To paraphrase the late Brucie; ‘Hasn’t Nissan done well?’ They have certainly hit the jackpot with the Qashqai model.
Since its launch in 2006, it has created almost two million sales. In 2013, came the second generation, and now we have a refresh.
Never underestimate the savageness of the Compact Crossover SUV market: Nissan certainly don’t, and this latest offering, built in Sunderland for the UK and European market, has raised the already high, bar even further.
Competitors in the marketplace include the futuristic-looking RAV4 by Toyota, the competent but slightly dowdy CR-V by Honda, and the Tiguan from the humble-pie-eating Volkswagen. Yes, yes, I know, I have omitted the Renault Kadjar, because, as we all know, they are now siblings in the Renault-Nissan Alliance, a global motoring family which, together, sells more than one in 10 new cars worldwide. To me, they are very similar and the only way to differentiate really is to ask yourself which badge you would like on the nose and whether to support the UK or French market.
I find it strange that such a large, profitable and confident car producer as Nissan, while producing a great car, have not taken more of a risk with the kerbside styling: it’s OK, but about as exciting-looking as a pair of slippers.
Thankfully, it is better behind the wheel. Nissan have squeezed out 115 bhp from the tiddly 1.2-litre turbo-charge petrol engine I had in my test car. Without the burden of the all-wheel drive option and a sideboard full of heavy, rarely-used electronic gadgets, it will reach 60mph in 11 seconds, exceed the motorway speed limit by 45mph and still return over 45 miles to the gallon.
So, it’s neither a plodder nor a car that will attract the Constabulary unless you are being very foolish. The interior is calming, well-laid out and of very good quality, with superb seats; and at night, the welcome lights illuminate the underneath of the car with such brightness it would make a pimply, young petrol-head, dribble with jealousy.
Five can travel in comfort, and the boot is of a good size, with a hidden shelf below, albeit at the expense of a spare tyre.
As with other Nissan vehicles, you have three flavours to choose from: entry level Visia through to Acenta and topping out with Tekna, where you are indulged with Nissan’s Safety Shield Plus technology, which includes blind spot warning, moving object detection, rear cross traffic alert and intelligent park assist.
Opting for the range-topping Tekna+ model gets Nappa leather upholstery, electrically adjustable front seats, gloss silver roof rails and wing mirrors and a panoramic roof.
Nissan has been a slight victim of its own success and replacing it has been a tough brief. Other competitors may shine in other areas but few pull it all together in one package as well as Nissan have with the latest Qashqai.