Every day we take a look at some of the cars in our car park. Today, we are looking at our Nissan Qashqai, Mazda 3 and the Hyundai i10.
I had a couple of UK car launches to attend the other week – one in leafy Surrey, the other in even leafier Goodwood – and it seemed a good opportunity to take our reigning Car of the Year for a slightly longer run.
Interestingly, both of the cars I was going to test were SUVs – Porsche's excellent Macan, and Land Rover's evergreen Discovery – so there was ample opportunity to compare the Qashqai's on-road abilities with much more expensive vehicles. It stood up remarkably well, too; our humble Nissan is no less comfortable on pock-marked British roads than either the Porsche or the Land Rover, and it does a decent enough job on body control, too.
The most impressive bit, though, is the 1.5-litre diesel engine. It has enough torque for almost every situation but it's flexible and remarkably refined once you're cruising along. The steering is nicely weighted and accurate, and the six-speed manual gearbox is slick enough to allow you to hustle the Qashqai along B-roads. There really is little to match this car's all-round breadth of abilities, especially at its price.
It's always reassuring when you take the Car of the Year for a run a few months into its reign and come away even more convinced that it's a worthy champ. That's exactly what happened here.
By John McIlroy
Read all of our weekly updates on the Nissan Qashqai.
The Hyundai i10 still impresses, even in automatic form
And the Mazda 3 has been doing what all What Car? cars end up doing at one point - transporting biikes.