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Qashqai still the SUV leader

Created on 17/06/2016 @ 12:01
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Test Drive by Graham Breeze

It’s little wonder that Nissan is spending big at its Sunderland plant to increase production of the Qashqai – the best-selling crossover in Europe.

The company simply can’t keep pace with demand, despite producing a car every minute, and is busily developing a second production line to uncork supply to its European customers.

Nissan created the crossover segment when it unveiled the Qashqai back in 2006. Now 10 years on the competition is fierce with just about every motor manufacturer dipping a toe into the segment’s waters. But Qashqai remains the benchmark.

The small SUV segment demands dynamic styling, an exciting driving experience and innovative technology and I would be hard pressed to say the Tenka DIG-T 163 recently tested didn’t tick all those boxes in heavy ink.

You will find cheaper alternatives, but you get what you pay for, and there are better looking options on the market. But when you take into account Qashqai’s practical and well designed interior, refinement, fuel economy and CO2 emissions it’s easy to see why this Nissan is so popular in both the private and fleet markets.

The 1.6litre petrol on test impressed with combined fuel consumption of 47.1mpg and CO2 emission figures of 124g/km and was no slough either with a top speed of 124mph.

On the road things can feel a little choppy on poorer surfaces with the 19” alloy wheels contributing to a firm ride, but once on the motorway this Nissan feels really at home and it’s easy to see why the accolades just keep coming for this award winner which is the perfect car for the UK market.

Getting comfortable in the spacious cabin is no problem with all the steering wheel adjustment that you need and ample space for three in the back. And with all cars in the SUV sector you get the benefit of a high seating position to ensure you can see where you are going - and where you have been.

If safety influences your choice of purchase Nissan will score highly with the Qashqai. The test model got all-round monitoring, blind spot warnings, moving object detectors and driver attention alerts. All impressive additions but a little annoying for my taste.

The Tenka also benefitted from a smart vision pack which included an anti-dazzle rear view mirror, traffic sign recognition, high beam assist, lane departure warning (my pet hate), forward emergency braking and front and rear parking sensors.

You also get ESP, ABS, EBD and brake assist, hill start assist, an electric parking brake, chassis control, all-round airbags and tyre pressure monitoring and a choice of sport or normal steering systems.

The 7inch touchscreen system contains just about all the navigation and entertainment controls you need and there’s Bluetooth and remote audio control to keep you in touch with the rest of the world.

The cabin gets a leather trim treatment as does the steering wheel and gear knob and there’s rear privacy glass, body coloured bumpers and black honeycombed front grille to match the roof rails.

You could put the test model o the road for £25,300 but when you added metallic paint and a panoramic glass sunroof the price went up to £26,250

The bosses at Nissan could have had little idea of the fuss they would create when the first small family SUV rolled off the conveyor belt but if the Qashqai tested is a pointer they have certainly stayed ahead of the crossover game.

Don’t choose a new SUV until you have looked at this model.

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