Nissan Qashqai n-tec dCi 1.5 manual review - Time Out London

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Nissan has already produced one of the funkiest-looking SUVs in its popular, futuristic-looking Murano - and now it has an uber-cool stablemate in the new Qashqai.

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    On the road price: £19,150

    Designed ostensibly for the urban environment, the handsome Qashqai's stocky stance is extremely pleasing on the eye. To all intents and purposes it looks like an all-terrain SUV, yet it drives more like a car. The six-gear, two-wheel drive variant on test is powered by a refined and remarkably quiet 1.5-litre diesel engine which, for its diminutive size, delivers ample acceleration in the real world.

    From an environmental point of view, the Qashqai produces a commendable set of figures: up to 47 mpg in town and a truly impressive 58 mpg on the motorway. Similarly, its all-important CO2 output rating is a paltry 139 g/km. The Qashqai's driving position offers a grand view of the road ahead and, despite the higher centre of gravity, it behaves confidently round corners. In town, its high clearance and nicely dialled suspension makes mincemeat of speed bumps. It's also easy to manoeuvre in traffic and a doddle to park. Moreover, boot space is ample for a family of four and there's plenty of rear legroom to boot.

    What really impressed me about this car is its interior design and the host of fancy add-ons it comes with. When I first got into it, I was struck by the comfy driving position, the neat lines of the dash and the cosy looking rear passenger space. Then I noticed that the ceiling's lining suggested some kind of mechanism. A flick of a switch above the driver caused the whole lining to move to the rear to expose the biggest sheet of roof glass since Renault's Avantime.

    The bods at Nissan's design centre in Paddington clearly thought long and hard about this car's youthful target buyer, so they've filled it with a delectable range of very useful toys. Now, normally I would suggest avoiding an optional integrated sat-nav system and buying a portable TomTom instead. This is because the vast majority are simply too complicated to get around without recourse to the car manual. But not this one. Selecting a destination on the Nissan Connect interface is so intuitive it takes little more than a few simple key strokes to set up. But that's not all. The same interface also features a rear parking camera which allows the driver to manoeuvre to within a few centimetres of the car behind. Furthermore, it also comes with an on-screen grid reference to aid parking.Then I tried the Bluetooth mobile phone set-up. Expecting a complete rigmarole, I was confounded by the ease with which I could link it to my phone. I simply asked my Nokia to search for local Bluetooth devices and, lo and behold, up came the word Nissan. One press of the phone's button and I was linked up and ready enjoy a phone conversation without my hands having to leave the steering wheel. A built in microphone above the centre console picks up the driver's voice while the car's excellent CD/radio sound system relays the voice of the person he or she is talking to. Got an iPod? No problem. Just plug it into the mini-jack inside the centre storage compartment. It'll even take a USB stick. The anti-SUV brigade have little cause for concern with this car because it's half a metre shorter than a Ford Mondeo saloon and narrower by nearly nine centimetres. And that's pretty impressive for an SUV. As a young person's do-it-all runaround, it ticks all the right boxes. It drives well, looks great, is remarkably economical, and, being a Nissan, it'll likely turn out to be reassuringly reliable, too.
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