Nissan Qashqai

1.6dCi Tekna+

Nissan Qashqai, front
Nissan Qashqai, front
Nissan Qashqai, front
Nissan Qashqai, rear
Nissan Qashqai, rear
Nissan Qashqai, interior
Nissan Qashqai, interior
Nissan Qashqai, 2017, boot
Nissan Qashqai, 2017, side, static

A DECADE or so ago, few of us even knew how to pronounce Qashqai, Nissan's then new venture into the family car market.

Today it's recognised as the landmark crossover that kicked off a new style of car that lit a fire under just about every manufacturer, and began a global trend.

But time never stands still, and now, 11 years after the first version was launched, the Japanese marque is on its third version of the Qashqai introduced last year.

Since Nissan dumped the traditionally styled Primera saloon for the then radical Qashqai, there's been a flood of copycat crossovers launched on to a greedy market. Even now, against shrinking car sales, this sector is still growing at 24 per cent.

So, how well does the latest Qashqai fare against the rivals? Plusher cabin trim, better quality materials and heavier duty plastic mouldings have conspired to boost the interior's feel-good factor - an important area bearing in mind the top Qashqai sells for around the £32,000 mark.

I drove the 1.6 dCi Tekna+ version in two-wheel-drive (2WD) guise which, along with the four-wheel-drive (4WD), are the flagship models.

The quickest of the diesels, it has 128bhp engine that has enough urge to cover the dash to 62mph in just under 10 seconds and go on to a maximum of 118mph, which is about par the course in this sector.

Good economy has long been a strength of the Qashqai and the current model continues this attribute with an official combined figure of 64.2mpg.

Most owners will easily top the 45mpg mark in normal road conditions. Emissions are impressive too, with CO2 of 116g/km.

The latest interiors has a quality air about it and there's ample room for four or even five adults.

A flat bottomed leather steering wheel gives it a sporty edge and makes getting in and out easier for the driver.

The dash is well laid out with easy to read dials and plenty of dark, tactile plastic - smart looking if a bit conservative.

Legroom in the rear is sufficient but not as generous as some rivals and the boot with a carrying capacity of 401 litres is smaller than much of the competition. With rear seats folded, this expands to 1569 litres.

Both engine and road noise are subdued, helping to make the Qahqai one of the most refined models in its class. There's plenty of torque from the smooth diesel engine, although it doesn't feel quite as nippy as the figures suggest.

A slick six-speed gearbox is standard, although a CVT automatic is available for those who are not keen on manuals.

Gone, fortunately, are the days when it was accepted that high-riders wallowed and rolled around bends. The Qashqai corners confidently and securely with plenty of grip and offers reasonable ride comfort for passengers.

I suspect the lesser models which are fitted with smaller diameter wheels than the 19-inch ones on this car will feel still more composed over uneven surfaces.

As you'd expect there's plenty of standard kit on the Tekna+. This includes seven inch touchscreen with sat nav, rear privacy glass, eight speaker audio system, auto headlights, climate control and automatic folding mirrors.

FAST FACTS

Nissan Qashqai 1.6dCi Tekna+

Price: £31,575

Mechanical:128bhp, 1,598cc, 4cyl diesel engine driving front wheels via 6-speed manual gearbox

Max Speed: 118mph

0-62mph: 9.9 seconds

Combined MPG: 64.2

Insurance Group: 15

C02 emissions: 116g/km

Bik rating: 25%

Warranty: 3yrs/60,000 miles

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