Nissan Qashqai

Nissan continues to be one of the UK's favourite car producers, and models like the Qashqai - the second generation of which was released last year to universal acclaim from the motoring world - shows exactly why drivers keep coming back for more.

If you're in the market for a slick and stylish family run-around, capable of handling stop-start urban school runs as well as long cross-country road trips, the Qashqai could be right up your street. Here's our take on Nissan's stand-out new arrival.

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Function

Spacious, reliable and, most importantly, super safe (in the right hands, of course), the Qashqai is a genuine family motor. You can easily accommodate two adults in the back, let alone little ones, and the leg room is generous enough that they'll be comfortable too.

Granted, the boot isn't quite as large as some of those hefty looking 4x4s people take on vacation with them, but it's wide enough for a big weekly shop or a couple of moderately sized holiday cases. There's also a few cubby holes for drinks and so forth dotted around the front of the car.

Drivability

Nissan are renowned for producing cars with steady, no-frills peformance, and that's exactly what they've delivered with the second generation Qashqai. Sufficed to say, when you're dealing with a big family estate your priority isn't necessarily agility (which is not to say the Qashqai is a slouch).

The handling is excellent and steering is plenty responsive enough that you'll feel confident driving at speed and around those sharp bends, for which the Qashqai offers steady grip. The manual gearbox and modern, stripped-back dashboard layout is perfectly ordinary if nothing else - like we said, it's all about function, not flair.

Cost

The standard spec Qashqai is on the market, new, for a little more than £18,500. Bearing mind that some 4x4s (many of which, admittedly, are a little bulkier) are retailing at upwards of £25,000, that's not a bad initial outlay. Obviously, we must preface this by saying that - the model being such a recent launch - it's difficult to say what kind of shelf-life you can expect, or to what extent it will depreciate in value in the years ahead.

What we do know is that its fuel economy is, as family cars go, fairly impressive - particularly if you opt for the slightly dearer 1.5 litre diesel engine which they say runs at around 74mpg (the unleaded 1.2 litre is around 50mpg). Running costs in today's market are perhaps the most important consideration to weigh up, and we're giving the Qashqai a big thumbs up on that front.

Our verdict

The roomy Qashqai is a pretty good approximation of a classic 4x4, but with the running costs and performance of a modern family hatchback. The price is fair, and with Nissan's reputation for durability and reliability, it's looking like a worthwhile investment compared to many of its competitors.

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