So, after 5378 miles, thirteen days and 20 countries, our trip around Europe in the new Nissan Qashqai came to a quiet end at Autocar's headquarters in Teddington, Middlesex.

I'm not entirely sure what happened to the welcoming party we'd been promised, although we'd originally planned to get back on Friday, so perhaps they'd got bored and given up.

Since Monday 17 February, our Qashqai has visited (deep breath)  France, Belgium, Luxembourg, Germany, Switzerland, Liechtenstein, Austria, Italy, Slovenia, Croatia, Bosnia, Croatia (again), Hungary, Serbia, Bulgaria, Turkey, Bulgaria (again), Romania, Hungary (again), Slovakia, Poland, Germany, a corner of the Netherlands and back through Belgium and France before taking the Eurotunnel back to England.

We've driven our diesel-powered crossover through snow, fog, lashing rain, drizzle and late-evening sunshine. We've encountered fast motorways, catastrophically broken village roads, mountains, city centres and twisty coastal roads, and the Qashqai has taken them all in its stride.

We haven't experienced any issues with the car (although when I parked it at home last night the alarm starting going off without warning – apologies for disturbing half of Hampshire) and it has been a comfortable companion.

As well as accommodating our luggage and all of snapper Stan's camera gear, our Qashqai also lugged around two spare wheels and all the safety kit you need to travel on the continent.

Rarely has that blend of raised driving position, spacious interior and compact dimensions been so useful as around the cramped streets of major cities such as Istanbul, Sofia and Budapest. I'd like a little more visibility out of the rear screen (I'm a stickler for such things), although perhaps I just have to accept that's what parking sensors and cameras are for on modern cars.

The last few days of our trip brought more and more concentrated driving and less chances to stop to explore the variety that the continent had to offer.

The final leg involved streaking across Germany from our overnight halt in Nuremberg. Early on we made a quick halt near Würzburg, in the wine-growing region near the River Main, for some photos. Then it was back on the main roads all the way to Calais.

We were shocked by the huge number of Dutch cars heading back through Germany; they seemed to even outnumber German-registered cars at some points. Given that they were loaded down with children and luggage, Stan surmised it was probably the end of the half-term holidays in Holland.

For large sections of our trip, we'd barely seen another GB-plated vehicle, so when they became more frequent in Belgium we knew we were nearly home.

One of our aims on the trip was to drive all the way to Istanbul and back, but the other ambition was to surpass 5000 miles in the new Qashqai. That milestone came up as we passed the town of Epgert in Germany's Rhine region.

Regrets? Well, we didn't detour into Greece because we were worried about the time it might take to cross the borders into Turkey, and with some justification it turned out.

Also, our mileage targets were quite ambitious for some days and we kept seeing interesting sights that we wanted to explore but were fearful of running out of time to reach our accommodation.

However, our trip emphasised how much Europe has to offer. Now we feel we deserve nice continental holidays to recover from all that driving – the trouble is we just can't decide which destination to choose…

Nissan Qashqai from Sunderland to Istanbul, day one

Nissan Qashqai from Sunderland to Istanbul, day two

Nissan Qashqai from Sunderland to Istanbul, day three

Nissan Qashqai from Sunderland to Istanbul, day four

Nissan Qashqai from Sunderland to Istanbul, day five

Nissan Qashqai from Sunderland to Istanbul, day six

Nissan Qashqai from Sunderland to Istanbul, day seven

Nissan Qashqai from Sunderland to Istanbul, day eight

Nissan Qashqai from Sunderland to Istanbul, day nine

Nissan Qashqai from Sunderland to Istanbul, day ten

Nissan Qashqai from Sunderland to Istanbul, day eleven

Nissan Qashqai from Sunderland to Istanbul, day twelve