By Mike Torpey on 2022-06-11 - Driving Force news editor and responsible for organising our daily output. He was staff motoring editor of the Liverpool Echo for 20 years.
Nissan Qashqai 1.3
BEST of British may be something of a well-worn phrase these days, but there's no doubt it applies perfectly to the latest Nissan Qashqai.
In truth this third generation model of what has become the UK's favourite SUV/crossover doesn't differ vastly from its illustrious predecessors.
The sum of a few design tweaks here and there, some added safety features, more advanced infotainment and a slightly longer wheelbase make a huge difference though.
It means this multi-award winner not only boasts more interior space - particularly in the back - but also has better forward, side and rear visibility thanks to little changes like mirrors mounted on the door rather than the A-pillar and a thinner front pillar design.
There has also been an upgrade in the quality of cabin materials - which was pretty impressive anyway - a sure-footed reassurance in the way the Nissan drives plus the sort of everyday practicality families need.
Best of all, it's designed, engineered and built in Britain to the exacting standards that have given Japanese cars such an enviable reputation for reliability.
Let's look at the Qashqai's interior - it's simply laid out with straightforward controls, traditional rotary dials for the ventilation, finely sculpted seats and a flat-bottomed leather steering wheel.
Stowage for oddments and larger items is well catered for too thanks to deep door bins, a rubber matted tray below the dash, a deep lidded central container, glovebox, a pair of cupholders up front and a flip-down rear armrest housing two more cupholders.
But pride of place goes to the new high definition 12.3-inch media screen with its choice of layouts fore navigation, entertainment, vehicle or traffic info.
It looks classy, is easy to use via a dial on the steering wheel, includes a pin-sharp camera with front, back and bird's eye views and is surrounded by piano black dash inserts.
Head and legroom is excellent all round plus there's room for three rear passengers to sit comfortably across the back. Those rear seats split and fold flat 60/40 while the boot is also split level.
Our model, in mid-grade N-CONNECTA trim, featured Nissan's 1.3-litre DiG-T petrol engine boosted by mild hybrid technology to improve fuel economy and CO2 emissions.
This four-cylinder unit is available in both 138bhp and 156bhp outputs as well as a six-speed manual transmission or an Xtronic automatic gearbox, though all-wheel drive is only available in higher powered variants.
The lower powered version with 2WD saw us return an average 43.0 miles per gallon over 235 miles of mixed urban, rural and motorway driving and at no time was the Qashqai anything other than smooth, comfortable and well balanced.
Switching through the separate drive modes of Eco - our go-to setting - Standard and Sport, accessed via a rocker switch behind the gearshift, altered the way the car performed and its overall economy.
In fact the only criticism we could level at the car was a stiffness in the transmission that made engaging reverse gear a bit awkward.
As a family car though the Qashqai ticks just about every box, and particular mention should be made regards its safety attributes.
Nissan Qashqai 1.3 N-CONNECTA
Mechanical:138bhp, 1,322cc, 4-cylinder petrol engine driving front wheels via six-speed manual transmission
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