Here’s a question for you to mull on: could the Nissan Qashqai be one of the greatest British cars ever? Now, before you hurl your cup of tea at the screen, let me explain.
Of course, it’s not as revolutionary and entertaining as, say, the original Mini or as glamorous and desirable as the Jaguar E-Type, but in terms of its impact on the automotive landscape, it arguably knocks these two icons into a cocked hat. I mean, just look at the evidence.
Since its launch in 2007, the Qashqai has been a perennial presence in the UK top 10 sellers list and globally has racked up well over 3.5 million sales and counting (the Mini managed 5.5m, but over a nearly 50-year production run). Out on British roads, the Nissan is as familiar a sight as traffic lights or double yellow lines.
And there’s more. Despite its Japanese badge, the Qashqai has as much British content as a Melton Mowbray pork pie. Not only is it built at Nissan’s plant in Sunderland, but the majority of the engineering for the original and its 2014 replacement was carried out at the firm’s technical facility at Cranfield as well, and the final design work was signed off at its styling studios in Paddington, London.
Then there’s its influence. Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery and all that, and in the past decade or so, the Nissan has spawned a multitude of compact crossover copycat rivals (more than 20 at the last count) all hoping to cash in on the Qashqai’s success. Yet despite the increased competition, it remains the sales charts’ top dog. In so many ways, the Nissan is a four-wheeled phenomenon.
No, it’s not as sharp to drive as a traditional family hatch, or as efficient because of its bluff aerodynamics and hefty kerb weight. You could also accuse it of being no more practical or versatile, despite the lifestyle message that loudly accompanies each example. Yet these accusations could be aimed at any of its rivals. Crucially, its loyal and plentiful buyers don’t seem to give a fig, and we all know that the customer is always right.
So like it or loathe it, there’s no doubting the Qashqai’s incredible success. Traditional enthusiasts may not fully understand the staggering popularity of crossovers, but as the wraps are pulled off the latest, third-generation machine, we should all doff our caps and acknowledge that perhaps the Nissan should be allowed to stake its claim to greatness.