Our Fleet Test Drive: Nissan Qashqai - Final Report
14 April 2008
Author: Guy Bird
Blazing a trail requires balls, and Nissan proved it had big ones when it ditched the idea of launching another me-too hatchback and instead released its compact crossover Qashqai back in 2007.
The model was Nissan UK's second best-selling business car in 2007, behind the Note and in front of the Micra, with 8467 sales in less than 12 months, and having run one since last August, it's become increasingly clear why it has been such hit.
The positives make a long list: a distinctive, chunky but coupe-like exterior, great interior space, style and load-luggage flexibility , a useful high-up driving position, and the fantastically able 105PS 1.5dCi diesel engine under the bonnet.
The perky unit was comfortable in the city and more surprisingly, had enough power for motorways too. Not once did I wish for four-wheel drive, the 2WD proving perfectly adequate and paying off at the fuel pump too. Despite a mainly urban habitat, it only once dipped below 40mpg, reached a 44mpg high and averaged 40.9mpg.
The car's 145g/km CO2 figure equated to a 19% BIK tax band, but recent tweaks on new versions have brought emissions down to 139g/km. So despite tax bands tightening in April, buy one today and you'll actually enjoy a lower 18% BIK rate, although prices have gone up slightly - this model now has a £16,449 P11D.
Of the options, we were happiest with the feeling of space the superb £700 fixed panoramic roof  brought and reassured by ESP at £365, although that should be made standard.
Other gripes were strictly minor: we soon got the revs right in first gear, the hatchback got better at shutting first time, and although the folding wing mirrors intermittently failed to open and the rear offside electric window occasionally played up, none of these things could dampen overall enthusiasm. Even the tricky name  doesn't irritate anymore: a bit like 'Jamiroquai', if you say the word enough times you soon get used to it.
The Qashqai is a great all-rounder and if demand remains high, and reliability good, costs for fleets will stay low. Others are now following - the Ford Kuga et al - but the Qashqai has truly defined a new segment.