GLANCE out of your car window, or peek at the queue of vehicles waiting at traffic lights, and the chances are that there will be a Nissan Qashqai on view.
In a modern motoring scene increasingly inhabited by crossover models – no less than 20 have been launched since the first generation Nissan in 2007 – the Qash is king.
It’s the most successful vehicle in Nissan history in Europe with 2.3 million sales, 19 Car of the Year titles among a staggering 81 awards and the third best seller in the UK new car charts so far this year.
Just this week it was revealed that last March has been officially confirmed as the Qashqai’s most successful sales month ever across Europe, with more than 33,000 units sold.
You couldn’t really blame Nissan if the Japanese brand’s big guns took a step back to bask in the glory of its achievement.
But practical thinking and common-sense values apart, the principal reason why the Qashqai has stayed top of the pile is because Nissan hasn’t allowed time to stand still.
Regular lifetime refreshes and a responsive ear to customer feedback has led to the most comprehensive set of upgrades yet seen in the model’s 10-year journey.
When it hits the streets next month the new-look British-built and designed Qashqai will focus on the key areas of design, quality, technology and performance in its quest to keep the crossover crew trailing in its wake.
And as we discovered at an international press exercise that combined sweeping mountain roads with rush-hour congestion in Vienna, the engineering and style teams have completed an impressive job, both inside and out.
Featuring a style Nissan calls ‘premium dynamism’ the Qashqai clearly has a more contemporary appeal – cleaner, sharper, with tight bonnet creases, side vents, chrome surrounds and new boomerang daytime running lamps.
You can add to that a more premium ambience in the cabin that makes the passenger feel more welcome in slimmer tapered seats that improve visibility for those in the rear.
Then there’s a new trim level, Tekna +, which becomes the flagship grade above Visia, Acenta, N-Connecta and Tekna, and with the likes of soft leather, lumbar support and a new BOSE eight-speaker audio set-up, it’s aimed at buyers seeking the ultimate Qashqai.
The Qashqai’s engine range has been carried over from the current line-up, offering the choice of petrol or diesel, six-speed manual or CVT auto transmissions, and two or four-wheel drive.
It includes the 1.5-litre 110PS diesel unit which, with CO2 emissions of 99g/km and 74.3mpg potential fuel economy, is expected to account for the lion’s share of sales.
The difference is that the new Qashqai is a more polished, premium and quieter car to drive following a number of initiatives.
For instance Nissan engineers have re-tuned the dampers for a more settled ride quality, the steering wheel returns to the centre position more easily, there’s better door sealing plus thicker rear glass.
And as 45 per cent of wind noise comes from underneath the vehicle, this too has been addressed with an updated design.
Also new to Qashqai is Stand Still Assist which works on both slopes and the flat, and holds the car still for up to three minutes allowing the driver to take their foot off the brake.
But perhaps the most significant addition looking ahead is something called ProPILOT, due next spring and the first stage of Nissan’s journey towards autonomous driving.
It controls the steering, acceleration and braking in a single lane on major roads during heavy traffic congestion and high-speed cruising and is based on three technologies – Lane Keep Assist, Intelligent Cruise Control and Traffic Jam Pilot.
Not that the Qashqai isn’t already laden with forward-looking safety features, including emergency braking with pedestrian recognition, park assist, cruise and stability control, tyre pressure monitoring and six airbags as standard.
Prices start at £19,295 for the Qashqai 1.2 DIG-T 115PS Visia petrol model with 2WD and six-speed manual transmission rising to £32,530 for the 1.6 dCi 130PS Tekna+ diesel 4WD variant.