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Champions League 2017: when cars play football

This weekend, all footballing roads – or more specifically the M4 and A48 – lead to Cardiff as the Uefa Champions League bandwagon rolls into town. At the end of the day – read: 19:45 – Juventus and Real Madrid will kick-off with high hopes of scooping Europe’s biggest prize since Amar Pelos Dois won the hearts of Kiev.

These days, football and cars are as intertwined as Cristiano Ronaldo’s Ferrari 599 GTB and the tunnel beneath Manchester Airport. In Cheshire, (dis)tastefully modified cars are as common as fake tan, must-have handbags and sunnies the size of dinner plates.

But while it’s easy to poke fun at footballing car culture – hat tip to Stephen Ireland for services to the industry – the fact remains that football is big business for the car industry. And that’s not a throwaway cliché, Clive.

The Champions League gives 110%

Nissan certainly thinks so, which is why you’re forced to endure endless ads when Gary, Jake and co. have finished over-analysing misplaced passes with old pros. The Japanese firm signed a four-year Uefa Champions League sponsorship deal in 2014, reported to be worth €54.5 (£45m), replacing Ford, which had sponsored the tournament for 22 years.

Whichever way you look at it, that’s an awful lot of Nissan Micras. Or 3,750 base-spec models, to be precise.Champions League 2017: when cars play football

For Nissan, the benefits are obvious. Around 200 million fans are expected to watch the final on June 3, not to mention the countless others who have tuned in since the tournament kicked off back in June 2016. Although quite how many cars Nissan sold off the back of The New Saints vs. Tre Penne is anybody’s guess.

“The Champions League has massive power in terms of views that it can give us,” Jean-Pierre Diernaz, vice president for marketing, Nissan Europe, told the BBC in 2016.

“We are a growing brand around the world, but with the exception of Japan, and possibly the US, we are a challenger brand. To go a step further we need to grow awareness. The Champions League has massive power in terms of views that it can give us.

“It is working in terms of making sure our brand is growing,” the Frenchman said.

Interbrand’s Top 100 Best Global Brands ranks Nissan as number 43, with the brand valued at $11.066m in 2016, an increase of 22%. Messrs Iniesta, Thiago Silva and Aguero kicking a ball about in a studio are doing more than just bookending the commercial break.

A game of two halves

But the car industry’s involvement with the Champions League final goes far deeper than Yaya Touré kicking a football through the roof of a Nissan X-Trail. Real Madrid vs. Juventus presents a compelling automotive sideshow in Ingolstadt vs. Michigan. Or Audi vs. Jeep.

Audi calls itself a “partner of premier international clubs” and has been the vehicle partner of Real Madrid since 2003. The internet is awash with photos of players smiling gleefully at the Estadio Santiago Bernabéu as they’re presented with the keys to their new highly-specced Audi.

Hats off to the Audi PR team for convincing Ronaldo to risk a moment of ‘helmet hair’ in the name of corporate sponsorship. He’s probably just thankful that he escaped the possibility of being given a club Chevrolet when he left Manchester United. Hard luck, Rooney, De Gea, et al.Champions League 2017: when cars play football

Not that Audi is a one-club company. Its sponsorship of FC Ingolstadt 04 is understandable, as are its links with Bayern Munich – that must sting, BMW – but a partnership with FC Barcelona? Proof that business is more important than fierce rivalries. When sponsorship deals get Messi…

Jeep: a no-nonsense player

Jeep’s sponsorship of the ‘Old Lady’ dates back to the 2012-2013 season when it signed an initial three-year deal worth €35m, or €11.7m per season. To outsiders, seeing the famous Jeep logo adorning the equally famous black and white stripes of Juve might seem like just another sponsorship deal, but to car enthusiasts and those with a thing for economics, the link is more obvious.

Juventus is controlled by the billionaire Agnelli family, the investment company with a 29.41% share in Fiat and a 22.91% share in Ferrari. In 2015, the Fiat-founding family signed a merger agreement with Chrysler, which created Fiat Chrysler Automobiles and created an indirect link between the American SUV brand and the city of Turin.

