Friday, 14 December 2018

Luxury all-rounder ticks all boxes

Luxury all-rounder ticks all boxes

WHAT makes a car stand out from the rest, particularly today where so many models seem to have come off the same designer’s drawing board?

Often it can be that mystical ingredient that was factored into the car’s concept at some stage that only becomes apparent in the driving.

If a car does — to use today’s overused cliché — tick all the boxes, then what exactly is it about that particular model that makes it fulfil all this criteria and stand out from the rest?

My thoughts turned to this after an extraordinarily good drive this week in a Nissan Qashqai.

I have driven numerous variants of the Qashqai and there is no getting away from it — it is a very good car, an all-rounder to appreciate in a market place where often cars fail to fulfil the owner’s full wish list.

This car appeared to have everything. Great pace on the motorway, great comfort both seating-wise and cabin ambience, very good fuel economy and a comprehensive list of standard equipment as long as your arm.

The Qashqai, which is built in Britain at Nissan’s Sunderland plant, is a compact crossover SUV (sport utility vehicle).

It is the most successful model in Europe in Nissan’s 83-year history, with approximately 2.3 million sold since the original version was launched in 2007. Drive it and you can see why.

Of course, with any car, as I have said many times, the quality of the final product you buy and the satisfaction you get depends very much on the car’s specification.

The version I have been driving was what is called the Tekna+ grade. This is the flagship of the model line-up above Visia, Acenta, N-Connecta and Tekna. I concede that this was the highest specification Qashqai and therefore the best available but it still came in pricewise at just under £35,000.

An SUV with the kind of equipment the Qashqai Tekna+ offers from another carmaker could cost you upwards of twice that amount of money.

Yet how much “luxury” do you want in a car? There was plenty in this Qashqai Tekna+ including black nappa leather trim with 3D quilting. Black leather is standard, with the choice of a rich plum colour as a £495 option.

There are also heated front seats, electrically adjustable four-way lumbar support on the driver’s seat, a Premium BOSE Audio System, rear privacy glass, and panoramic glass roof. As I said, the list of standard equipment on this top of the range vehicle was long and comprehensive.

Nissan calls it the ultimate Qashqai and you would have a job arguing with that. However, there is still the fact that this car is a diesel and carmakers are moving quickly to enhance petrol models. Nissan is no exception and the Qashqai is now on sale with an all-new 1.3-litre petrol engine. I hope to drive the car with this new engine soon and report back. The new engine — which is available in 140 PS and 160 PS outputs — delivers reduced fuel consumption and lower CO2 emissions and makes its Nissan debut in the Qashqai.

Back to this week’s drive where the engine was a 1,598cc diesel, that produced CO2 emissions of 122g/km and delivered 60.1mpg on the combined cycle.

The driver’s seat features another first for Nissan Europe — an electrically controlled four-way pneumatic lumbar support.

This allows drivers to fine-tune their seating position, enhancing comfort and reducing fatigue.

I would like to see this feature as standard on many other models. Driving is a sedentary occupation whichever way you look at it so our bodies need all the support they can get not only in the driver’s seat but in all other seats in a car as well.

It is a truism that there are more expensive SUVs around that offer consideration to every person traveling in the car.

I hope that this kind of consideration for everyone in a car, not only the driver, becomes more prevalent in car production across the board.

A seat memory function with two stored positions has been added, linked to the door mirrors. This is a unique feature on any Nissan Europe model today, with operation via buttons on the seat’s lower finisher.

Standard on Tekna+ is the new BOSE Premium eight-speaker audio system, which offers great sounds from your music streaming. But there is also a CD player, which has to be a plus for me in any vehicle.

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