Living in London, I am all too aware of the struggles when it comes to choosing what car to buy. Sure, you want to get the most bang for your buck and space for your spending, but there are also very real limitations when it comes to the practicalities of congested streets and tricky parallel parking. Crossovers (that occupy that spot between hatchbacks and fully fledged 4X4s) are the logical choice if you want the best of both worlds, and I was lucky enough to be invited to Vienna to put the latest version of the Nissan Qashqai through its paces; a vehicle that has been at the forefront of crossover innovation for the past ten years.
As per usual, let’s start with the parts of the car that you see the most; the exterior. The immediate thing that hits you is the vivid colour palette. Gone are the days of bland tones, with the new spectrum of colours being bold and colourful, adding depth and a real ‘pop’ to the sleeker and more refined bodywork. Speaking of bodywork, angles have all been sharpened and improved, with the entire Qashqai looking a lot more sporty and urban than its predecessors. Even the lights have had a facelift, looking sharper and slightly more aggressive in their stance, eyeing up the road ahead with a determined stare.
Inside, the premium experience continues in the way the car is built and finished. Beautifully crafted leather seats in a bucket style offer full support for your back and were extremely comfortable for the duration of the trip; something very important to me. The driving position is similar to a number of other 4X4 vehicles in that you have full visibility from a slightly raised seat, left, right and centre. Look up and the panoramic sunroof is unbelievably huge; almost a widescreen view to the clouds above. The premium finish is further complemented by a very crisp sound system, courtesy of Bose. You can seamlessly close off the world around you and there is a real richness and depth in the audio quality that reverberates around the cabin.
Under the bonnet there are a number of fuel-efficient options to cater for every taste, but for me the real magic was in the intelligent assist modes that all contribute to being a more efficient, and hopefully safer, driver. Lane Assist was vital when negotiating the tight turns of Vienna on the wrong side of the road, gently nudging me when I veered a little too close to the middle of the road. Throw in a very intelligent set of parking and reversing sensors and the car was very easy to handle. Crossovers are always a strange breed to identify and the Qashqai is no different (in a good way, of course). While you are ostensibly driving a 4X4 vehicle with 4X4 capabilities, you genuinely feel like you are weaving through traffic in a hot hatchback.
Overall, Nissan have really refined an already excellent product in their latest version of the Qashqai. Being unashamedly superficial when it comes to cars, looks are important to me, and the urban design does make the car look that little bit meaner. Inside the subtle improvements all added to a comfortable driving experience when clocking up the miles. At the very least, the Nissan Qashqai is the perfect transition for those who still want the manoeuvrability of a hatchback with the space and presence of a 4X4.
The Nissan Qashqai is available OTR from £18,955.