It’s very easy to dismiss the changes to the latest Qashqai as merely a mid-life facelift, but delve deeper into the long list of enhancements and it’s obvious that Nissan wanted to take the latest car up a notch with a more distinctive design, extra technology and added refinement. As the Qashqai celebrates its tenth year on sale, having created the segment back in 2007, Nissan’s product planners have taken on board criticisms and made it even better than ever before.

More than 2.3 million examples of the Qashqai have been sold in Europe, a car that is designed, engineered and built here in the UK. Not only that, but it’s currently Britain’s best-selling diesel model, overtaking the VW Golf to grab the number one slot in 2017. So what changes have been made? Cosmetically, the new car adopts a version of Nissan’s latest V-motion grille, which is more pronounced and distinctive. We’re not sold on the 3D printed badge that hides the radar systems, as it looks cheap and tacky, but it’s a necessary evil in order to integrate all of the car’s safety systems. The headlights are new, along with a fresh LED daytime running light signature, and there’s a fresh set of bumpers both front and back, as well as altered tail light clusters. The eagle eyed will notice a shark fin antenna for cars with a navigation system, too. Finally, little vortex fins underneath the bumpers are designed to shape airflow beneath the car and help to deliver a quieter interior.

Step inside and there’s a new flatbottomed steering wheel with a thicker outer rim. It’s not there to be sporty, it is designed to make it easier to get in and out. The quality of the materials has been elevated, with softer plastics and a beautiful watchstrap-style leather seating pattern for the new Tekna+ versions. A Bose premium audio system is now available, too, on Tekna editions. Work has been carried out on noise reduction, the suspension has been tweaked for greater pliancy, while the front anti-roll bars have been stiffened for better handling. Changes to the steering is designed to enhance agility and deliver more feel. Autonomous emergency braking gains pedestrian detection from this autumn, and rear cross traffic alert and intelligent park assist are available for the first time. Nissan will take the first step towards semi-autonomous driving next spring when it launches its ProPilot 1.0 system on the Qashqai, incorporating traffic jam assistance, active cruise control and a lane keeping assistant.

The 1.5-litre dCi engine may only develop 109bhp, but it’s a gutsy unit and in many ways it’s not necessary to upgrade to the more expensive 1.6-litre unit. The smaller powerplant is flexible, has plenty of midrange pull and delivers responsive on-road performance that appears better than the on-paper figures suggest. Engine noise is subdued, and you’ll only really hear it when driving in a press-on manner. Despite claims of enhanced refinement, there’s still more road noise than we would like on some road surfaces, and fluffing from the wind around the door seals is noticeable. The tweaks to the steering are welcome, with greater agility and responsiveness making the Qashqai feel more entertaining to drive than before, while body lean is neatly contained and grip plentiful. The suspension soaks up imperfections extremely well, with excellent comfort at motorway speeds and only the deepest ruts and potholes proving to be unsettling. The extra polish added to the interior plastics is most welcome, and the enhanced perception is immediately noticeable as you grip the chunkier steering wheel. Quality is good, with mouldings that are attractive and built to stand up to punishing family life. The reprofiled seats deliver excellent support, are comfortable over long distances, and offer generous amounts of adjustment to suit all drivers. The only fly in the ointment is the audio system that has a dated appearance. Alright the interface has been redesigned, but once you start using the navigation system, the graphics are still dated and behind the curve when compared to rivals. Oddment space is well catered for, with a handy tray in front of the gear lever, a double level armrest cubby, as well as a goodsized glovebox and decently proportioned door pockets.

Our test car came with a panoramic roof, and pleasingly headroom is well provided for both front and rear. In fact, space is plentiful in all directions, with generous knee, leg and foot space for back seat occupants, though the hard plastics attached to the seat backs could become uncomfortable for taller passenger’s knees. In isolation, the boot space of 430 litres is just the job for a family of four, but compared to its main rivals, like the Kia Sportage and Peugeot 3008, it’s in the shade at 491 and 591 litres, respectively. Fold the rear chairs down and it opens up to 1,598 litres, up 13 litres compared to before.

On sale | Now
In showrooms | Now
Prices | £21,045 to £32,530
Bodystyles | 5-door SUV
Engines | 1.5 (109bhp), 1.6 (129bhp)
Trim levels | Visia, Acenta, N-Connecta, Tekna, Tekna+
Also consider | Renault Kadjar, SEAT Ateca
Model tested | Tekna dCi 110
Price | £27,780
Made in | Sunderland, UK
Bodystyle | 5-door SUV, 5-seats
Layout | Front-wheel-drive
Engine | 1461cc, 4-cylinder, 8-valve, turbo diesel
Stop-start | Yes
Selective catalyst reduction | No
Transmission | 6-speed manual
Maximum power | 109bhp @ 4,000rpm
Maximum torque | 192lb ft @ 1,750- 2,500rpm
Top speed | 113mph 0-62mph | 11.9secs
CO2 emissions | 99g/km
Economy (urban/extra urban/combined) | 67.3/78.5/74.3mpg
Fuel tank size | 55 litres
Range | 899 miles Insurance group | 15
Company car BIK rate | 21%
Size (length/width with mirrors) | 4,394/2,070mm
Boot space (min/max) | 430/1,598 litres
Kerb/maximum towing weight | 1,379/1,350kg