The Nissan Qashqai was originally launched in 2007 and was almost single-handedly responsible for the advent of the incredibly successful crossover market in Europe. The Qashqai was one of the first cars that delivered both the low running costs of a standard family hatchback with the styling and elevated driving position of an SUV.
The current, second-generation Qashqai was introduced at the beginning of 2014 and has much more competition than the first version did back in 2007. It was largely down to the success of the first Qashqai that cars like the Volkswagen Tiguan, Audi Q3, Ford Kuga, Mazda CX-5 and Kia Sportage were launched. The Renault Kadjar arrived even more recently, and is a particularly worthy rival to the Qashqai, perhaps because it shares a number of mechanical parts. There is also the Dacia Duster, which is the budget alternative to all these more expensive mainstream options.
The latest Qashqai is a much more stylish car to behold than the previous model and the range of engines on offer is strong. There are 1.2-litre and 1.6-litre petrol engines, as well as a 1.5-litre and 1.6-litre diesel. The 1.2-litre petrol engine is particularly adept around town, while the 1.6-litre diesel engine makes the Qashqai a very competent car for motorway cruising, so there are choices for a broad spectrum of buyers.
Our pick is the 1.5-litre diesel, which is capable of an impressive 70mpg. Rest assured, though, that whichever engine you plump for, the Qashqai retains its composed handling, responsive steering and compliant ride regardless.
The Qashqai feels spacious inside and has a big boot. Even the entry-level Visia model comes with a decent level of kit, including a five-inch colour screen for the infotainment system, electric windows all-round, air-conditioning, cruise control and a height adjustable driver's seat. The Acenta and Acenta Premium models offer a good blend of equipment and value-for-money, while the top-spec Tekna is loaded with extras, but is quite expensive.
Euro NCAP awarded the Qashqai the maximum five-star rating when it subjected the car to its crash test programme. Things are not quite as rosy when it comes to customer satisfaction though, with the Qashqai only managing a mid-table result and Nissan doing poorly as a brand in our annual Driver Power suvey.
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: