Sport, Normal or Eco? We work out how best to configure our crossover.

The Nissan Qashqai has a Sport driving mode. This surprises me a bit, because the Qashqai isn’t the sort of car you would think of as being sporty in any way, shape or form. That’s not meant as a criticism: the Qashqai is very good at what it does. But I would describe it using words like practical, durable and sensible. Sport? Not so much. Of course, lots of not very sporting cars now offer a Sport mode, I suspect because Sport is a better name than Practical or Sensible.

Sport hints at a possibility of fun; it gives a sheen of performance. But here’s the thing about the Qashqai’s Sport mode: I can’t really tell what it does. In fact, I can’t much tell the difference between any of theEco – that you can pick using the D-Mode toggle. Changing between them doesn’t seem to affect the acceleration or output of the car in any particular way. Selecting Sport doesn’t even prompt an increase in fake engine noise or flashy red digital graphics, as you get in some cars (although I’m definitely not complaining about that). It could be because our Qashqai is a manual, so Nissan’s boffins are less able to alter performance through timing gearchanges. I’m not sure. Anyway, I think it gets marginally better economy in Eco (it’s slight, but it seems to make a small difference), so I tend to stick it in that for every journey. When I remember, that is: the drive select defaults to Normal every time you switch the engine off. Still, I’m not really complaining about the lack of difference in the driving modes.

The Qashqai isn’t very sporty to drive, so I wouldn’t really want a more aggressive Sport mode. It’s more benign than that, which is fine. Recently, I’ve had to make a series of relatively long motorway journeys and, given the price of petrol at the moment, I’m minded to try to be as efficient as possible. Through a bit of practice, I can regularly get an MPG in the mid-40s, but on occasion – and the right roads – I’ve eclipsed that. The Qashqai’s trip computer logs all your journeys and prominently displays your best one. On a recent trip that involved steady driving on A-roads, I achieved a new best of 50.8mpg. At the end of the journey, the Qashqai asked me if I wanted tosave my high score, much like an old-school arcade machine. And why, yes. Yes, I would like to save my score, thank you very much. It means that every time I turn on the Qashqai, I have a new efficiency target to aim for. Another reason why I’m not that bothered by Sport mode.

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