Nissan Qashqai Visia
The 1.6-litre petrol engine is suitable for most needs and is available with a stop-start system for an extra £100. The economical 1.5-litre diesel is a good choice if you travel long distances.
Nissan doesn’t have a conventional hatchback to rival the Ford Focus or VW Golf. Instead, it has developed the Qashqai, which is about as long and wide as a Golf, but has the high-riding looks of a 4x4. That means it has the easy access and commanding driving position of the latter but the fuel economy and emissions of a regular hatchback. Visia is the entry-level Qashqai, and is offered with 1.6 and 2.0-litre petrol engines or 1.5 and 2.0-litre dCi diesels. They offer a good balance of performance and economy. The 1.6 is available with optional stop-start to improve fuel consumption still further, while the 1.5 is available as a Pure Drive model with less aerodynamic drag to achieve the same result. Standard features include air conditioning, electric windows and mirrors, Bluetooth, remote locking, electronic stability control and alloy wheels.
Spacious, easy to get in and out of, versatile and comfortable…the Qashqai has all the attributes of a sensible family car that doesn’t cost too much. It's safe and reliable, too, although there have been a number of recalls in the past. Add a big, rectangular boot and solid build quality, and it's no wonder it has sold in such numbers and spawned a host of copycat models from other manufacturers. To drive, it's light, stable, safe and undemanding, with low running costs and respectable fuel consumption. The only worry is that resale values are a bit weak, largely because of the numbers sold. The petrol engines are Nissan's, while the diesels have been adapted from Renault units.
The 2.0-litre engines don’t make economic sense in a mid-sized family car, as they cost more to run, and even the Pure Drive diesel doesn’t improve the fuel economy or emissions figures to a point where we’d recommend it to private or fleet users. The interior trim, although solid and seemingly unbreakable, is not up to the quality of rivals such as the VW Golf and Vauxhall Astra, and Nissan as a brand, rather than the Qashqai as a car, does not have the most dynamic image. The result is that secondhand values are merely average, not least because of the numbers out there.