Are you after a family motor with get-up-and-go? If so, you'll love the Nissan Qashqai 360. Car reviewer Tim Barnes-Clay put it to the test.
The Nissan Qashqai is the Japanese automaker's most successful vehicle to date, and it's built in Britain at the firm's Sunderland plant.
In terms of size, the Qashqai falls between a multi-purpose vehicle (MPV), such as the Peugeot 5008, and a compact sport-utility vehicle (SUV) like the Kia Sportage or Mitsubishi Outlander.
In case you're confused by these different types of vehicle, let me explain.
An MPV is generally a five- or seven-seat motor with better interior flexibility than other body styles.
An SUV is similar to an estate car, but is usually equipped with four-wheel-drive for on- or off-road ability.
Nissan Qashqai: What's in a name?
And why, you might ask, is it called a Qashqai, (pronounced cash'kai)?
To cut a long story short, Nissan decided to name it after the nomadic tribe living in mountainous south western Iran.
So, now you know a little bit about the car's background, what's it like to drive?
Well, I drove the newest addition to the Qashqai line-up: the 360.
It builds on the strengths of the current range, of which more than 1.4 million have been made.
It's available with a diesel or a petrol engine, and I tested the former.
Nissan Qashqai: Spec
There's a satisfying amount of grunt delivered from the 128bhp 1.6dCi, six speed oil-burner. On top of that, it rewards you with around 60mpg.
The Nissan Qashqai feels a notch above the rest of the small family class. Read: Six practical but good-looking family cars.
Soft-touch materials cover the dash and the cabin is brilliantly bolted together.
There's a lot of head and legroom in the front, meaning that comfort is outstanding for the category of car.
It’s best suited to seat four, but there's enough shoulder room to carry five at a push.
The only stumbling block is that key rival, the VW Golf, gives better headroom for rear-seat passengers.
That said, the boot is large and is well proportioned.
Nissan Qashqai's '360' parking assist system
The nifty Nissan ingratiates itself further with comfortable part leather seats and a 360 degree parking assist system.
This uses cameras set into the bumpers and wing mirrors to offer a "bird's-eye view" of the car on the centre console screen.
It's very clever and could mean the end of parking errors, saving you hundreds of pounds in repair damage.
Equipment also includes a gloss black gear lever surround, a leather armrest, rear privacy glass, a panoramic roof and 18-inch alloy wheels.
Due to the tall stance and high ground clearance of the Nissan Qashqai, body lean can be felt in corners, but it's a long way from cumbersome in a bend.
There's lots of grip and the weighty steering is gratifyingly exact.
The car rides well too, with lumps and bumps ironed out nicely at any speed.
Five-star safety rating
Furthermore, it's a protective set of wheels: the Qashqai has the maximum five-star crash safety score from testing organisation Euro NCAP.
The Nissan's list prices are competitive when compared with its challengers.
But while resale values are good they can't match those of its nemesis – the omnipresent Volkswagen Golf, Britain's most popular secondhand car.
Nevertheless, this is a tidy, brisk little number, and it does what it says on the tin very well indeed.
Nissan Qashqai: Pros & cons
- Economical √
- Comfortable √
- Practical √
- Brisk √
- Rear headroom X
- Body lean X
Nissan Qashqai: Fast facts
- Max speed: 118 mph
- 0-62 mph: 10.3 secs
- Combined mpg: 62.8
- Engine: 1598 cc 4 cylinder 16 valve turbo diesel
- Max. power (bhp): 128 at 4000 rpm
- Max. torque (lb/ft): 236 at 1750 rpm
- CO2: 119 g/km
- Price: £23,145 on the road
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