Not that Juventus has encountered anything other than smooth roads this season. Having secured the Serie A title, Juve made light work of Barcelona at the quarter final stage and saw off the attacking threat of Monaco in the semis as the Italians marched to the final in Cardiff.Champions League 2017: when cars play football

Top, top cars

Victory at the National Stadium of Wales – Uefa regulations prevent it being called the Principality Stadium – would net the winning team €15.5m, while the other finalist will receive €11m. Enough for the clubs to pick and choose from their corporate sponsor’s range of vehicles.

Leaving aside the fact that the players are given the keys to the cars of their respective club sponsors, you’re unlikely to see Ronaldo splashing out on a new Q2 or Buffon spending any time using the Renegade online configurator. The players can pick and choose from the world’s elite range of supercars.

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The animal arrive👍🔝

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Cristiano Ronaldo’s car collection has been well documented and includes a Bugatti Veyron 16.4 Grand Sport Vitesse he bought to celebrate winning Euro 2016 with Portugal. He announced the purchase on Instagram with the simple caption: “The animal arrive.”

Not to be outdone by his Real Madrid teammate, Karim Benzema often arrives at training in a black and chrome Bugatti Veyron. Meanwhile, Toni Kroos drives a Ferrari 488 GTB.

Welshman Gareth Bale, who is hoping to recover from an injury to play in the Cardiff final, reportedly gave up driving supercars because he believed it was the root cause of a succession of hamstring injuries. Bale was a member of a £30,000-a-year supercar club.Champions League 2017: when cars play football

Legendary Italian ’keeper, Gianluigi Buffon is unlikely to suffer any supercar-related injuries ahead of the Champions League final. The 39-year-old Italian is more interested in clean sheets than expensive motors, choosing to squeeze his 6ft 3in frame into a Fiat 500. In his first year as a pro he’d turn up at training riding a Vespa. Once a legend, always a legend.

Predictability, many of Buffon’s teammates at Juve don’t share his love of mundane motors, with some opting to keep it in the family by driving a Ferrari. For Dani Alves it’s an FF, Leonardo Bonucci drives an F12berlinetta, while Claudio Marchisio has chosen a 599 GTO.

At the end of the day…

Not that this precludes the Juve players from partaking in the odd promotional job for Jeep. “Smile and think of the paycheque,” mutters Giorgio Chiellini as he manages something that might pass as a grin. Almost.Champions League 2017: when cars play football

Come Saturday evening, Juventus will be all smiles if they overturn the odds by beating the favourites Real Madrid. Will Italian-American grit triumph over German precision engineering in the battle of the sponsors, or will the Japanese score on the break?

It’s back to you in the studio, Gary.

Hit or miss? Our verdict on the UK’s best-selling cars

Hit or miss? Our verdict on the UK’s best-selling cars

Hit or miss? Our verdict on the UK’s best-selling carsFigures released today reveal that 2016 was yet another record year for the new car market, with registrations up 2.3% compared to 2015. Over the year, some 2,692,786 cars were registered in the UK. But it’s not all good news as the organisation behind the stats, the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT), says we could be in for a rocky ride in 2017.

Still, if you are thinking about buying a new car this year, it might be wise to read one of our reviews before parting with our cash. These are our verdicts on Britain’s top 10 best-selling cars.

Initials: AB (Andrew Brady), SC (Sean Carson), PB (Peter Burgess), JR (John Redfern), RA (Richard Aucock), TP (Tim Pitt).

10. Audi A3: 43,808 registrationsHit or miss? Our verdict on the UK’s best-selling cars

The AudI A3 remains the premium hatchback of choice, with more than 40,000 registrations in 2016. It helps, of course, that there’s no fewer than nine A3s to choose from, plus the introduction of a fire-cracking RS3 saloon in 2017.

Audi revamped its most popular model in 2016, giving it a new face and a pair of new TFSI petrol engines. Prices start from £19,365, but you’ll pay at least £40,670 for the S3 Cabriolet.

Audi A3: what we said

“It’s not the sort of car that necessarily appeals to the heart, but the A3 is a really well-polished contender in the popular premium C-segment. There are body styles to cater for everyone: three- and five-door hatches (the latter a ‘Sportback’ in Audi lingo), a cabriolet and even a saloon.

