THE Nissan Qashqai was arguably the first of the current crop of modern crossover family cars and the latest version faithfully builds on its pedigree so can still be considered the benchmark for rivals to try and match.
Not only has it been facelifted in 2021 but it has been given the latest audio, navigation, creature comforts and conveniences alongside some nice styling revisions.
Nissan has said it plans an extensive ev upgrade across its line up in the very near future and the Qashqai will not doubt benefit, but for now with the latest updates it offers a very wide range of petrol or diesel models with hybrid assistance, front or four wheel drive and manual and automatic transmission.
Newest models get the "intelligent" headlights which automatically dip for oncoming vehicles and then illuminate the road full width for a long way ahead, water jets built into the front wipers to place liquid exactly where needed, and one-touch connectivity and touchscreen. All make each journey easier and safer.
Add the mode selector button for eco, normal or sporting responses, a reasonable but not rapid turn of speed, and a really great ride with very padded and supportive seats and you have a five-door model which can satisfy the driving style of various family users.
Its 1.3-litre four cylinder DiGit engine is a staple workhorse of Nissan and pushed out useful power matched to a seamless continuously variable transmission on the test model with the added benefit of paddles to change up or down if desired.
It's not quick, taking over nine seconds to 62mph and it felt slower with a few people aboard but it did not really complain and in fact the noise levels from all sources were very low.
We saw wide fluctuations in the fuel consumption ranging from a best of nearly 44mpg to low 30s, possibly reflecting which driving mode was used as its default setting was 'standard' or mid range. Select sport and it certainly picked up better without the changes being unsettlingly sharp and in eco mode it plodded along eeking out the motion-lotion.
I liked the strong and progressive footbrake with its easily used auto-hold for queues and hills, the parking brake and the feedback through the power steering but considered the turning circle could have been tighter for congested town driving and parking.
An extensive network of sensors surrounded the Qashqai to protect the car, occupants and those outside when manoeuvring and forward facing radar kept it a safe distance from anything ahead and adjusted speed to prevailing limits.
More basic controls for lights, indicators and wipers worked well too and everything such as mirrors, full-electric windows and security were all very close to fingers.
The roadspeed and tacho instruments were not very big but clear nevertheless and very well lit up, split by a selectable display for settings such as convenience preferentials, running performance, accrued data, navigation outline and our car even boasted a head-up display for essential data, normally something you only find on much more expensive cars not family favourites.
Oddments room was very good for a family car with sensibly sized door bins, seatpockets and trays and boxes on the central console as well as a decent glovebox.
The car's heating and ventilation was very good with lots of outlets, a good range of temperature settings and strong fan speed to push the air about the cabin. Powered windows all round were welcome and the full-length sunroof gave the cabin a very light feeling.
Access was also easy whether into the front or back and the boot had a very clever adjustable shelf system for taking and helping locate items of various sizes with a good overall capacity available.
The seats were really comfortable with a good shape infront and marginally less in the rear where the legroom may be short for taller users. Headroom was good throughout however. Front seats adjustment was plentiful and with a reach and rake adjustable column a driver would be sure to find an ideal setting whatever they liked.
With the all-embracing sensors reassuringly covering blind spots there was good vision through the windows anyway, and the cameras were an added bonus.
The Qashqai was not only well equipped and felt well made with excellent fit and finish of panels and trim, but it really proved very quiet on the road. Mechanical noises were extremely low and only the occasional thump from the 20-inch wheels and tyres could be heard coping with a pothole.
Even then, the ride remained very composed with front struts and rear multi-link taking up the impacts.
That suspension layout also explains the surefooted, dynamic handling which could be extracted irrespective of loading and its front wheel drive only transmission did not produce any concerns when cornering.
Performance was adequate, not exciting even in the sporting mode, but what do you expect from a family runabout? It just got on with the job and did it very well.
Families will like the multi-plugs for mobile phones andpads infront and behind, Bluetooth with streaming facilities, Apple CarPlay, remote powered tailgate operation, privacy glass and practical offset split rear seatbacks.
For the driver a heated wheel and windscreen comes in addition to heated front seats and powered and heated door mirrors, all so desirable in winter.