The rivals the 2014 Nissan Qashqai has to beat

  • The new Nissan Qashqai's key rivals
  • Their strengths and weaknesses
  • Four small SUVs and a small family hatchback
  • The Kia Sportage is good value, but is let down by its so-so driving manners

    The Kia Sportage is good value, but is let down by its so-so driving manners

  • The Mazda CX-5 is the best of the current crop of small SUVs

    The Mazda CX-5 is the best of the current crop of small SUVs

  • A recent face-lift puts the Skoda Yeti into a stronger position

    A recent face-lift puts the Skoda Yeti into a stronger position

  • The Suzuki SX4 S-Cross is one of the newest cars here, and is surprisingly good

    The Suzuki SX4 S-Cross is one of the newest cars here, and is surprisingly good

  • The Volkswagen Golf might be smaller than the Qashqai, but is a genuine rival

    The Volkswagen Golf might be smaller than the Qashqai, but is a genuine rival

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If the 2014 Nissan Qashqai is to take off where its predecessor left off, it'll have to beat some strong rivals.

When the original Qashqai was released it was almost peerless in terms of direct competitors, but now there are several strong contenders to the Qashqai's crown.

As well as the new wave of family-focused SUVs, the Nissan has to see off more traditional rivals from the small family hatchback class. Here we list the 2014 Qashqai's key competitors.

Kia Sportage

The Kia Sportage's main strong point is value. It is well priced and generously equipped. It also has one of the longest lasting warranties of any new car, at seven years and 100,000 miles.

Although the Sportage's cabin is not particularly classy, it is solidly built. Reliability should be good as well, given the previous Sportage won the 2012 JD Power survey.

Where the Kia falls down, however, is on the road. The steering is lifeless and the SUV can bounce up and down over uneven surfaces. The diesel engines are noisy, too, and a fair amount of wind and road noise makes its way into the cabin.

Mazda CX-5

As the original Qashqai has aged, it is the CX-5 that has taken its place at the top of the small SUV class.

It has loads of space for passengers and luggage, a decent amount of equipment and comes with a fantastic diesel engine with class-leading economy and emissions.

The few disappointments are the high levels of wind noise, a slightly firm ride and a few drab interior plastics.


Skoda Yeti

A recent face-lift improves both the looks and equipment on offer in the Skoda Yeti, although there has been a hike in prices across the range as a result.

We've yet to drive the facelifted model, but the current version has always boasted sharp steering and fine body control that makes it entertaining for an essentially practical car.

The practicality is hampered slightly by removable seats that are tricky to lift out and replace, however.


Suzuki SX4 S-Cross

The SX4 S-Cross is another car that puts affordability right at the top of its list of priorities. It also has a practical boot, and handles more neatly than most rivals.

The biggest bugbear with the SX4 S-Cross is its passenger space, as rear headroom is tight for tall adults, especially if you choose a model with the glass panoramic sunroof.

Otherwise it is cheap to run, and good to drive.


Volkswagen Golf

The VW Golf may not seem like a direct rival to the Qashqai, in that it sits lower than the Nissan and is not as large inside. However, it is the best small family hatchback on sale, and Nissan will be hoping to tempt buyers away from it.

The Golf is refined, comfortable and enjoyable to drive, and also comes with a well built and classy cabin.

If there are any quibbles, it's that lesser versions come with an unsophisticated rear suspension setup, and the 1.4-litre engine with cylinder shut-off is expensive.

By Tom Webster

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