“Buy one (or, perhaps more likely, consider one as a company car), and you’ll be treated to the best interior in its class, a plethora of new tech to keep the iPhone generation happy, and sensible running costs. If you’re a keen driver, though, you might want to check out the BMW 1 Series.” AB

Read our Audi A3 review

9. Mercedes-Benz C-Class: 44,181 registrationsHit or miss? Our verdict on the UK’s best-selling cars

It’s not hard to find evidence of the popularity of the Mercedes-Benz C-Class. Simply head along the M4 corridor during rush hour and every other car appears to be a C-Class. It’s the only compact executive car to appear in the top ten.

Prices start from £28,545 for the saloon, but you can also opt for an estate, cabriolet and coupe. Oh, and let’s not forget the bonkers AMG versions.

Mercedes-Benz C-Class: what we said

“The 2014 Mercedes-Benz C-Class firmly bats the ball back into BMW’s court. Appealing styling, a high quality interior, myriad clever systems and a much improved driving experience means the Merc gets closer to the 3 Series than ever.

“As we said, it can’t ultimately match it dynamically, but in most other areas the C-Class bests the BMW. With prices starting at £26,855, it’s around £300 more expensive than the equivalent 320i SE, but that’s really not that big a difference. Honours even on price, then.” SC

Read our Mercedes-Benz C-Class review

8. MINI: 48,328 registrationsHit or miss? Our verdict on the UK’s best-selling cars

Sixteen years since the launch of the first BMW MINI rolled off the production line at Plant Oxford, it remains as popular as ever. More than 48,000 registrations in 2016 represented a commendable rise from the 47,076 registrations in 2015.

Adding a five-door version to the range was a stroke of genius, while sun-seekers can order a new MINI Convertible. Back in February, we flew to Los Angeles to try it out. Life can be tough…

MINI Convertible: what we said

“Logic tends to pay only a minor part in buying a car like this. No one needs a convertible, but if they want one, it had better look good. The new MINI Convertible certainly hits that target. It may be indistinguishable to some from the earlier versions, but that’s no bad thing. The design is timeless.

“And there is lots more to entice buyers who want just a bit of logic in their decision. The additional space for passengers and luggage is very welcome, there’s plenty of pleasing touchy-feeliness about the MINI, and as always, it’s great fun to drive.” PB

Read our MINI Convertible review

7. Volkswagen Polo: 54,448 registrationsHit or miss? Our verdict on the UK’s best-selling cars

Objectively, the Volkswagen Polo is one of the best superminis you can buy. It might not be the most exciting car on the planet, but it’s favoured by those who put safety, practicality and dependability at the top of their list of priorities.

Surprisingly, it’s also cheaper than the ever-popular Ford Fiesta, with prices starting from just £11,635. Even the desirable Polo Match comes in at £13,070, while the Beats special edition could be yours for £14,020.

Volkswagen Polo GTI: what we said

Our very own John Redfern is a fan of the Volkswagen Polo, and he added a Flash Red GTI to his fleet in 2015. He said: “The Polo GTI has often (unfairly) had to live in the shadow of its bigger Golf brother, but I’ve always been a fan of the underdog.

“Plus, with the ever-increasing size of cars on our roads, the latest Polo GTI is virtually identical in dimensions to the hallowed Mk2 Golf GTI. Could that make for an interesting matchup?!” JR

Read about the Volkswagen Polo GTI

6. Vauxhall Astra: 60,719 registrationsHit or miss? Our verdict on the UK’s best-selling cars

Once upon a time, the loudest noise you’d hear at a car rental check-in desk was the collective sigh of disappointment as the keys to a Vauxhall Astra were handed to the unlucky tourist. Today, all that has changed, as new Astra is properly good.

No surprise, then, that Vauxhall registered more Astras in 2016 than it did in 2015. LED Matrix headlights, a so-called ‘wellness’ seat and in-car wifi are just some of the features that would have been alien to Astra drivers of old.

Vauxhall Astra: what we said

“If you’re familiar with, and unimpressed by, today’s disappointingly old-Vauxhall Astra, prepare to be surprised: the new one is a huge improvement. It’s nicer to look at, nicer to drive and much nicer to sit in. With the extra infotainment tech Vauxhall’s launched on it, the new Astra can even claim sector-unique appeal.

“There’s still a bit of an image problem to overcome, but the new car’s considerable additional appeal should help enormously here. From being a meek also-ran, it’s now a much more competitive alternative to the Volkswagen Golf and Ford Focus – with the ability to edge them in some key areas that could sway buying decisions.” RA

Read our Vauxhall Astra review

5. Nissan Qashqai: 62,682 registrationsHit or miss? Our verdict on the UK’s best-selling cars

Britain’s most popular crossover is – thanks to the absence of the Vauxhall Mokka from this year’s top ten – the only one of its kind to appear on the list. It might not be the first crossover (sorry, Nissan), but in the space of a decade, the Qashqai has become the brand generic.

