Nissan Qashqai SUV

£18,545 - £28,990

While the original Nissan Qashqai of 2007 broke the family-car mould, this second-generation model is very much a case of evolution, rather than revolution. It's taken the successful recipe of the previous iteration and tweaked it, rather than starting all over again.

That's no bad thing, however. After all, as the saying goes: “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it”. So for this model, Nissan has tweaked the styling and made the car even more practical than before. In general, it's worked, as despite the high quality of the opposition – such as the Mazda CX-5, Ford Kuga, Kia Sportage and Hyundai Tucson – it's still hard to make an argument against the Qashqai.

As a family car, the Nissan ticks an awful lot of boxes. As long as you don’t go for the very top-spec version, it's reasonably priced, while the selection of petrol and diesel engines available are generally pretty efficient and provide enough oomph for day-to-day use.

Of the two petrols, we’d recommend the turbocharged 1.2-litre version. It develops 113bhp, which should be plenty for most people, while its running costs are significantly better than the 161bhp turbocharged 1.6-litre's. The less powerful petrol will return around 50mpg, while CO2 emissions stand at 129g/km, which means a £110 annual tax bill.

However, the biggest seller is the 109bhp 1.5-litre diesel. With a six-speed manual gearbox and smallest available wheels, it’ll return just over 74mpg, while its CO2 emissions are rated at just 99g/km This makes it exempt from road tax for private buyers, while company-car drivers will only be liable for 19% Benefit-in-Kind (BiK) company-car tax.

You can have your Qashqai in one of four different trim levels – Visia, Acenta, N-Connecta and Tekna. Standard equipment is pretty generous, with even the entry-level model coming with Bluetooth connectivity, cruise control, heated door mirrors, air-conditioning, as well as front and rear parking sensors. Our favourite trim level – Acenta – adds extra features like alloy wheels, a more flexible boot space, automatic lights, alloy wheels, dual-zone climate control and automatic wipers for not much more than the Visia.

Obviously, as a family car, the Qashqai has to be practical, and for the most part it is. It's slightly disappointing that there's no seven-seat version – you need to upgrade to a Nissan X-Trail if you want two extra seats – but it the Qashqai has a good-sized boot and enough room in the back for three children. Try to sit three adults across there and you might struggle, but three kids and all their paraphernalia will be able to travel without much fuss.

Alongside practicality, safety is obviously a massive concern for parents buying a family car. There's no need to worry, however, as the Qashqai received the maximum five-star safety rating from Euro NCAP, as well as plenty of standard safety kit. This includes all the mandatory equipment you’d expect, such as a variety of airbags, electronic stability control, anti-lock brakes, tyre-pressure monitoring and ISOFIX child-seat mounting points.

There's also electronic brake force distribution (which sends the optimum amount of braking force to the wheels that can deal with it best) and hill-start assistance (which prevents the car from rolling backwards during a hill start).