Can you get the test drive you want? Nissan

* Only 25% of dealers able to assist * We asked for two- and four-wheel drive Qashqais * 90% of cars retailed are 2WD says Nissan...

Can you get the test drive you want? Nissan

Nissan - Test drive hit rate 25%

Test drive
Nissan Qashqai
1.6 dci 130 Tekna 2WD
List price £24,890
Target Price £22,641
Nissan Qashqai
1.6 dci 130 Tekna 4WD
List price £26,445
Target Price £24,066

Why the test drive?
The Qashqai isn’t an ‘off-roader’ in the truest sense, but in 4WD form it takes rugged terrain in its stride. However, we reckon that the lighter front-wheel-drive car should be enough for most needs, and you’ll save in the showroom and through lower emissions and better fuel economy.

All the more reason then, if you’re in the market for a Qashqai and are tempted by a 4x4 but aren’t sure if you really need one, that you test it against a 2WD model to make sure.

Most buyers opt for the front-wheel drive model, so how equipped would dealers be to meet our request?

Our experience
A mixed bag of results, including a dealership that made no effort to respond to our emails and calls (Hamiltons of Barnstaple).

Just two dealers – Benfield Motors in Carlisle and Glyn Hopkin of Ipswich – offered us a test drive in both cars. Parks Irvine in Scotland was also keen to us get into both cars, but could provide only the front-wheel-drive car held in stock. They did try to source a 4WD car from elsewhere in the group, though.Two further dealerships barely acknowledged our desire to drive both models.

Nissan Leicester told us we didn’t need to bother with the 4WD because ‘the drivetrain of the two cars is exactly the same’, while SG Petch in Belmont ignored our request for a four-wheel-drive when they emailed back to offer a 2WD car.

Our most frustrating experience was with Nissan Hanwell, part of the West London Motor Group. Our email bounced back and then the automated phone system put us through to an engaged line. We persevered and finally got hold of a salesman. Unfortunately, he wasn’t much help, telling us: ‘All Qashqais are four-wheel drive and you can choose to select two-wheel-drive’.

Sound advice was given by the Wessex Garages in Cardiff and Parks Irvine; both recommended the 2WD unless we were planning to drive off-road or in difficult conditions regularly. Neither could offer us a 4WD to try, though. While we’re pleased they didn’t try to sell us a car we didn’t need, we’d have liked to make up our own minds.

How Nissan dealers scored
Promptness of response 
Understanding of buyer’s concerns 
Product knowledge 
Willingness to arrange test drive 
Ability to arrange test drive 
Promptness of test drive 
Overall rating 

Our verdict
Just two of the eight Nissan dealerships we approached could get us into the specific cars we requested, and while we were impressed that none attempted to up-sell us into the 4WD unnecessarily, none really made the effort to find out about our driving requirements, and it was disappointing that we weren’t given the opportunity to make our own call on the best car for our needs.

Nissan says…
Nissan explains that 10% of Qashqais sold are 4WDs, and so it doesn’t expect every dealer to run one as a demonstrator. However, it regrets more don’t seem to be making use of its central demo fleet.
It also directs buyers towards its online test drive booking system, which displays which dealers in the country stock what cars. Nissan hopes to increase its dealers’ product knowledge with a new accreditation programme, and boost customer service with an online star rating system.

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