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Nissan qashqai 2 testy

What Car? Group test - Hyundai Tucson vs Nissan Qashqai vs Renault Kadjar

The new Hyundai Tucson takes on our favourite small SUV, the Nissan Qashqai and the Renault Kadjar.

Ford Fiesta, Vauxhall Corsa, Ford Focus, VW Golf – all household names and all, perhaps unsurprisingly, Britain’s best-selling cars. The fifth car on the list isn’t the Vauxhall Astra, VW Polo or even Ford Mondeo, it’s the Nissan Qashqai. Back in 2008 when the SUV-inspired hatch was launched, even Nissan had no idea how successful it would be.

That winning formula has inspired many imitators, the latest of which is the Hyundai Tucson. Its fuel economy and CO2 emissions are unremarkable, but it’s keenly priced and well equipped.

Our third contender is even closer in concept to the Qashqai. In fact, under their skin, the Renault Kadjar and the Nissan are pretty much the same car, courtesy of a long-standing alliance between the two brands. The Kadjar is more than £2000 cheaper to buy, but is there a reason for that?

  • Replacement for the ix35 is keenly priced. Fuel efficiency isn't its strong suit though.
  • The current benchmark and a former What Car? Car of the Year. It will prove tough to beat.
  • Shares many of its nuts and bolts with the Qashqai, yet undercuts it on price by more than £2000.

Let’s cut straight to the chase: the Nissan Qashqai hasn’t lost its crown. Its blend of top-notch refinement, fine driving dynamics and upmarket interior are still unmatched in this class, and although N-tec trim is fairly pricey it comes with lots of luxuries and a host of safety aids, including automatic emergency braking.

Mind you, the new Kadjar runs the Qashqai pretty close – perhaps unsurprising given how closely related the two cars are. The Renault is a fair bit cheaper – no matter whether you’re buying privately or running one as a company car – and is almost as good to drive, so we can certainly understand why you’d be swayed by the savings on offer.

However, for us those savings aren’t quite enough to make up for the Kadjar’s cheaper-feeling interior and its shorter list of equipment (you have to pay extra for parking sensors and a height-adjustable boot floor, while automatic emergency braking isn’t even an option on Dynamique Nav). What’s more, the Renault isn’t quite as refined as its Japanese rival – and its infotainment system, while decent, isn’t as intuitive.

That leaves the Tucson. It’s certainly a step forward compared with the old ix35 it replaces, being both better to drive and that bit more practical inside. However, it fails to shine brightly enough in any area to trouble its two rivals and isn’t cheap enough to make up for its shortfalls. In fact, if you’re a company car driver the Hyundai will actually work out the most expensive option.

  • For Great to drive; upmarket interior; very practical; lots of luxuries and safety kit
  • Against Most expensive on PCP finance; so-so performance
  • Verdict Still the best small SUV this side of £25,000

2nd - Renault Kadjar 1.5 dCI 110 Dynamique Nav - 4 Stars

  • For Cheapest to own; biggest boot; good to drive
  • Against Average interior quality; standard kit
  • Verdict Loses out to the Qashqai - but only just

3rd - Hyundai Tucson 1.7 CRDi 116 Blue Drive SE Nav - 3 Stars

  • For Flexible engine; reclining rear seats; body control
  • Against Fuel efficiency; noisy engine; vague steering
  • Verdict Decent enough, but no class leader