From £17,9657

Comfortable, practical and pleasant family car now gets cleaner and more refined motor

I’d be surprised if you didn’t know because Nissan has sold more than one million examples of the Brit-built Nissan Qashqai since its launch in 2007, and with good reason.

A comfortable and practical cabin, confidence-inspiring driving position and the option of four-wheel drive is a combination that makes a lot of sense for a lot of buyers.

If the lifestyle calls for a big seven-seat family car this is properly well-sorted and likeable transport

In recent years the engines have aged the Nissan Qashqai and so the firm is remedying that with excellent real-world results. The 2.0-litre turbodiesel is being replaced with this 129bhp 1.6-litre turbodiesel motor, jointly developed with Renault, with offers comparable performance whilst delivering up to 23% improved emissions and 31% better economy.

We tested the two-wheel drive, seven-seat Nissan Qashqai+2, which benefits from headline figures of 133g/km and 55.4mpg combined. Our test car came with stop-start, which will be standard on all cars delivered from early next year. Until then, buyers will have to do without as a result of delays caused by the earthquake in Japan.

On a combination of motorways and twisting mountain roads the new engine coped well despite the hefty 1626kg kerbweight of our test car. With 236lb ft at 1750rpm it’s no surprise that the mid-range pull is very decent and brings with it adequate overtaking potential, but more importantly it provides accessible performance and relaxed delivery.

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The six-speed manual ‘box gets well-chosen ratios, and the engine quiets to an impressively subdued background noise in normal conditions, though tyre and wind noise intrudes noticeably. There’s also very little vibration and rattle on re-start when you’ve got the stop-start system in action.

No changes have been made to the chassis, so you still get ample grip, good steering response and a well-settled ride.

Overall, the new 1.6 dCi is an excellent motor. Think carefully about a more powerful car if you regularly carry a full complement of people, but even so this will easily be the pick of the Qashqai range given its pleasant real-world responses and very impressive figures.

It’s not cheap by any standard but the Qashqai+2 is competitively priced next to the few relevant seven-seat rivals it has. This top-spec 2WD 1.6 dCi 130 Tekna costs £24,345 (4WD will set you back a further £1550) but includes a panoramic glass roof, leather seats and 360-degree parking camera amongst other luxuries.

It’s a shame that there isn’t more variety in the range as a whole. If you want a diesel auto you must opt for the old 148bhp 2.0 dCi, and this same slightly gruff motor is also the most powerful engine in the range. Even so, in the world of family transport, this Qashqai+2 1.6 dCi is easily one of the best options.

Nissan Qashqai+2 2008-2013 First drives