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Nissan Qashqai+2 Acenta 2.0

Click to view picture gallery“The Qashqai ‘crossover has been
  a success story for Nissan, com-
  bining a reputation for building
  very good 4x4s with the real-life
  practicalities of a hatchback family
  car — but with SUV looks...

THE MASTERSTROKE WAS LETTING CUSTOMERS CHOOSE either two-wheel drive only or full-time 4x4 models. Seventy-five per cent opt for the two-wheel drive versions showing where the real market is. Clearly customers like the Qashqai's SUV styling when allied to front-wheel drive performance and running costs.

By adding two extra seats to the Qashqai (badged honestly as the Qashqai '+2'), with more leg and headroom throughout courtesy of the extended body, the new Qashqai+2 will appeal to families for whom having seven seats is an important requirement. The extra space comes from the +2's longer wheelbase — extended over the standard version by 135mm. The overall length is up by 210mm to 4,525mm; the roof height at the rear is increased by 40mm to 1,645mm and this results in 16mm more front seat headroom, 10mm more for the middle row and 23mm more kneeroom for the middle row seats as well.

Even if you don't really need the additional pair of seats, then the added load area space is another legitimate reason to buy one. Be aware that the rearmost row of two seats offers only very limited legroom and is best treated as occasional seating. But fold them flat (thankfully without having to remove the headrests) and the load space swells to 550 litres. Fold both the rear and centre row seats flat and the maximum load space increases to 1,520 litres.

So, with two- and four-wheel drive models on offer, and with the option of 2.0-litre petrol and diesel engines as well as auto/CVT transmission options, the Qashqai range as a whole is a now a formidable contender for sales in a very competitive market.

Having driven at last week's press launch most combinations of the Qashqai+2 — and bearing in mind the 13p advantage petrol currently enjoys over diesel fuel, and the extra purchase cost of a diesel unit over a petrol-engined model — my view is that for the vast majority of families the 2.0-litre 138bhp petrol model with two-wheel drive is the best option. I would also go for the middle level of specification — Acenta — which is expected to take 50 per cent of sales. This model, fitted with a six-speed manual 'box, costs 18,749 — very well priced for the flexibility and running costs it offers.

Being high-geared with a six-speed manual transmission, the responsive and smooth petrol engine returned a real-life 38.1mpg — commendably better than the official 33.6mpg combined figure. CO2 emissions are 197g/km giving a VED road tax bill of 210 until next March and 260 from April 2009.

For comparative purposes you need to know that a 2.0-litre, two-wheel drive diesel version costing 20,149 in Acenta specification, will return 42.2mpg (actually 43.2mpg on test). VED is 170, rising to 205 next April.

Fitted as standard across the range are a panoramic sunroof, rear privacy glass, roof bars and electronic stability programme. The only real gripe is that very limited legroom for third-row passengers. Adding to the Qashqai+2's appeal is the SUV styling, family hatchback running costs, refinement, the comfortable ride, good grip, nicely weighted steering and, of course, the added two seat accommodation that can alternatively provide more load space. — David Miles

Nissan Qashqai+2 Acenta 2.0
| 18,749
Maximum speed: 118mph | 0-62mph: 10.5 seconds
Overall test MPG: 38.1mpg | Power: 138bhp | Torque: 144lb ft
CO2 197g/km | VED Band F 210 | Insurance group 8