Subjectively, it’s no longer the best in class. We’d consider the likes of the SEAT Ateca, Hyundai Tucson and Kia Sportage before the Qashqai. Come next year, it’ll also have the new Mazda CX-5 to contend with.

Nissan Qashqai: what we said

“A Qashqai doesn’t make for an exciting purchase, but it is a really easy-to-live-with crossover that will tick all the boxes for many families. There are more interesting rivals out there, but the Qashqai is a quality all-round package.” AB

Read our Nissan Qashqai review

4. Volkswagen Golf: 69,492 registrationsHit or miss? Our verdict on the UK’s best-selling cars

A top four finish puts the Golf in the same position it achieved in 2015. But read behind the lines and you’ll discover that the 69,492 registrations recorded in 2016 is around 4,000 short of 2015’s total.

The Mk8 Volkswagen Golf can’t come soon enough. Meanwhile, we drove a rather tasty Golf GTI Clubsport S…

Volkswagen Golf GTI Clubsport S: what we said

“Realistically, we’d probably be swayed at the last minute by the Golf R and its passenger-carrying and greasy-road tackling abilities over a Clubsport S. Alternatively, if it’s a track car you’re after, £33,995 (before options) buys you a myriad of more focussed possibilities.

“But if you’re a hardcore Golf GTI fan – and can somehow get on the waiting list (good luck with that) – the Golf Clubsport S is arguably the ultimate fast Vee-dub. We’d be mighty jealous of your purchase.” AB

Read our Volkswagen Golf GTI Clubsport S review

3. Ford Focus: 70,545 registrationsHit or miss? Our verdict on the UK’s best-selling cars

Wow. If you thought the Golf had a bad year, the Ford Focus has fallen well short of its 2015 total of 83,816 registrations.

On the plus side, we started the year by driving the new Focus RS, which set the tone for a vintage year of performance cars. Meanwhile, in the autumn, we drove the new Focus ST-Line…

Ford Focus ST-Line: what we said

“Everybody loves a fast Ford. And while the Focus ST-Line isn’t technically, um, fast, it looks the part. For many, that will be reason enough to buy one.

“Importantly, ST-Line trim doesn’t detract from the Focus’s traditional strengths: agile handling, decent comfort and practicality, and an attractive price-tag (especially after discount). If you’re in the market for a C-segment car, it should definitely be on your shortlist.” TP

Read our Ford Focus ST-Line review

2. Vauxhall Corsa: 77,110 registrationsHit or miss? Our verdict on the UK’s best-selling cars

In 2015, some 92,077 Corsas were registered in the UK, so Vauxhall’s most popular model fell well short in 2016. Frankly, it’s been a miserable year for the cars in the top four.

Which is a tad unfair on the Vauxhall Corsa, as the current version is streets ahead of its predecessors. The 1.0-litre turbocharged engine is a peach, while the interior is a league above the cabin you’ll find in the Fiesta. You’ll also discover that the supermini has some rather grown-up features.

Vauxhall Corsa: what we said

“The new Vauxhall Corsa is a very likeable car. We were worried at first that it’d be too similar to its predecessor, and certainly a bit more on the design front would have been welcome, but to drive it feels all-new.

“As such, we’d have no hesitation recommending a Corsa to anyone looking for a supermini – something we’d have struggled to say in the past. While it may still not quite have the edge over rivals like the Ford Fiesta and Volkswagen Polo, it’s closer than ever before.” AB

Read our Vauxhall Corsa review

1. Ford Fiesta: 120,525 registrationsHit or miss? Our verdict on the UK’s best-selling cars

No prizes for guessing the best-selling car of 2016. It is, of course, the Infiniti QX30. No wait, not that, it’s the Ford Fiesta.

Numbers might be down compared to 2015, but with a new model waiting in the wings, Ford won’t be feeling too glum this January. The new Fiesta range will feature an upmarket Vignale trim level and a new Active crossover. In 2016, we drove the Fiesta ST200…

Ford Fiesta ST200: what we said

“We’ll make no bones about it – we’re huge fans of the Fiesta ST200. We nearly stopped off at a Ford dealer on the way home, that’s how much we enjoyed driving it.

