Nissan Qashqai 2018

It's hard to imagine it now, but when the Nissan Qashqai first arrived in UK showrooms in 2006, the crossover SUV craze was in its infancy. In fact, together with the Kia Sportage and Hyundai Tucson, it beat many of today's most compact soft-roaders to the market by several years.

   

Back then, the Ford Kuga, Renault Kadjar, Fiat 500X and MINI Countryman hadn't even been imagined and the fact that the Qashqai struck a chord with so many buyers confirmed that Nissan was definitely onto something. Since then, it has been refined and improved over the years, so today it's better than ever.

The Qashqai comes with plenty of standard equipment, including cruise control, air conditioning and DAB radio.

   

Built in Britain, the Qashqai still offers adventurous all-terrain looks, yet costs little more than a family hatchback to run. Its angular style is more distinctive than the earlier, more curvaceous version and its material quality has improved, too. In fact, it's not far off the high standards set by the Skoda Kodiaq and SEAT Ateca -two cars conceived specifically to fight the Qashqai. It's also handsome enough to tempt BMW X1 and Mercedes GLA buyers, both of which cars are considerably more expensive.

   

Although the engines have been tweaked over time, the basic line-up is little changed and comprises a range of compact yet powerful petrols and diesels. Even the smallest 1.2-litre petrol will meet the demands of most urban families and copes admirably with the occasional long-distance journey. Those who often stray a long way from home might prefer the more powerful 1.6-litre, though, for its increased urgency on motorways, as well as its greater enthusiasm for lugging heavy loads. Petrol fuel consumption ranges from 47-50mpg.

   

Those who prefer a diesel, or who expect to cover more than around 12,000 miles a year, can pick a 110bhp 1.5-litre or 128bhp 1.6-litre dCi engine, the former of which can return 74.3mpg. All the Qashqai engines are pleasant in use -the petrols being slightly quieter, but the diesels having a more muscular feel. None are dreadfully sluggish, either, making the Qashqai is a pretty enjoyable car to drive.

   

The Mazda CX-5 and Ford Kuga still have the edge when it comes to outright driver appeal, but the Qashqai can entertain nonetheless. It has loads of cornering grip and doesn't lean badly, even when driven with vigour on country roads. It's only let down by slightly numb steering that doesn't place you at the centre of the action like some rivals do. Nevertheless, it's an easy car to drive, and very relaxing on the motorway.

   

Those adventurous looks aren't just a red herring and a four-wheel-drive version is available, but it's intended more for greater security on loose or slippery surfaces and wintry weather. It's also useful when towing, or perhaps when recovering a small boat on a greasy slipway. You can only team it with the 1.6-litre diesel engine, where it causes fuel economy to drop from 64.2 to 57.6mpg. Most drivers will be satisfied by front-wheel drive -particularly with winter tyres in the colder months.

The Qashqai is a practical, economical SUV with a great raised driving position and appealing styling.

   

The Qashqai offers a high driving position for a commanding view in city traffic. It feels spacious, too, with a modern, versatile interior -although rear legroom is a little tight. The boot is easy to access through a wide-opening tailgate, with a usefully square shape and decent 430-litre capacity, but it's not class-leading. The first-generation Qashqai came in a seven-seat Qashqai+2 version, but this isn't offered in the current model, so if you want seven seats, you'll either need to step up to a Nissan X-Trail or look at rivals with seven seats as an option, such as the Skoda Kodiaq.

   

Of the five trim levels, our favourites are the mid-level Acenta and N-Connecta, which come with desirable kit like front foglights and alloy wheels. The Visia is a little spartan, while the range-topping Tekna and Tekna+ trims get luxuries like leather upholstery, but are rather more expensive.

   

The Nissan Qashqai scored the full five stars in independent Euro NCAP crash-testing, which is good news for the families that make up the bulk of Qashqai buyers. It finished 38th out of the 75 cars ranked in our 2017 Driver Power owner satisfaction survey of cars currently on sale in the UK.

   

MPG, running costs & CO2 4.8 / 5 Despite looking like an SUV, the Nissan Qashqai offers frugal diesel engines that make it particularly cheap to run

Engines, drive & performance 4.2 / 5 The Nissan Qashqai offers a pair of smooth diesel engines, comfortable suspension and predictable handling

Interior & comfort 4.5 / 5 The Nissan Qashqai boasts a refined, hi-tech and solidly built interior with a decent amount of equipment

Practicality & boot space 4.5 / 5 The Nissan Qashqai offers plenty of storage space and a clever boot for easy loading

Reliability & safety 2.9 / 5 The Nissan Qashqai is very safe, but owners are critical of reliability

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