Is Qashqai our favourite car?
What is Britain’s favourite car these days? It might have been Ford Sierra or Vauxhall Cavalier a few years ago when saloons were the order of the day, or Fiesta and Corsa when hatchbacks reigned.
Not now. Many of us these days are SUV fans because we love their versatility and we feel secure with the high ride height.
So it won’t surprise you to find that Nissan Qashqai is arguably our most popular car. I say arguably because MINI might argue with that. Vauxhall would too, but the Corsa isn’t built in Britain.
So Nissan Qashqai – a Japanese brand named after a nomadic Iranian tribe – is riding high. It does have rivals (Kia Sportage is key among them) but the Nissan is well established.
So, how is Qashqai doing? It was seventh in the UK top 10 sales behind Vauxhall Corsa, Tesla 3, MINI, Mercedes-Benz A-Class, Volkswagen Polo and Volkswagen Golf. Only MINI above it is built in the UK.
So Qashqai is a trend-setter. It is designed in London and built in Sunderland.
If you ever get a chance to look around the factory – they run guided tours – then take it. It’s fascinating, not as greasy and dirty as you might imagine. Clean and bright, it’s more like a laboratory than a car plant.
Qashqai is an SUV, or more accurately a crossover. It covers a lot of bases, such as estate car and SUV, but at its heart is a family car. People who used to drive Mondeos and Vectras now tend to use Qashqais or similar because of their versatility.
It rides well and is more of an executive model than a family runabout.
The main bullet points for Qashqai are that it has a hybrid version, better technology, fresher design and a fabulous cabin. It is, for some, the best crossover/SUV model of 2021 and probably 2022.
It is truly a world car. Designed in the UK, it is popular globally and represented Nissan’s concentration on the SUV and crossover market rather than saloons and hatchbacks.
It rides well, better than you would have imagined an SUV or crossover could manage a few years ago. They used to wallow and felt industrial. Now they are cultured and well equipped. I’ve driven two Qashqais in recent weeks. One from Lookers of Leeds (thanks, guys) and one from Nissan’s press fleet. Both are fabulous.
The car from Lookers was an Acenta, which was good. From £27,155, it was a mild hybrid with 17in alloy wheels, 8in Nissan Connect display, a rear view camera, i-Key and dual automatic air conditioning.
A decent package but the test car Tekna Plus added 20in alloy wheels, quilted leather seats, seat and mirror memory, Bose sound system, drive assist, adaptive LED headlights, wireless charging pad and hands-free powered tailgate. It is a good size car – big enough to handle a family, small enough to cope with supermarket parking bays.
It is dashingly well presented with various drive modes, intelligent cruise control and various collision warning systems. It will keep you in the right lane, should you wander, and it will even spot and “read” warning signs if you miss them.
Entering a 40mph zone? Qashqai will nudge you to cut your speed. Not seen a pedestrian in the road? The car will alert you. A vehicle in your blind spot? You should be alive to the situation but if not, the car is.
The Bose stereo system is fabulous and the USB connections for front and rear passengers are excellent. Ambient lighting might not be first on your list of demands but it does give the car a classy feel.
I like the powered tailgate, glass roof which gives a bright feel and the i-Key with memory functions for driver seat settings and exterior mirrors. I’m not quite so taken with button-style handbrake but I know a lot of people prefer them.
The around-view monitor is splendid – a real safety bonus – and the automatic headlights and rain-sensing wipers are great.
It’s got a huge boot – 1,621 litres – and terrific road manners. This is a minibus one day, a nimble hatchback the next and almost a sporty coupe when pressed. It is neat, solid and very well equipped.
The favourite car in the UK? Quite possibly.
Nissan Qashqai Tekna Plus
Price: £34,175. Test model added ceramic grey pearlescent paint (£745) and two-tone grey and black roof (£400) making it £35.320 on the road. Qashqai starts at £24,555.
Engine: a 1.332cc four cylinder petrol engine generating 158ps via six-speed manual transmission
Performance: Top speed 128 and 0 to 60mph in 9.5 seconds
Costs: 43.6mpg on a combined route
Insurance: Group 19
Warranty: Three years, 60,000 miles