The Qashqai and I have made it to the three-month stage but it seemed for a time that the honeymoon was over after a funky little car with Oxford breeding stole my affection.
First impressions of the Qashqai were good – I liked its distinctive looks and the feeling that the car wasn’t going to get pushed around on the motorway.
With its five-star Euro NCAP rating, it had optimum safety credentials, too.
But six weeks into our relationship, the Qashqai left me for two days (a colleague took it for a spin) and I discovered that big isn’t necessarily best.
My replacement couldn’t have been more different – royal blue paint, go-faster stripes and – wow, a sport button.
While the Qashqai can be sluggish at times and has a flat spot at higher speeds, this model was quick off the mark.
Arguably, the view is better from the Qashqai (given its higher driving position), but one thing I didn’t miss was having to peer round the chunky A-pillar at roundabouts and tight corners.
I also didn’t miss the nightmare of parking the Qashqai. Rear visibility is poor and even the reversing camera isn’t foolproof – on a sunny day there’s too much glare and it’s not much good with raindrops on it either.
And don’t get me started on the difficulty of judging the length of the Qashqai’s front end. If science is to be believed, though, it’s not the Qashqai’s fault – women’s spatial awareness just isn’t as good as men’s.
While the MINI might be easier to manoeuvre, there are still plenty of things that make the Qashqai a good car.
As low CO2 emissions become more important and gas guzzlers lose favour, drivers who love SUVs might find the Qashqai solves a dilemma.
It’s crossed between an SUV and a regular hatchback, and has low CO2 emissions. My test car emits just 145g/km.
Lots of other manufacturers seem to have cottoned on to the crossover idea, the Ford Kuga being particularly acclaimed.
Even Land Rover is looking at downsizing with the concept
LRX it displayed at the British Motor Show.
Out and about, lots of people have commented on the Qashqai and said they’re considering buying one so the interest is there. In fact, demand has exceeded Nissan’s expectations.
And if it’s space you’re after, the Qashqai must score more points than the MINI. A colleague used it to help someone move house and the boot space stood up to the test.
The truth is: the MINI and Qashqai are great cars – they’ve both got the Fleet News Awards to prove it.