ­omy is im­pres­sive and the emis­sions fig­ure is be­low the magic 100g/ km fig­ure. In­cred­i­ble for such a sub­stan­tial car.

The boot is pretty big, though. It holds 430 cu­bic feet ris­ing to more than 1,500 cu­bic feet with the seats down.

The ‘n- tec’ model is im­pres­sively equipped. You might ex­pect Nis­san’s par­tic­u­larly good satel­lite nav­i­ga­tion sys­tem and the i-key key­less en­try sys­tem ( just press a but­ton to start the en­gine).

But some of the other hitech fea­tures may sur­prise you. There is a lane de­par­ture warn­ing sys­tem which sounds if the car ‘thinks’ you’re wan­der­ing too much; the au­to­matic high beam dips if it ‘sees’ cars ap­proach­ing; the car ‘recog­nises’ road signs; and the car will brake if it feels you are about to hit the car in front.

Add those to more con­ven­tional fea­tures such as an AUX socket for MP3 play­ers, an­tilock brakes, sta­bil­ity con­trol and Brake As­sist, and you have a pretty in­tel­li­gent and welle­quipped car.

Luxury fea­tures in­clude sil­ver roof rails, al­loy wheels, chrome trim, leather trim, pow­ered mir­rors, cruise con­trol and a good stop-start sys­tem which helps keep econ­omy up and emis­sions down.

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