There is something seriously unusual about the Nissan Qashqai – and it is not just the name.

Since it was launched a decade ago, the car-that-no one-could-pronounce has seen sales increase year-on-year, bucking the traditional downward trend that most car models see over their lifetime.

When it first appeared, the motoring press was mildly sceptical about an oddly-named vehicle that did not sit neatly into any existing car category. But what do journalists know? The car buying public loved it, helping the Sunderland-built Qashqai to become the most successful model in Europe in Nissan’s 83-year history, with about 2.3 million sold.

And despite it now facing more than 20 crossover rivals, car buyers are still queueing up to buy one, making it Europe’s best-selling crossover.

Nissan says feedback from existing customers drove the changes for 2017 that focus on developing an increasingly upmarket feel.

Buyers said they wanted a more quality atmosphere, more technology, edgier styling and improved drive, and judging by my time at the wheel on a route from Oxford and out around the Cotswolds this week, those folk will not be disappointed.

Open the door and the first thing you notice is a new, flat-bottomed, three-spoke steering wheel. Inside, other areas of the cabin have been upgraded with soft-touch materials and smart stitching.

But it is the quiet ride that makes the biggest impression. The Qashqai was never a noisy car but now, even with a less-powerful diesel unit under the bonnet, it whisks you along in whisper-like comfort. On long journeys this will be a much more relaxed, less tiring place to be.

Nissan says part of the drive to reduce cabin noise is down to aerospace-inspired ‘vortex generator’ technology – small raised sections on the underside of the car’s front bumper – that breaks up airflow under the car, helping to reduce drag and cut wind noise.

More visible improvements include one-touch power window switches fitted on all four doors as standard across the range.

The company says customer feedback also led to improvement of the Qashqai’s two infotainment systems. DAB digital radio is now standard for the first time, while the touch-screen satellite navigation unit, that is standard on the upmarket N-Connecta grade and above, has a more app-like appearance.

The boot is not only sizeable but flexible, with a carrying capacity of 430 litres increasing to 1,598 litres when the 60:40 split rear seats are folded flat. The boot also shelves and dividers that can be adjusted in any one of 18 configurations.

Prices start from £19,295 for the turbocharged, two-wheel-drive, 1.2-litre petrol-powered Visia, up to £32,530 for the impressively equipped, top-of-the-range model in the new Tekna+ grade.

In that top specification, redesigned seats are trimmed in soft nappa leather, with 3D quilting on the centre panels. Black leather is standard, with the choice of a rich plum colour as a £495 option.

The driver’s seat is electrically-controlled with four-way pneumatic lumbar support, allowing you to fine-tune the seating position, enhancing comfort and reducing fatigue. A seat memory function with two stored positions has been added, linked to the door mirrors.

Also fitted to the Tekna+ is a new Bose eight-speaker audio system. Externally, Tekna+ models come with gloss silver door mirror caps and roof rails.

Other changes across the range include revised exterior styling, a couple of new colours and a choice of large, stylish alloy wheels.

And there is more to come. Later this year, the emergency braking technology that has been available on the Qashqai from 2014 is being upgraded with a system, using radar and a camera, to help avoid collisions with pedestrians.

And next spring, Nissan will introduce its next step towards the driverless car with the ProPILOT system that will automatically control the car’s steering, acceleration and braking in everything from high-speed cruising to heavy traffic congestion.


Auto facts

Model: Nissan Qashqai N-Connecta 1.5 dCi 110

Price: £25,555

Insurance group: 13E (1-50)

Fuel consumption (combined): 74.3mpg

Top speed: 113mph

Length: 439.4cm/173in

Width: 180.6cm/71.1in

Luggage capacity: 15.2 cu ft

Fuel tank capacity: 12.1 gallons/55 litres

CO2 emissions: 99 g/km

Warranty: Three years/ 60,000 miles