“It’s the ultimate Fiesta ST, which itself is the ultimate affordable hot hatch (and arguably more fun than bigger hot hatches such as the Volkswagen Golf GTI). It looks great in Storm Grey, and you’ll be given a great deal of kudos turning up at fast Ford meets in one. You could almost look at it as an investment.” AB

Read our Ford Fiesta ST200 review

Electric van range HALVES when fully-loaded

Electric van range HALVES when fully-loaded

Electric van range HALVES when fully-loaded

Research by a fleet management company has discovered that the electric range of a plug-in van could HALVE when it’s actually used to carry loads.

The study, carried out by Arval, found that a fully-loaded electric van lost more than 85% of its range over a 33.58 mile course. The same van, carrying nothing, lost just 45%.

“This is a great example of the operational factors that fleets looking at operating electric vans may have to consider,” said Arval UK’s commercial vehicle consultant, Eddie Parker.

“The loss of range is significant at almost 50% and shows that, if you were expecting a fully laden EV commercial vehicle to reach anywhere near the stated range, then you would be disappointed.”

The 35.58-mile test route was designed to represent typical van use, says the company, consisting of 16.8% urban road, 32.5% rural, 21.5% carriageway and 29.2% motorway.

The van travelled between 30 and 70mph, driven by the same driver, with the air-con and non-essential electrics turned off.

Despite the worrying research from Arval, Parker says it shouldn’t put people off electric vans entirely.

“We undertook this test in response to requests from customers who were looking to gain an operational understanding of this kind of vehicle.

“The fact is that, in general use, few vans of this type would ever be fully laden. A typical load for most uses would be much nearer the 50% mark, where the loss of range is much less pronounced. For this reason, we believe the study shows that there is a wider application for EVs than may at first have been thought.”

The popular Nissan E-NV200 electric van has an official NEDC range of 106 miles and features a number of features to extend the range – including regenerative braking and an advanced route planner to help pick the most efficient route.

Parker added: “Of course, all vehicles lose range when fully laden. A diesel van with a full payload would typically see its range reduced by around 35%.”

Nissan Micra

Nissan will help you find friends to buy a car with

Nissan MicraNissan has launched a new shared car ownership scheme that is 100% digital and uses social media channels to match up groups of compatible sharers.

The scheme, called Nissan Intelligent Get & Go Micra, will launch in Paris in April 2017. Other cities, such as London, are expected to follow.

The firm argues it has the potential to “transform the traditional car sharing industry”. This is through the use of social media profiling: Nissan will use social algorithms to pair up suitable groups of people to co-own a Micra.

Nissan Intelligent Get Go Micra

With an added layer of geo-location tech, Nissan believes the new scheme will create a car sharing scheme that works for everyone. Members will pay monthly based on how much they use the car, so they “can expect no nasty surprises”.

The advantage of using social media is that co-owners will be paired up with like-minded people. They’ll likely be a similar age, live in the same area, share similar music tastes and so on: all important considerations when cars are used by multiple people.

And because you’ll know the other people in your co-share group, there’s more incentive to keep the car clean and tidy for others.

Everyone also enjoys much lower cost of ownership – insurance, servicing, smartphone app and in-car tech functions are all included in the price. Bose Personal Audio is also included: this uses speakers in the car’s headrests to enhance sound quality.

Nissan chairman and CEO Carlos Ghosn launched the new Nissan Intelligent Get & Go Micra scheme at the Web Summit in Lisbon, Portugal this week. “We are moving toward a future where car usage may be more flexible, social and shared,” he said.

“At Nissan, we’re pioneering new ways to allow drivers to enjoy the freedom and financial benefits of shared car ownership.”

The Nissan initiative comes a week after UK car insurer Admiral announced it would use Facebook profiling to help younger drivers get discounts on car insurance – a scheme quickly BLOCKED by Facebook itself.

It is not yet clear if Nissan plans to use Facebook profiling in its Micra car-sharing scheme. 

Nissan Qashqai N-Connecta 1.6 DCi quick review: the ultimate crossover?

Nissan Qashqai N-Connecta 1.6 DCi quick review: the ultimate crossover?

