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Is the Nissan Qashqai still the best crossover?

By raccars Published

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The Nissan Qashqai has led the small SUV or crossover market since its release in 2007, but in what has become a crowded marketplace, is it still the best?

The Nissan Qashqai brought new levels of practicality and user friendliness to the family car market and inspired other manufacturers to rush into the fray. Now, no car maker's model line-up is complete without a small SUV or crossover. And while it might be overstating the case to say this can be entirely laid at the Qashqai's door, there's no doubt that it has been an extremely influential car.

A few years after the Qashqai was launched, Nissan came up with its slightly smaller sibling, the Juke, which similarly spurred a run on smaller, compact SUVs, although its impact was less dramatic than that of the Qashqai.

The Nissan Qashqai is usually to be found hovering around the middle of the top ten best-selling new cars list in the UK. The first generation model was replaced last year by a well thought out second generation model, which built on the first model's strengths and seems set to be just as successful. In the meantime however, rival crossovers are popping up left, right and centre. If you are looking for a comfortable, practical and affordable family car, will the Qashqai remain the default crossover choice or is it worth casting your net a little wider?

It turns out that the Qashqai has little to fear from a direct comparison with other crossovers. In nearly every area you look at, it performs well. All crossovers tend to be well equipped with family friendly accoutrements such as folding seats, luggage restraints, bag hooks, storage cubby holes and other neat features, but the Nissan probably has the edge on driving dynamics and equipment levels.

The Renault Kadjar

The Renault Kadjar has to be considered serious competition for the Qashqai, not least because the corporate alliance between Renault and Nissan means that the two cars share a number of components. Both cars use the same basic chassis and engine range. Driving dynamics are also similar - the Kadjar's slightly lighter steering is balanced out by the Qashqai in the form of better feedback and body control. Renault has clearly put a great deal of thought into the Kadjar but overall the Qashqai is a smoother and more refined creature.

Peugeot 3008

The French have taken to the crossover trend with great enthusiasm and French manufacturers offer a number of interesting models to compete with the Qashqai. The Peugeot 3008 is chic and stylish but is slightly unwilling on the road. You have to work your right foot hard to enjoy any decent power delivery and it wallows somewhat around corners.

It also lags behind the Qashqai and Kadjar in handling quality. From the inside the 3008 is less spacious than the other two cars and the dashboard is rather cluttered looking, and once again the Qashqai stands out from its French rivals in terms of fit and finish. The 3008 does offer a useful split tailgate but its cargo space is a little smaller than the other two.

However, where the 3008 does shine is in the innovative touches that add personality, such as the heads-up display and panoramic glass sunroof, which make it a good value prospect compared with the other two. With a lower list price than the Qashqai and the Kadjar it may look more appealing, but residual values are expected to be lower so there's very little to gain there in the longer term.

Overall the Nissan Qashqai is still the one to beat, despite its higher list price. The Renault Kadjar comes a close second but is still learning from the master, while it's time Peugeot looked at updating the 3008 if it doesn't want to be left out in the cold.

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