By Declan Glynn

Stunning looks, sophisticated design and efficient aerodynamics combine gracefully in the shape of the Nissan Qashqai – consistently, one of Ireland’s top-selling cars.

The Nissan Qashqai is the family hatchback that thinks it’s an SUV.

Nissan’s engineers managed to blend the qualities of both vehicle types to produce a brilliantly well-rounded product, and created the ‘crossover’ segment in the process.

The original Nissan Qashqai was surprisingly fun to drive, and the latest model builds on that, but takes a more mature approach, ensuring a more ‘premium’ feel.

Levels of noise and vibration in the cabin have been vastly improved, with much less sound from the road and engine making its way inside, particularly on the motorway.

One thing is for certain: the second-generation Nissan Qashqai looks far more upmarket than the original model.

The overall shape is a typical crossover, with a raised ride height, roof-rails and black plastic trim giving a familiar rugged off-roader look.

Engine options in the new Nissan Qashqai include a 1.2-litre petrol unit with 115bhp (6-speed manual, or CVT transmission), a 1.3-litre petrol with 160bhp (6-speed manual, or DCT automatic transmission), and a 1.5-litre turbo-diesel (dCi) engine producing 110bhp, and mated to a 6-speed manual gearbox.

There are four specification levels in the new Nissan Qashqai – the XE, SV, SV Premium and, range-topping SVE.

Even entry-level models are well-equipped with high-tech features and creature comforts.

There is a five-inch infotainment system as standard, as well as Bluetooth that allows you to make hands-free calls and stream music through your Smart device.

You also get cruise control to lighten the load on longer journeys.

The interior is kitted out with sleek, black materials and polished chrome for a high-end finish.

An elevated driving position gives you an exceptional view ahead, while bump-absorbing Chassis Control ensures the comfort of everyone on board. You can also add a stylish panoramic roof to make the spacious cabin feel even bigger.

My test car was a new Nissan Qashqai SVE model finished in stunning Pearl White metallic paintwork, with contrasting black premium Nappa leather interior.

This top-specification model comes lavishly equipped with standard features such as a panoramic glass roof, LED daytime running lights, satellite navigation, heated front seats, cruise control and dual zone automatic air conditioning.

It also features six airbags, privacy glass, Around View Monitor, a reverse camera and many other quality features which give the Qashqai a true ‘premium’ feel.

Nissan’s wonderful, and characterful, turbo-diesel engine produces 260Nm of torque for swift acceleration, and propels the car from 0-100km/h in just 11.9-seconds, on its way to a top speed of 182km/h.

This 4-cylinder, 1461cc engine is capable of fuel consumption as low as 4.0l/100km on a combined driving cycle, will tow a braked trailer of up to 1,350kg, and costs just €180 in annual road tax.

The 1.5dCi engine feels sprightly on the road, thanks to the combination of prompt throttle response and well-chosen ratios from the precise six-speed gearbox.

This results in enlightened city driving, and offers pleasurable and relaxing motorway cruising too.

The Nissan Qashqai range is priced from €26,370 (ex-works), while my lavishly equipped test car specification is priced at €36,620 (ex-works) and represents terrific value for money.

All new Nissan passenger cars come with a 3-year/100,000km warranty, and a 12-year anti-corrosion warranty too.

When you choose the new Nissan Qashqai, you get a good-looking SUV with the reduced running costs of a hatchback.

Nissan’s Qashqai is not just the world’s favourite crossover, it’s a new ‘Super-SUV’.