Nissan Qashqai N-Connecta 1.6 DCi quick review: the ultimate crossover?

The Nissan Qashqai is often credited with being the car that started the crossover boom. It began in 2007, when the original Sunderland-built Qashqai replaced the more conventional Primera. It enjoyed huge success, hitting one million worldwide sales in 2011 – and smashing its target of 100,000 a year.

A replacement Qashqai was introduced in 2013 – and that’s the model we’re testing here. Does it deserve to be the huge success it’s proving to be, or is it living on a tidal wave of popularity triggered by its predecessor?

Prices and deals

The Nissan Qashqai starts at a very reasonable £18,545, but the high-spec turbodiesel N-Connecta will set you back a slightly more eye-watering £27,160. A search of online brokers suggests you can comfortably shave £4,000 off that price.

What are its rivals?

While Nissan can lay claim to having one of the first trendy new crossovers on the market, there’s no shortage of rivals available in 2016. There’s the affordable MG GS, good-value Hyundai Tucson and popular Kia Sportage – not to mention the Renault Kadjar, which shares a platform with the Qashqai. The SEAT Ateca is now on sale, and could also be a serious threat to the Qashqai.

What engine does it use?

What engine does it use?

There’s a range of petrol and diesel engines available in the Qashqai. The model we’re testing is the more powerful 130hp 1.6-litre dCi turbodiesel.

How fast?

Even with 20hp more than the lesser 1.5-litre diesel, the 1.6 isn’t a quick car – hitting 62mph in 9.9 seconds, and a top speed of 118mph. It’s plenty for a car such as this, though, and the manual gearbox is sharp enough that you don’t mind working through the gears to extract the best from the Qashqai.

Will I enjoy driving it?

The latest Qashqai isn’t as fun to drive as the original model, and those seeking thrills should look elsewhere. But it’s a refined and relaxing car to drive, with very few of the minor grievances that plague rival cars.

The electrically-assisted power steering provides confidence, while the Qashqai feels composed through corners. Road and wind noise are minimal, adding to the feeling that you could drive this all day without feeling stressed.

Fuel economy and running costs

Fuel economy and running costs

The 1.6-litre diesel returns 64.2mpg in the combined NEDC test. With a bit of effort, this is probably achievable, while mid-50s should be easily possible with sensible out-of-town driving.

What’s the interior like?

Bland, but robust, with everything where you’d expect it to be. The seating position is high up, giving you a good view of the road ahead – but equally, good visibility means it’s easy to drive around town. Despite a large infotainment screen in the middle of the dash (we’ll come to that shortly), there seem to be buttons everywhere in our high-spec model.

Is it comfortable?

It’s very easy to find a comfortable driving position in the Qashqai. The steering wheel adjusts back and forth – as well as up and down – while the seats offer plenty of adjustment. Legroom is also decent for front and rear passengers.

Is it practical?

Is it practical?

Unlike the previous model, the latest Qashqai is only available with five seats. It offers more space than a Golf, though – the attraction of a crossover for most – with 430 litres of boot space with the rear seats in place.

Tell me about the tech

The N-Connecta model tested here comes with Nissan’s seven-inch touchscreen infotainment system incorporating sat nav, DAB radio and smartphone integration. It’s a slick system to use, while Nissan’s fancy around-view monitor, standard on the N-Connecta, makes parking a breeze.

What about safety?

Nissan knows the Qashqai is popular with families, and it hasn’t scrimped on safety. On the N-Connecta you get lane departure and emergency braking systems as standard, not to mention driver, passenger, side and curtain airbags. It scored five stars for safety when NCAP tested it in 2014.

Which version should I go for?

Which version should I go for?

The high-spec N-Connecta on test here is a good choice if your budget stretches that far. However, the lower-spec Acenta offers good value for money, and the 1.5-litre diesel won’t leave most drivers feeling short-changed.

What’s the used alternative?

With a near-10-year production run so far, and the Qashqai’s popularity what it is, there’s no shortage of secondhand models on Auto Trader: more than 6,000, in fact. A £5,000 budget will get you a tidy early model from a dealer – we’d recommend a petrol engine at this age – while £14,000 buys a two-year-old second-generation model powered by the 1.5-litre diesel.

Should I buy one?

A Qashqai doesn’t make for an exciting purchase, but it is a really easy-to-live-with crossover that will tick all the boxes for many families. There are more interesting rivals out there, but the Qashqai is a quality all-round package.

