Nissan Qashqai 1.5 dCi Acenta Premium
Week ending: September 17
Miles driven this week: 185
Read the full Nissan Qashqai review
Does absence make the heart grow fonder?
I’ve just driven our Qashqai for the first time in three weeks, it having been purloined by various colleagues for long-distance holidays. I was curious to see what it felt like after so long a gap – it’d be like trying it again for the first time.
During its absence I drove some very distinguished cars, most notably our long-term Audi A3 Saloon, which carried my family and me in great comfort to Cornwall and Suffolk.
The high-riding Qashqai initially felt odd in comparison. I’d always thought that the driving position was spot on, but in fact the gearlever now felt too far back, the steering wheel didn’t have enough adjustment for reach, and the upright driving position felt a little uncomfortable. However, this is all part of driving any SUV, and of course it all feels a little different to a more conventional saloon or hatch.
Things did improve when we moved off. Like the low-slung Audi, the Qashqai is quiet, smooth, and good to drive. Interestingly, there’s not even much in it on price either (our Qashqai costs £23,180, the Audi £24,275). The Qashqai should be the more practical, but all our luggage went into the A3 easily enough, and, despite the Audi being the quicker car, it was more economical too.
However, after that initial hesistation, I have to say it was good to be back in the Qashqai - it's a great all-rounder, can mix it with the best, and is still deservedly king of the compact SUVs.
By Mark Pearson
Week ending: September 10
Miles driven this week: 686
This was my first chance to drive our current Car of the Year, so I made it count by taking the Qashqai to the Isle of Wight for Bestival 2014 for a weekend.
I'd heard my colleagues wax lyrical about the small SUV's impressive luggage capacity and ability to carry four people in comfort, so I was expecting great things.
I'm glad to report that the Qashqai did not disappoint. My three friends and I had a lot of camping gear: tents, sleeping bags, roll mats, gallons of water and, of course, a fair amount of wine and beer (we were going to a festival after all). Eyeing up everything scattered on the floor beside the Qashqai, I wasn't sure if it would all fit in, but most of it disappeared easily beneath the handy false floor divider, so it looked like nothing had been loaded into the boot. Only the bulkier items such as rucksacks and bags needed to be slung into the remaining boot space.
Everyone loved the roomy interior too; there were no complaints from my rearseat passengers about legroom or headroom. It must've been comfortable enough as well because when we hit the inevitable Friday night traffic on the way to the ferry port at Southampton, everybody else took the opportunity to grab 40 winks.
We made the outgoing ferry with just minutes to spare; I had never crossed from Southampton before but Red Funnel Ferries (redfunnel.co.uk) couldn't have been more helpful, letting us board almost as the doors were closing. Thanks guys.
Economy was non too shabby either; the Qashqai got us to the festival and back on just less than half a tank of fuel, which, considering we were fully loaded with luggage and people, wasn't a bad effort at all.
I thought that the 1.5-litre diesel might struggle with everybody on board, but it cruised along the M3 at a respectable motorway pace. The only time it struggled was when the traffic slowed from 70mph to 60mph then sped up again, because it forced me to change down the 'box a couple of gears for some much-needed extra oomph.
Based on this experience, the Nissan will definitely be my go-to car on the What Car? fleet if I need to go away again with friends.
By Melanie Falconer
Week ending September 2
Miles driven this week 147
It's just as well that the Qashqai doesn't drink much fuel, because refilling it with diesel is actually slightly more awkward than it needs to be.
You see, if a car has one of those handy slots on the inside of the fuel flap to hold the filler cap while you're refuelling, I like to use it. I hate leaving the cap dangling down the side of the car, or taking it off and placing it on top of a grubby pump (a recipe for getting bad things into your fuel system I reckon).
Unfortunately, when you put the cap into the slot on the Qashqai's flap, then put the nozzle into the filler neck, the cap sits exactly where your knuckles need to be when you pull the trigger on the pump. You end up either trying to operate the pump with your fingertips ior you knock the cap out of the slot.
It offends my sensibilities, but the best option is to leave the cap dangling, risking scratching the paint or having errant drops of diesel dribbling down the side of the car.
Thank goodness that the Qashqai can do the good side of 600 miles between fills.
By Euan Doig