One of the benefits of car-free living is that because I hire a car every couple of weeks for the small number of journeys which can’t be achieved by rail or bicycle. I drive lots of new, mid-priced saloons. This means A Very British Dude is an excellent place to read a car review, by someone who hates driving, yet has plenty of experience of driving lots of different cars. What’s the point of reading a review by a driving enthusiast, if you’re not?
I was disapointed when the guy at Luton Airport Hertz handed over the keys to a car advertised like a training shoe, in the “crossover” category. Basically this means it’s a Hatchback, designed to look like a 4×4 to give suburban mums a feeling of superiority from an elevated driving position, and the completely misguided feeling of safety and invincibility this brings. In short, exactly the kind of car I loathe, driven by tosspots I detest. A Nissan QashQai. Specifically a 1.6 litre, 5 door ntec+ version. However. For a country road shlepp on a wet bank holiday weekend, with toddlers and a bicycle, the car made sense.
It would take my canoe, if needed. (My standard measure of “big enough”). The seats folded flat very simply. The interior was well thought out, without stupid cubby holes, but instead well thought out stowage. Nowhere to put a mobile phone though which seems odd for a car so well set up. The rear visibility was dreadful with small windows leaving enormous blind-spots. This was only partially offset by a rear reversing camera, a toy I can’t see myself trusting.
So, what was my toss-pot wagon like to drive? There was no obvious hostility from other road-users compared to the BMW I hired recently (but don’t like to talk about). There were no rattles and shakes, and the whole car had a feeling of being well put together, justifying Sunderland’s reputation as an efficient car-plant. The road-holding was excellent, the ride was comfortable, the stereo was easy to use, and gave good quality sound. Radio 3 was playing music written before 1800 (no dischordant modernist nonsense) so when the M1 traffic slowed, I took the next junction and went cross country. Off the motorway, I found myself actually enjoying driving the bloody thing, pootling back across Bedfordshire, I saw the point of built in sat-nav, having never used a car so equipped before. So having already left the motorway, instead of taking the quicker A road route, I took the shorter, but slower twisty route through the villages.
The car cruises down a motorway or along an A-road pretty smoothly, but in the country, the engine was strangely gutless, and the gear-box was sloppy. But despite this, I liked the car. If you gave it enough revs, it was nippy enough. The elevated driving postition had surprisingly little effect on handling in the corners and I found myself chucking it into the bends with a bit of abandon. I may even have turned the traction control off.
I averaged 36.8 miles per Gallon, without driving like a pensioner. Funnily enough, this was absolutely identical to the milage I got for the same journey with a Fiat Stilo 1.2, which makes a mockery of the Government’s CO2 emissions banding for VED. £16 Grand will buy you a bottom of the range model QashQai, however I would go for a 2-litre engine and leather seats of the Tenka Trim, which will take the price well over £22,000.
This is a lot of money for a car which makes you look like a tosspot whose husband can’t afford the BMW X5 you really wanted, for which you’re having an affair with the Golf-pro. Which is a shame, because it’s actually a pretty decent little car.
Would I buy one? Probably not. But if you want one, you can spec it here but if I was in the market for a £22,000 skate shoe Nissan would have lost a sale for their shitty flash, which twice crashed my computer.