The Nissan Qashqai may lay claim to being one of the pioneers of the crossover genre, but it has had some adversaries in the past decade in the form of the Korean duo of the Hyundai Tucson (formerly IX35) and Kia Sportage.

Both are respectable advocates in their own right and their new swanky garb may have slightly overshadowed the Japanese offering.

However, the updated version of the Qashqai has, in my books, proven why it is revered as one of the forbears of this genre. I spent time at the wheel of the latest flagship 1.5 dCi Tekna variant and was impressed with the exemplary way it goes about things.

Cosmetically, the model has been given updates to keep it fresh. These include a new grille, LED daytime running lights, privacy rear windows and stylish 19-inch alloy wheels. Inside, an ergonomically designed steering wheel replaces the pre-facelift model’s cheaper-looking tiller.

The infotainment screen is perhaps a fly in the ointment as it lags behind modern units fitted to many of the Qashqai’s rivals. Its graphics and resolution are archaic and functionality is anything but intuitive.

The interior is comfortable with a good layout but that infotainment system is already a bit behind. Picture: MOTORPRESS
The interior is comfortable with a good layout but that infotainment system is already a bit behind. Picture: MOTORPRESS

That aside, we can heap many plaudits on the vehicle, with comfort and frugality being its main virtues.

The fantastic turbodiesel engine we’ve experienced in many Nissan and Renault products does a stellar job of motivating the Qashqai. Allied to a six-speed manual gearbox, it is a fairly smooth operator for the most part, but suffers slight turbo lag below 2,000r/min before it gets into its stride.

Then there is the economy, which gave us almost 500km on less than half the 65l tank of fuel for urban driving, while averaging around 5.7l/100km. With manufacturers having to cull diesel engines in the near future due to stringent emission policies, it is a travesty that this mill, too, will be relegated to the annals of diesel propulsion.

There is also the comfort aspect, which is superb for a vehicle with fairly low-profile tyres, while road noise is relatively subdued with little of it filtering into the cabin.

The suspension is geared more towards comfort than handling, as urban speed bumps were handled with aplomb. Handling is neutral for the most part and the vehicle tracks towards the chosen line without the body feeling wallowy or top heavy. It’s disposition is more akin to a hatchback than a high-riding SUV, such is its overall body control and feel.

In a segment awash with good representatives from various marques, the Qashqai certainly has its work cut out for it. Thankfully it has a great deal going for it and this updated version shows why the model has remained one of the most popular in the segment.

Yes, it may not be the most exciting vehicle, or the one at top of mind for everyone looking for a crossover, but following my stint behind the wheel, it should rank top of the list of best crossovers in the segment.

I would have preferred the model to come in on par with, if not slightly cheaper than its rivals. It is slightly more expensive than its competitors, which seem to have better street cred and more sophisticated infotainment systems to boot.

These items are key in buying vehicles in this segment, so the more sophisticated and modern the better.

If you are willing to look beyond that anomaly, you get a vehicle that delivers handsomely when it comes to frugality, comfortable driving manners and overall practicality and build quality.

While that may not be a universally welcomed approach to buying in this segment, it will no doubt benefit those willing to look beyond the superficial aspects of the vehicle.

The updated Nissan Qashqai is a superb, no frills package that manages to tick most boxes in this segment.

However, when all is said and done, the Kia Sportage 1.7 CRDI manual remains a more sophisticated and refined proposition and the one I would consider at this price level.