Reasonable to drive and smooth over bumps but tall shape means some body lean can be felt in corners
Tall driving position is great for peering over hedges and there's enough adjustment for all shapes and sizes to get comfortable
Six airbags, stability control and active headrests. Tough security protection
Engine is unlikely to give you any trouble, and the cabin is furnished with top quality materials
Back seats are most comfortable for two but the boot is big and well shaped, so no-one has to sit on their suitcase
All get air-con, alloys and Bluetooth, but upgrade for a panoramic glass roof or reversing sensors
It may look like a mini 4x4, but most people buy the Nissan Qashqai (say 'cash-kai') in two-wheel drive form, so it's really a rival to the VW Golf and Ford Focus. Our favourite engine is the 1.6-litre diesel with 128bhp - it's powerful, quiet and very restrained on fuel. The cheaper 1.6-litre petrol is also perfectly capable and, if you want it, four-wheel drive is available on selected versions.
The Qashqai's high ground clearance means it leans through bends more than the average hathchback, though not to the extent that you'll be reaching for the travel-sickness pills.
The high-set driving position is great for peering into gardens and over the traffic ahead. The rearward view is slightly compromised by the thick rear pillars, though.
The rear seats are comfortable for two adults or three children, and both outer rear seats have ISOFIX attachments. The boot is large but annoyingly the rear seats don't fold completely flat when you want to carry bigger items.
All models come with air-conditioning, CD player, Bluetooth hands-free phone kit and alloy wheels. More expensive versions add anything from sat-nav to a panoramic sunroof.
The Qashqai came second in its class in the most recent JD Power ownership satisfaction survey, losing out only to the similarly priced Kia Sportage. Mechanical reliability was rated 'above average'.
Stability control is standard to help stop sliding off the road, while front, side and curtain airbags will cushion the blow if you do have a crash. The Qashqai hasnt been tested under the latest Euro NCAP crash-testing programme, but was awarded five stars for adult safety and four stars for child protection under the old system.
Nissan started the 'crossover' niche with the Qashqai, and the original remains one of the best of its kind if youre after an interesting alternative to a normal small family hatchback. Prices wont blow the budget, and resale values are remarkably strong. Running costs for the 1.6-litre diesel are easy on the wallet too, with impressive average fuel consumption of 63mpg.