Go on then, I’ll tell you to save you having to google it. Liechtenstein is tucked between Switzerland and Austria. The local folk, all 35,000 of them, shop with Swiss francs, and speak German.

I had to look it up myself as well to be honest; yesterday morning, when I left Lille at 9am, I couldn’t even spell Liechtenstein without having a red squiggly line appear underneath it when I typed it into my computer, let alone claim to have ever been there or even accurately point to it on a map.

But last night we reached the tiny European principality, already deep into our 5000-mile, 20-country, 13-day road trip from England to Istanbul and back in a Nissan Qashqai. Isn’t it remarkable what you can achieve in a day?

What an interesting day it was. France, Belgium, Luxembourg, Germany, and Switzerland are all now behind me, with Austria, Italy, Slovenia and hopefully Croatia ahead today.

Yesterday's 500-mile route has taken in fast European motorways (France’s good, Belgium’s dank and potholed, Germany’s fast, and Switzerland’s modern and undulating) and the city centres of Lillle (an interesting blend of old and new) and Strasbourg (one of the most beautiful cities you’re ever likely to see that I knew little of until today) in France and Luxembourg City (like a best of album produced between France, Belgium and Germany) in, erm, Luxembourg.

The kinds of drives your average Qashqai buyer on the Continent would undertake, in other words. It’s excelled, but we wouldn’t have expected anything less from what our experiences of the Qashqai in the UK have told us.

This is a car engineered with comfort, refinement and a commanding driving position at its core, and in its natural habitat on the roads of western Europe it is a very fine car indeed.

The real challenges start today, first with the Alps and then the start of Eastern Europe when we head to Slovenia. There’s where all the gear we’ve brought in the back should come in handy – especially the snow chains.

Yesterday, those oddball spots that make up any road trip included a Porsche Panamera towing a trailer (welcome to Germany, folks), a town with a smutty name (yes, I should grow up), and the scariest set of postcards you’re ever likely to see in Luxembourg with what I think was their royal family on them. One was posted to the office, naturally.

You can follow our daily progress on Twitter at @mtisshaw and @autocar.

Nissan Qashqai from Sunderland to Istanbul, day one