ALL-ROUND GOOD BUY
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.