My first experience of Nissan's popular Qashqai crossover involved a random selection of driving challenges, including a stop-start trip down the rain-lashed M3 motorway and a gentle waft through the wild-pony-lashed New Forest.
Climbing aboard the Qashqai for the first time, I was pleasantly surprised to find plenty of space for my 6ft-plus frame. My seven-year-old lad was enthusiastic about the elevated cabin position, too.
In fact, the compact shell of the Qashqai belies its spacious interior – at least for my one-adult-one-child requirements.
On the motorway, the 1.6-litre petrol engine needed to be worked reasonably hard to maintain decent progress (when we weren't stationary on that loathsome, two-lane section of the M3 near Winchester). A sixth gear would’ve helped – the motor was revving its little head off in fifth, which won’t have helped fuel consumption, of course.
Burbling around the New Forest, the Nissan was unremarkably competent – that lofty cabin position again keeping my wildlife-spotting lad amused.
The Qashqai seems to get most of its jobs done with little fuss, so it's easy to understand why you see so many of them. All I need to do now is try my next-door neighbour's bigger-engined, six-speed model…
Rory's Nissan Qashai on video
Week ending July 20 Mileage 26,890 Driven this week: 90 miles
With boys of three and six, I have the weekly job of chauffeuring them to Saturday morning football training. It's not a long journey, but enough to put the Qashqai to test on a few very narrow roads to the training grounds.
I loved the high seating position which meant I could judge the oncoming traffic easily. The boys were more than comfortable in the back and the boot easily swallowed all their gear, including a couple of scooters and various bags of kit.
If anything, the Qashqai's a little bit too big for our needs right now, but for a couple of active growing boys, it could be a great car for us to grow into.
2008 Nissan Qashqai 1.6 Visia Week ending July 13 Mileage 26,800 Driven this week: 50 miles
My PURE aftermarket DAB radio is working far more consistently now those extra radio masts have been erected in the London area. It takes a few seconds to lock on to a signal from start-up, but once it finds a station, the sound is clean and crisp.
It got me thinking about the Qashqai's sound system, which is excellent considering I'm driving the entry-level Visia model.
You can play around with the stereo's bass and treble for hours, but nothing beats switching its equaliser to 'enchance'. I’ve driven cars worth tens of thousands of pounds more that don't sound as good.
Week ending July 6 Mileage 26,750 Driven this week: 50 miles
Scroll back through the weekly updates for our used Qashqai and you’ll come across more than a couple of references to bikes – usually laid flat on a bed sheet across the folded rear seats. The bottom line is, the Qashqai is superbly practical, and offers loads of room inside, making it the natural choice for staff seeking a weekend workhorse.
It was while packing for a weekend away recently that I accidentally rediscovered a simple, but hugely effective, bit of practicality in the Qashqai’s boot: a bottle holder. I’d noticed it when picking the car up, but had written it off as a flimsy bit of design that wouldn’t last. Yet there it was, perfectly supporting a large bottle of gin seven months later. It doesn’t look like giving up the ghost anytime soon, either.