Nissan Qashqai N-Connecta

dCi 110

IT doesn't always pay to be first to the party, and never more than in the cut throat world of cars.

Many a pioneer machine has sunk without trace as nobody else thought it a good enough idea to even consider copying - but get it absolutely right before anyone else and you'll be laughing all the way to the bank.

Which is why, with the wind in the right direction outside Sunderland you can hear gales of mirth as yet another Qashqai rolls off the Nissan production line. Well, not really, or not the bit about laughing.

It's no laughing matter for rival manufacturers who know a new Qashqai comes off the line every minute of every day - so more than 300,000 a year and no sign of sales stagnating.

This really is a gold plated case of hitting the (diamond tipped) nail on the head, showing how spectacularly well the crossover has done for its maker since the first one appeared in 2006.

Back then, Nissan gambled that a car mixing the upright stance and enhanced ground clearance of an SUV with the interior feel of a good hatchback would appeal. And boy, did we take to what became a crossover phenomenon.

You'll know that the car world has turned crossover and SUV crazy since then, with just about every manufacturer offering something of the pumped up hatchback look with a, usually pretend, off-roader appeal.

But Nissan got there first and cemented its place in the sales league with a fresh version in 2014.

Clearly inspired by the original - it would be career shortening to have done anything else - the latest Qashqai is a bit bigger, better equipped and ready for a world where we want computers on wheels rather than old fashioned cars.

And has Nissan succeeded with the 'difficult second album' that has sunk many a pop group and sent car makers scurrying back to the drawing board. You bet it has.

There's a real mature feel to this latest version, without the car feeling as though it's remotely ready for its pipe and slippers.

The way it copes serenely with bad roads, the way it eagerly answers a call for more speed and the composed way it rounds bends despite its SUV height are all pointers to years of patient development by engineers who cared.

Inside the Qashqai you're faced with a dashboard that does the job without showing much of the angles and slashes that seem to be required of the very newest of the Nissan's rivals. It all works well enough, though, and looks reassuringly solid.

The particular diesel engine in the car I drove must be one of the most popular units around. It's shared with several Renaults, for instance, and manages to combine plenty of pulling power with a minimum of the underbonnet clatter that can trouble cars with the smelly fuel in their tank.

After several hundred miles the trip computer showed 55mpg - as usual, miles off the official figure of more than 70 to the gallon, but about what you'd expect.

This Connecta trim level of Qashqai came... well connected. Standard kit includes a touch screen navigation system, Bluetooth, CD player and DAB radio.

Also standard are big 18in alloy wheels, cruise control and whole bag of safety systems that include traffic sign recognition (it signals the speed limit), auto high beam for the headlights, front and rear parking sensors and emergency braking that slows you if it anticipates a collision and you're not paying attention.

FAST FACTS

Nissan Qashqai N-Connecta dCi 110

Price: £23,810

Mechanical: 108bhp, 1,461cc, 4cyl diesel engine driving front wheels via 6-speed manual gearbox

Max Speed: 113 mph

0-62mph: 11.9 seconds

Combined MPG: 70.6

Insurance Group: 13

C02 emissions: 103 g/km

Bik rating: 20%

Warranty: 3yrs/60,000 miles

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