The last few days of motorway running have allowed for a thorough test of some of the other gadgets of our well-equipped test car. The lane departure warning system was a bit irritating and was soon turned off (which you could argue is driver error…), but other than that this Sunderland-built car scores highly on the tech front.
The traffic sign recognition system is a godsend when flicking between so many countries with differing road rules and speeds. The sat-nav is also starring; it has covered everywhere we've wanted to go, including Bosnia-Herzegovina, in minute detail, and allows multiple waypoints to be easily tapped in.
Slovenia was the next destination in the sat-nav, and a deserted border post led the way to a subtly different landscape, with more sparsely populated villages and a more spacious feel. That's apparently down to having lots of land that’s not been flogged for all it’s worth.
The trip to Slovenia was short, though, as neighbouring Croatia was on our hit list. At the border, the guard attending to us shouted for his colleague Mario to come over to “[something in Croatian] Qashqai”. He was also enthralled with the fact I came from Norwich, which is a first.
Croatia is the home of the EU-funded (and usually empty) mega motorway, and we followed one into Rijeka before heading down the Adriatic coastline after a stop at the picturesque horseshoe bay at Bakar.
The drive down the east Adriatic coast (on a brand spanking new road, of course) could claim to be Europe’s own version of the Pacific Coast Highway, so sweeping were the bends and stunning was the scenery.
My sadness at leaving it as we headed inland towards Bosnia was tempered because a foggy mountain had to be climbed, and a tight and twisty road was the only way up. I wasn’t quite in tyre-squealing mode, but the Qashqai again revealed the safe and steady traits in its handling.
More EU roads followed, complete with lots of roundabouts, one of which a Mazda 323 estate driver took exception to and negotiated in the wrong direction, making it a 90deg turn for him instead of a 270deg one.
Our last port of call in Croatia was to be the Plitvice Lakes national park, but the fog scuppered our plans to snap the car in some stunning scenery, so the dash into Bosnia – and outside the EU – was made instead.
The border sits in the middle of nowhere in moorland, and we were the only car there so had no trouble getting in. Once the other side of the border, there was another big shift in the landscape. The first impression is of a naturally pretty country, albeit one that's grittier with its architecture, and less prosperous than the EU member nations we’d passed through.
There’s also evidence everywhere you look that less than 20 years ago the country witnessed Europe’s bloodiest conflict since WW2. The number of abandoned and partially destroyed buildings is staggering; they’re everywhere, from urban churches to houses in city suburbs and groups of dwellings in rural outposts. Many other buildings wear scars of a different kind.
The roads in Bosnia are nearly all single file and in a reasonable state, although the odd pothole can appear, as do patched-up repair jobs that are rutted with lorry marks. Nothing the Qashqai hasn’t been able to cope with, that’s for sure.