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Britain’s best sellers: Nissan Qashqai

Nick Francis

11 Sep 2020

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Ah, the Nissan Qashqai. Or as many call it, the Nissan Cashcow. Why? Because it’s a sales charts monster, and by far Nissan’s most popular car. The fact it’s built right here in the UK at Nissan’s Sunderland plant is a bonus. Last year 52,532 Qashqais were registered in the UK, making it the sixth most popular car and the most popular crossover or SUV. When the Qashqai arrived in 2007 it more or less had the mid-size SUV market to itself: it arguably kicked off the popularity of the segment. Since then the market has become extremely competitive, with rival models from more or less every other manufacturer, so the fact the Qashqai is still so popular should be applauded. But what exactly is it which makes the Qashqai so beloved by Brits? Let’s take a look.

What’s so good about the Nissan Qashqai?

The Qashqai more or less kicked off the modern obsession with SUVs and crossovers – at least the kind which weren’t deigned with off-roading at the forefront and aimed at families instead. To work out what’s so good about the Qashqai is effectively to ask what’s so good about a SUV: plenty of passenger and luggage space, a higher ride height commanding a good view of the road, improved safety in the event of a crash. But the Qashqai specifically has remained relevant in a chocka market by offering family-orientated tech, high comfort levels and a fresh design.

When you think about what a family wants from their day-to-day wagon, the Qashqai executes all of the requirements perfectly. It’s an easy car to drive, driving like a much smaller hatchback than an SUV, and it comes in a range of engines which offer something for everyone. The entry level engine is a 1.3 petrol which is nippy enough with 138bhp on tap, but those who want a more brisk performance can upgrade to the 158bhp version of the same engine. A choice of two diesels – 113bhp or 148bhp – means those who do higher mileages in their car have options.

It’s incredibly comfy too, with plush seats and a designed cabin which has clearly been thought about and thought about again, so everything is just-so for both driver and passengers. There’s also the abundance of safety and driver convenience tech, such as Nissan’s Pro Pilot system which can steer, brake and accelerate for you on motorways. The ride quality is good too, as is the turning circle. All of these things add up to the perfect around-town car, but one which also has enough size and guts in the engine to handle longer trips. And all of this at a very affordable price, starting at £19,995.

What’s not so good about the Nissan Qashqai?

No car is perfect, including the Qashqai. While the cabin is comfortable and well-designed, it’s not the best looking interior in the class. It’s not helped by the fact the infotainment system is quite fiddly and feels a bit cheap. But to be honest, that’s about it, and these things are not big enough to detract from the Qashqai’s other qualities – certainly not in the eye of UK car buyers.

A brief history of the Nissan Qashqai

Unlike some of the other cars we have in this series, the Qashqai doesn’t have a long history stretching back decades. It was launched in 2007 and won armies of fans thanks to its forward-thinking and bold design, and the fact it was offering the advantages of an off-roader without actually being an off-roader. So it was bigger and higher than a hatchback, but it was also front wheel drive and designed with comfort and practicality in mind.

A second generation (current generation) arrived in 2018 with updated styling, but still retained the eye-catching looks which made it so popular in the first place. The addition of class-leading driver assistance systems introduced it to a new generation of car buyer, one which is more concerned by tech than how a car drives. This second Qashqai has retained the attributes which made the first generation a success, such as plenty of space and a comfortable cabin, and today it shows no sign of waning in popularity.

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