Nissan Qashqai SUV

£18,545 - £28,910

When it launched in 2007, the original Nissan Qashqai pretty much invented the now hugely popular crossover class in Europe. Models like this combine the practicality and low running costs of a typical family car with the rugged styling and raised driving position of an SUV.

This second-generation Qashqai has been around since early 2014 and thanks to the runaway sales success of its predecessor, it faces a whole host of similar rivals, such as the Volkswagen Tiguan, Audi Q3, Ford Kuga, Mazda CX-5, Kia Sportage. Another key competitor, the Renault Kadjar, is actually a sister model to the Qashqai, sharing some mechanical parts under the metal. The Dacia Duster, meanwhile, offers a low-budget alternative to these sometimes-pricey cars.

Making the case for the Qashqai in this crowded field is some smart and sharp styling and a four-strong range of engines: you have a choice of a 1.2 or a 1.6-litre petrol, as well as a 1.5 or 1.6-litre diesel. All have their merits – the 1.2-litre petrol is particularly suited to sprightly driving around town, while the 1.6-litre diesel is a decent motorway cruiser.

Our favourite is actually the 1.5-litre diesel, though, thanks to its impressive 70mpg claimed fuel-economy figure. And whichever engine you choose, you’ll enjoy the Qashqai's characteristic composed handling, responsive steering and well-judged ride quality.

Other plus points of this car include a large boot and roomy cabin, as well as a generous amount of standard equipment on even the cheapest Visia version. Kit includes a five-inch colour screen, electric windows on all four doors, a height-adjustable driver's seat, cruise control and air-con.

The Qashqai is reassuringly safe, having secured the maximum five-star rating from the crash-test experts at Euro NCAP. Customer satisfaction is a little patchier, though, as evidenced by a poor result for Nissan in our annual Driver Power owner survey and a mid-table result for the Qashqai itself.

In our best 4x4s and SUVs video below, we compare the Nissan Qashqai to two of its biggest rivals: the Mazda CX-5 and the good-value Dacia Duster: