Winner SUV Nissan Qashqai 1.5 dCi Acenta Age 2008/58 Dealer price £9555 Private price £8845
The Qashqai was the overall winner last year, and it still has what it takes to win its category.
It’s really a small family car in disguise, but takes a different approach from that of rivals, such as the Ford Focus and Volkswagen Golf, by sitting taller and having more ground clearance. The result is plenty of cabin space, a generous boot and a commanding view.
Despite this taller stance, the Qashqai still drives well. There is plenty of grip and the steering is well weighted. The suspension deals with everything our road builders can throw at it, while there’s little wind and road noise.
Inside, there’s a solid, durable yet classy feel, with plenty of soft-touch materials and a superb finish. The driving position is good and all the seats are supportive.
The 1.6 Visia was our champion last year, but a surge of Qashqais from Motability has hit the used market, pushing down prices enough to persuade our panel to choose diesel and a higher trim: 1.5 dCi Acenta. The 1.5-litre diesel engine develops 104bhp and handles the car’ weight well; standard equipment includes climate control, alloy wheels, electric windows, Bluetooth, a CD multichanger and parking sensors.
The Qashqai continues to be reliable, too, with trim rattles and a manufacturer-known rear suspension fault the only real issues raised by owners. Make sure the car you’re viewing has been in for its minor fuel system recall before you buy.
Hyundai Santa Fe 2.2 CRTD CDX 7st ’08/58, £10,695 Put the Santa Fe on your shortlist if you’re looking for a capable SUV that won’t cost a fortune to buy. It’s also a great tow car.
Volkswagen Tiguan 2.0 TDI SE ’08/08, £12,375 This VW is a practical car, with room for five and rear seats that slide for legroom or boot space. The diesel engine is economical and quiet, too.
Judge's view David Gerrans Group development director, Warranty Direct 'Last year’s top dog is hard to displace. Reliable, comfortable, economical and a firm favourite on the school run, it could easily win again next year.'