The market for crossover SUVs is one of the most lucrative and fiercely contested in the automotive market, with almost every major manufacturer attempting to steal a march on their rivals.
Despite this stiff competition, the Nissan Qashqai and Juke models emerged as the country’s most popular SUVs by some margin in 2014. Indeed, with 49,909 units sold during the year, the Qashqai was the sixth best-selling vehicle in any class, whilst the Juke was in 10th place with 39,263 sold. Industry observers, moreover, have been extremely impressed by the capabilities of both models; the Qashqai in particular has consistently outmatched its SUV counterparts from both “budget” and “premium” brands, winning the prestigious What Car? award for “Best Compact SUV” for the previous consecutive two years.
Its plethora of rivals also boast assertive looks, good visibility, and a comfortable interior providing ample storage space – yet the Qashqai stands out for a number of reasons. One is its revamped engine range of two petrol and four diesel units. As well as allowing buyers a great deal of scope in which to choose a powertrain that suits them best, each engine delivers an enviable level of refinement and – even the “entry-level” 1.2 litre 115PS petrol engine is capable and responsive when driving on both urban and fast roads. Extremely low levels of noise, vibration and harshness enhance the serene feel of the cabin; this is especially the case in models fitted with the 1.5 litre dCi diesel, which creates cabin noise of just 62dB when travelling at 50mph – significantly less than the majority of cars in this class.
The 1.5 litre, 110PS dCi is also the most fuel efficient and environmentally friendly engine available with any current medium-sized SUV. With combined fuel consumption of 74.3mpg and extraordinarily low CO2 emissions of 99g/km, this version of the Qashqai is far ahead of its nearest comparable counterparts the Suzuki SX4 S-Cross (the most economical edition of which offers fuel economy of 67.2mpg and CO2 output of 110g/km), the Vauxhall Mokka (62.8mpg, 120g/km), and the Skoda Yeti (61.4mpg, 119g/km). In addition to lowering owners’ fuel bills in a way that its rivals cannot, the Qashqai’s low CO2 emissions makes it extremely appealing to company car drivers and fleet buyers attracted by reduced Benefit-in-Kind tax. Carbon discharge of 99g/km also exempts this model from Vehicle Excise Duty, rendering it a better prospect still for both private and business customers.
Generous equipment levels also play a part in making the Qashqai the best-selling model in its class. The N-Tec edition for example, features amenities including a DAB digital radio, satellite navigation with a 7” touchscreen, dual-zone climate control, ambient lighting, rain-sensing windscreen wipers, and 18” alloy wheels. Competitors in the same bracket tend to either lack this level equipment (except as expensive options, as in the case of the Skoda Yeti or Citroen C4 Cactus), or have it as standard but with an OTR price at a premium of hundreds or thousands of pounds over the Qashqai (as with the Mazda CX-5, the Audi Q3 and Range Rover Evoque).
Ultimately, the success of the Qashqai is due to outdoing its peers in the essential areas of fuel economy, standard equipment, and simple driving enjoyment. Even in areas where it does not lead the class, such as maximum interior loadspace (its 1585 litres is exceeded by the Peugeot 3008’s 1604 litres and the CX-5’s 1620 litres, for example) it is still ahead of the vast majority of the competition, meaning that it has no real weak link. With prices starting at £18,265, along with the aforementioned low running costs and tax benefits, the Nissan Qashqai is the crossover SUV that provides the best overall package for both business users and families. At present, no other model in this segment provides the same mix of good looks, economy, build quality, refinement, and value.