2012 Best Buys: Compact SUV

NISSAN QASHQAI (Winner)

Is it a hatch? Is it an SUV? When the first Qashqai was launched it was a tough vehicle to classify. Since then its range has grown substantially now including a seven-seater, front wheel drive or 4×4, you can even choose between a turbo diesel and a petrol derivative. Thankfully they also squashed that piggy nose on the original and sharpened the visage substantially making it far more appealing to those in need of macho wheels. The Qashqai product has grown in stature and resolve and we’re confident you’ll find one that suits your needs despite being marginally smaller than the Korean offerings. Space is more than adequate, whilst ride comfort makes it a champion in this segment. The cabin manages to look premium even with a cloth trim and the spec levels on a Qashqai are generally high across the range. Nissan also have a great way of delivering feedback through the steering wheel, a trick they’ve mastered in their sports cars and a quality that filters through sufficiently here too. The reward is a truly engaging drive that shrinks the vehicle around its driver. Couple that with its eager 2-litre petrol model and you’ll have the perfect extra urban runabout.

NEED TO KNOW

PRICE | R238 500-R347 500

ENGINES | 1.6-litre petrol, 2.0-litre petrol and diesel

TRANSMISSION | 5/6-speed manual, CVT

Finalists

Juke

NISSAN JUKE

If you thought the Qashqai was hard to categorise, wait till you see this thing. Honestly Nissan, we’ve gone through the trouble of creating all these segments, would it hurt you to make cars that fill them neatly? Quirky looks, hot hatch performance and a fun cabin with lots of toys. This is another brilliant hatch… err Compact SUV from Nissan.

 

KIA SPORTAGE

The first entrant from Team Korea is the Sportage, plagued only by a tragically long waiting list – a by-product of high demand. It’s also one of the closest concept to production car transitions we’ve ever seen which is why it looks like a 2030 model. All the compact SUV boxes are verily ticked with front wheel and four wheel drive options, a commanding vantage point and a million ways to connect your iPod.

ix35

HYUNDAI IX35

The Hyundai comes across as the Sportage’s plainer, more practical sibling but in truth there’s little more than a bodyshell that distinguishes them. The Hyundai is marginally more expensive too and with slightly less standard features but your choice between them will still most likely come down to badge preference.

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