The greatest British car ever built? Well, without wishing to sound pedantic, it depends what you mean by ‘greatest’.
I suppose the obvious choice would be the Mini, an exemplar in space utilisation and, by happy coincidence, exceptionally agile. But the Mini was never developed and advanced, it was never refined, never became a hatchback and is rumoured to have hardly made any money.
The Austin/Morris 1100/1300 (or ADO16 to the cognoscenti) was closed related to the Mini but was a huge sales success – the UK’s best-seller for a decade. Elegant and class-competitive, it might be argued that this was the greatest British car because it sold in volume. Outright sales successes are rare in the history of the British car industry.
Range Rover? Genre-defining (if not completely original) and a beautiful piece of industrial design, but it was another car criminally underdeveloped and poorly built. The Jaguar E-type? Can I be honest and say I’ve long been in two minds about the styling? I just can’t forgive the ludicrously narrow tracks.
No, if you want a car that defined a new market segment was carefully developed over its life, was solidly engineered, reliable and sold consistently well over many years, you’ll have to look at the Nissan Qashqai. It was designed at Nissan’s studio in Paddington, London. It was engineered by the technical centre in Bedfordshire and it is made – in large numbers – by Nissan’s flagship Sunderland plant.