Our Qashqai has always been straightforward and exemplary in every field – it’s user-friendly, and an easy car to drive, to use and to own. It makes me feel ashamed, therefore, to have to point out something that’s proving an area of annoyance.
You see I’m always surprised, every time I stop to refuel it, that its fuel filler flap has to be opened up by a release button underneath the dash, rather than by simply lightly tapping the fuel flap itself, the system most cars seem to use, provided their doors are unlocked. I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve got out of the car, before having to return to it to hunt around for the awkwardly placed release button, the position of it being more awkward because one is by this time standing outside the car reaching in, rather than sitting in the driver’s seat.
Obviously this is more the fault of my memory than anything else. I realise too that some would see this as a security feature, the intention presumably being to make it more difficult for people to siphon off or tamper with your precious fuel. However, I am not alone in finding it unusual that our thoroughly modern Qashqai makes use of a rather old-fashioned release button.
By Mark Pearson
Read the full Nissan Qashqai review
Week ending June 16
Driven this week 120
Is our Qashqai, as the current TV adverts claim, the Ultimate Urban Experience?
Considered as a driving experience, it’s good, but not particularly sharp. It’s a relatively short and tall SUV, after all. Its steering is reasonably direct and prompt; its roadholding is only as good as its low-rolling resistance Continental tyres allows, which is to say reasonable; its handling is predictable and competent, if not exciting.
However its ride, which will be of more interest to more owners more of the time (especially urban owners, their roads rutted with broken surfaces and sleeping policemen), is praiseworthy, being smooth at high speed, with just the right level of firmness at low speeds.
Couple that ride quality with refinement, frugality and immense practicality (and add in that elevated driving position, so useful on the urban ratruns), and our Qashqai emerges as an excellent all-rounder. It might not change direction like a Golf GTi, but it’s an easier car in which to tackle the school run, or a trip to the tip.
Only the fact that I have no idea what an urban experience is, let alone a good one, prevents me from declaring it the ultimate urban experience. However, I do know that it’s certainly proving itself to be an impressive owning experience, possibly for many people the ultimate.
By Mark Pearson
Week ending June 13
Miles this week 160
For months I have been struggling to get our car over the magic 50mpg mark, and always the figures, whether from the measured distance readout on the digital dash, or from our fuel card after re-fuelling, have been stuck in the 40s. Sometimes the high 40s, mind you, and sometimes the low, but never over 50mpg. Not until this week.
A family holiday to the wilds of Devon is something we knew the Qashqai would take in its stride. Passengers were content, driver was happy, luggage all fitted in and everyone appreciated that well-equipped and practical interior. The last time we made a similar journey was in a £40000 Jag, and no one seemed to notice that they were in anything inferior this time.
And then, holiday over, homeward bound, the inevitable motorway jams, and finally, some clear roads. Cruising at a respectable speed, and making up for lost time, the digital readout edged towards the magic figure. Eventually we made it to 50.1mpg, then 52.2mpg, and finally, actually going even faster than we had been for the other two figures, 53.6mpg.
Regular readers might know that I have in the past derided these digital dash displays as being over-optimistic. However, just for this moment, I want to believe this one. In my hands the Qashqai has finally achieved over 50mpg over a measured stretch, and, while it’s still not as good as our TrueMPG figure of 54.7mpg, it’s good enough for me.
By Mark Pearson
Week ending June 6
Miles this week 190
I had a couple of UK new 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 pulling power 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