Pub fact

Pub fact

The first Nissan to be built at the firm’s Sunderland plant was the 1986 Bluebird. In the plant’s first year, it produced just 5,139 cars. Last year, that number was 475,000, and it’s set to rise to more than 600,000 when the next-generation Qashqai and X-Trail enter production over the next few years.

Nissan Sunderland

Nissan decision ‘massive vote of confidence in Britain’ says Unite union

Nissan SunderlandNissan has secured 7,000 jobs at its Sunderland factory, and a further 28,000 in the supply chain, by confirming the next-generation Qashqai and X-Trail will be built there. The Unite union says this is thanks to the “world class” workforce employed there.

It is a “massive vote of confidence in Britain’s world-beating car industry”, claims Unite.

The surprise announcement, which came today ahead of a decision previously expected next month, confirmed the next-generation Qashqai for Sunderland. In an added surprise, Nissan announced the X-Trail seven-seat SUV will also now be built there.

Unite assistant general secretary Tony Burke said: “Nissan’s decision is a massive vote of confidence in the skills and expertise of a world-class workforce and testament to their hard work which has made the Sunderland plant one of the most productive in the Nissan family.

“The decision to build the new Qashqai and X-Trail in Sunderland is recognition of the UK car industry’s status as a world leader and secures tens of thousands of jobs at the Sunderland plant and throughout the supply chain.”

Burke also sounded a warning for the government, though, as discussions around Brexit continue. “It is vital that the government supports the car industry and secures tariff-free access to the single market to ensure other manufacturers follow Nissan’s lead and invest in the UK car industry.”

Although the future Qashqai has been secured, several other car manufacturers are due to make investment decisions for UK facilities, said Burke. Tariff-free access to the single market, stresses Unite, will play a key role in these decisions.

The next major UK car factory due to make an announcement regarding future product is Toyota. Its Burnaston facility makes the Auris hatchback and Avensis large family car. It’s unlikely the slow-selling Avensis will survive: all eyes are therefore on what Toyota decides to do with the Auris.

Nissan Sunderland

Sunderland safe: Nissan confirms car production will stay in UK

Nissan SunderlandNissan has confirmed that car production will continue in Sunderland following the Brexit vote.

The future of the factory appeared in doubt after Nissan CEO Carlos Ghosn met with prime minister Theresa May two weeks ago. However, Nissan has now committed to remain the UK, stating that both the next Qashqai and X-Trail will be built in Sunderland.

The decision will come as a relief to the 7,000 workers at the plant, which is one of the largest employers in the north of England.

Sunderland opened its doors in 1986, and one in three British cars is now built there. Around two million Qashqai crossovers have rolled off the line over the past decade, with 80% of production currently exported.

Carlos Ghosn said: “The support and assurances of the UK government enabled us to decide that the next-generation Qashqai and X-Trail will be produced at Sunderland. I welcome British Prime Minister Theresa May’s commitment to the automotive industry in Britain.”

Mrs May called the decision “excellent news”, while business secretary Greg Clark said it was “proof of the strength of the sector”.

Mike Hawes, SMMT Chief Executive, said, “Today’s announcement is good news for UK Automotive and jobs, confirming Britain as a leader in automotive production. To secure this position, however, we need government to provide public assurance to investors that our advantages will be maintained – namely, a competitive business environment, the ability to recruit talent from abroad and the continuation of all the benefits of the single market as we leave the EU.”

Nissan makes the Juke, Qashqai, Note, Leaf and Infiniti Q30 models in Sunderland at present, so the addition of the X-Trail SUV is an unexpected bonus.

Carlos Ghosn

Nissan has taken control of Mitsubishi

Carlos GhosnNissan taken control of Japanese rival Mitsubishi by completing a deal to take a 34% equity stake in the crisis-hit manufacturer.

Mitsubishi will become part of the Renault-Nissan Alliance – which is now one of the world’s top three car groups. Combined, they will this year sell more than 10 million cars.

It means the tireless Carlos Ghosn, already CEO of Renault and Nissan, now becomes chairman of Mitsubishi too. He has conducted a reshuffle of his management time so he can find the time to do it – and one of them is a Brit: Nissan chief performance officer Trevor Mann now becomes COO of Mitsubishi.

