The Qashqai kicked off the modern crossover revolution – and it’s still the best. Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, and although many rivals come close, none can knock the Nissan off top spot in this class.
This second-generation model is stronger than ever. The British-built Qashqai has plenty of style, but despite its crisp looks, Nissan hasn’t forgotten its family car roots. It’s a striking alternative to a regular hatchback, and with a big 430-litre boot there’s plenty of space on offer.
This is reflected inside, too, as the cabin is roomy and smart thanks to a sweeping dash design and advanced tech. Foremost among this is Nissan’s clever Safety Shield, which features protective extras such as blind-spot warning, moving object detection and a 360-degree around view camera system, while options include autonomous braking and full LED headlights.
Tech under the bonnet is a match for the rest of the car, as the compact but impressive range of engines returns strong efficiency. The 1.5- litre dCi turbodiesel emits just 99g/km of CO2, meaning you won’t have to pay any road tax. Even the more powerful 1.6 dCi is clean, while the 1.2 DIG-T petrol delivers a good blend of performance and economy, due to its tiny turbo.
There’s not too much noise from the diesel engines and the soft but composed chassis rides all surfaces with a real composure. It means you can cruise for long distances in lots of comfort, but turn off the motorway and have fun when you want to. Plus with four-wheel drive and auto boxes on offer, there’s plenty of choice, too.
Qashqai 1.5 dCi Acenta Premium (£23,730)
Safety Shield technology comes as standard on the Acenta Premium, which represents the best mix of equipment and value. Add in the frugal 1.5-litre diesel engine and the Qashqai is a cost-effective, quality family car which also comes with a real sense of style.
Citroen’s fresh approach to crossover design still looks great, and the C4 Cactus offers something different again thanks to its fashion-focused interior, unusual design and body-protecting trademark Airbumps. Low prices, frugal engines and a soft ride mean it’s a comfortable crossover that should be on any buyer’s shortlist.
Hitting the market earlier this year, the CX-3 offers everything that we would expect from a Mazda crossover. It’s great to drive with punchy engines and a lovely chassis, plus it also has a practical, premium cabin. Smart looks and efficient engines mean the CX-3 should follow in the larger Mazda CX-5’s successful footsteps.
Auto Express New Car Awards 2015
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