Nissan Qashqai long-term test: report 5

The Nissan Qashqai is one of the best-selling family SUVs, but is its popularity deserved? We're living with one to find out...

Nissan Qashqai 2022 long-term review photo session

The car Nissan Qashqai N-Connecta DIG-T MH 158 XTronic Run by John Bradshaw, chief photographer

Why it’s here To see if one of Britain's most popular family SUVs can cut it as an all-weather, all-purpose workhorse 

Needs to Carry heavy, bulky equipment all over the country while being comfy, safe and economical

Mileage 7265 List price £32,595 Target Price £30,760 Price as tested £33,050 Test economy 41.2mpg Official economy 44.3mpg 

5 May 2022 – Ticking the right boxes

I entertained myself during a recent road trip by pondering just what makes family SUVs, such as my Nissan Qashqai, so popular. As I mentioned in my first report, the Vauxhall Chevette Estate that my parents ran me around in was the kind of fodder that families swore by once upon a time, so just what has brought on the shift away from estate cars and family hatchbacks?

As I mulled that over, I became increasingly aware that I was looking down on the Ford Focus next to me at the traffic lights. Not in a snobby way, but a physical one. The Qashqai doesn't put me up in the sky like a Range Rover would, but its driving position is noticeably higher than that of a regular family car, and that's a definite SUV benefit. Sitting higher, you get a better view forward and you feel less vulnerable when surrounded by lorries. Plus, there's no denying that it makes you feel a bit special. 

Nissan Qashqai 2022 long-term rough track

Also, the plentiful ground clearance that high-riding SUVs offer tend to offer is a boon if you need to venture off the tarmac. They're far better at negotiating the kind of grassy, bumpy surfaces you might encounter at car boot sales or on camping trips. Yet the Qashqai certainly doesn't feel as if its greater height will make it topple over in a corner. No, unlike my previous Ford Puma ST, it doesn't have me choosing the twisty way home just for the fun of it, but its handling is as neat and tidy as any family could ask for. Perhaps the steering could have a bit more satisfying meat to it, but the Qashqai's chunky tyres – wider than were fitted to the legendarily agile rally-bred Ford Escort Cosworth of the '90s – provide plenty of cornering grip. That means there's no huge compromise over a family hatchback when it comes to driving.

And the same goes for ride comfort. In fact, at speed, the occasional bumpiness that broken urban roads can throw up all-but disappears, and things feel settled and calm. I'll wager that families are less likely to be beset by long-haul motion-sickness issues than I was in Dad's Chevette.

Nissan Qashqai 2022 caravans

If you measure practicality by loadspace alone, the Qashqai is handily outclassed by a Skoda Octavia Estate; loading luggage into the latter's enormous boot is like tossing tin cans into a cave. But if what you're loading happens to be heavy, bear in mind that the Octavia's 586kg maximum payload is only 41kg more than the Qashqai's. And, if towing features in your family's future, the Qashqai can haul an 1800kg braked trailer (such as a caravan), versus the Octavia's 1500kg.

With that little lot in mind, I can certainly understand why families go for SUVs, and I'm starting to appreciate why so many of them are Qashqais.

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