Nissan Qashqai the crossover no one forgets
THE problem with being a trail-blazer is that people have very short memories.
How many people remember that Nissan virtually invented the crossover? Granted there were 4x4s before, big and small. But they were always a bit rough and ready and lacking in the road manners to give them widespread appeal.
When the conventionally worthy but dull Almera hatchback was replaced by something which looked like an SUV but didn’t necessarily always have all wheel drive, we thought Nissan had gone bonkers.
Then we drove one, loved its high-set driving position, cavernous boot and go-anywhere presence. In one fell sweep we were hooked and every other manufacturer jumped on the Nissan bandwagon.
Having invented the breed it is easy to forget just how great the Qashqai is and the latest generation is the best yet thanks to a simply brilliant 1.6 litre diesel engine.
“Ooh,” one observer humphed when I said it was just a 1.6. “Isn’t that a bit small for a car that big?”
It churns out a creamy 130PS and a lusty 236lb/ft or torque at just 1,750 revs. Sorry to go all technical on you; what that means in real terms is that it flies up hills, has amazing overtaking prowess, will tow like a goodun’ and cruise all day without breaking sweat.
This welcomed paradox of high performance and relaxed manner results in an incredible thing – an easy to achieve 55 plus miles per gallon – just the ticket for these days of more-valuable-than-gold diesel prices.
The rest continues to be a very neat and practical package. It’s got great looks which have been breathed upon just enough to freshen the brand while retaining the distinctive Qashqai identity.
The ride and handling are pure car and a good one at that. Its interior is well sorted, spacious and comfortable. The six speed manual transmission remains light and positive, the throttle nice and light and the brakes powerful.
Specification is high and I love Nissan’s satnav; it’s the best. The glass roof is a superb addition and there’s an electric blind that closes at the push of a button and stops you cooking on the odd day the sun shows its pretty face.
Qashqai set the standard by inventing the class. Since then it has used its time wisely to polish and hone a real automotive jewel to keep it ahead of the field and ensure it is a crossover no one ever forgets.