Mitsubishi was ripe for takeover after admitting it had been lying about the fuel consumption of dozens of models for the past 25 years. Ghosn, never one to mince his words, admitted Mitsubishi was on the ropes and the equity takeover was one charged with helping it recover.

“We are committed to assisting Mitsubishi Motors as it rebuilds customer trust,” said Ghosn. “This is a priority as we pursue the synergies and growth potential of our enlarged relationship.”

Economies of scale will give the giant new global group “breakthrough technologies and manufacturing capabilities to produce vehicles to serve customer demand in every market segment and in every geographic market around the world.” It possesses a formidable arsenal of size, reach and technology.

“At a time of unprecedented change in the global auto industry, this strategy will build on our existing strengths and management capabilities to ensure increased competitiveness, better products for our customers and attractive returns for shareholders.”

Buy a used Nissan Leaf for £175 a month - with a tiny deposit

Buy a used Nissan Leaf for £175 a month – with a tiny deposit

Buy a used Nissan Leaf for £175 a month - with a tiny deposit

More than 15,000 Nissan Leafs have been registered in the UK this year – meaning it holds onto its crown as the country’s most popular electric car.

But the firm says, after four years on sale, the number of used examples on the market are increasing – making it more accessible than previously.

As such, Nissan is launching a £1,000 dealer deposit contribution towards a PCP deal on used examples of the Leaf – meaning you could drive one for £175 a month, following a deposit of just £175.

Available on the 24kWh Acenta model, buyers get a 12 month warranty and free home charge unit, while interest works out at 3.9% APR.

You’ll own the battery outright – although new examples are available with the battery leased from £70 a month – and Nissan will replace any part of the battery causing capacity loss below nine bars (out of 12), within the three-year battery warranty period.

A search on Auto Trader, meanwhile, reveals you can buy a three-year-old Leaf with 61,000 miles on the clock for £5,599 – and the dealer selling it is offering 0% finance.

If you’d prefer a new one, you can buy a new Acenta 24kWh for £249 a month over three years. This follows a deposit of around £2,500, while interest works out at 5.99% APR.

Brexit: Nissan 'confident' car production will continue in UK

Brexit: Nissan bosses 'confident' after Theresa May meeting

Brexit: Nissan 'confident' car production will continue in UK

Nissan’s chief executive Carlos Ghosn has said he feels confident that the firm will continue to do business in the UK after meeting prime minister Theresa May to discuss post-Brexit Britain.

The firm’s Sunderland factory employs around 7,000 people and churns out 500,000 cars a year – with 80% being exported to more than 130 countries around the world. This means it could be a huge blow to the UK car industry if the Japanese carmaker moved production elsewhere.

“Since Mrs May’s appointment, we have maintained a clear dialogue with the UK Government during this challenging time,” Ghosn told reporters this afternoon. “It was my pleasure to be here today for a positive meeting with the Prime Minister and key members of her Government and I welcome their commitment to the development of an industrial strategy for Britain.”

At this month’s Paris Motor Show, the Nissan boss said he needed ‘a commitment’ from the Government if he was to continue investing in the UK. Along with the Sunderland plant, Nissan operates a design centre in London, a research and development centre in Cranfield, Bedfordshire, and a sales and marketing HQ in Rickmansworth, Hertfordshire.

“Following our productive meeting, I am confident the government will continue to ensure the UK remains a competitive place to do business,” added Ghosn, not hinting whether a firm tariffs had been made with the prime minister.

“I look forward to continued positive collaboration between Nissan and the UK Government.”

Following the discussions, May spoke out in praise of the UK’s automotive industry, describing it as a “great British success story [with] Nissan at the heart of it”.

“Over the past 30 years [Nissan has] had an excellent relationship with the UK Government,” she added, “a track record of investment and innovation, and their Sunderland plant is one of the most productive anywhere in the world – a testament both to their company and the skill of our workforce.

“We are now at the start of the complex negotiating process as Britain exits the EU and I have been clear that there will be challenges ahead. But I am confident we will achieve the best deal for Britain and the Government will engage closely with employers and investors as part of our work to create a global Britain.

“This government is committed to creating and supporting the right conditions for the automotive industry to go from strength to strength in the UK, now and into the future.”

May added that she was pleased to meet with Ghosn today and said she’d continue to work closely with Nissan.