IN 2007 when Nissan was looking for a name for their latest crossover vehicle, they settled on Qashqai.
The Qashqai were originally a nomadic tribe in Iran, who even today roam the vast, desolate expanses of this fascinating land.
The designers of the vehicle reckoned that buyers "would be nomadic in nature too".
Which is all very well, but no matter how hard I try to pronounce the word, it always seems to come out like I have a mouthful of porridge!
Thank goodness the vehicle itself is a little less complicated.
Our test vehicle was the 2,0 dCi (diesel) but petrol derivatives come in both 1,6 and 2,0 litres.
It's a mid-sized vehicle with the interior nicely proportioned. Even with the front seats pushed right back, room for rear passengers is more than adequate and the nice leather trim helps provide a more than comfortable ride.
The boot also provides ample space for month-end shopping or a couple of suitcases for a few days away.
Unfortunately, I did not have the opportunity to test its off-road capabilities, but a strong feature of the vehicle is its easily accessible 4x4 system.
Situated next to the hand brake, a simple dial allows you to select a driving mode for the appropriate conditions.
2WD is for around-town/open highway, lock mode for off-roading or auto mode, whereby the electronic control unit instantly apportions the ideal amount of torque to the rear wheels so you don't get stuck.
The ride is nice and high, and vision while driving is above average due to slightly bigger than normal side mirrors.
The nice thing with the Qashqai is that a long list of features come included in the cost (R330000) - fog lamps, air bags, stability control, ABS, full-size spare wheel, duel air-conditioning, and so on.
Power-wise the diesel engine provides plenty of grunt in the lower gears, which is a good indication that towing a trailer or caravan wouldn't be too much of a problem, and the 110kW it produces is similar to other vehicles in its class.
With my driving confined to Johannesburg, I managed 8,9 litres per 100km, which is reasonable. That figure will drop on the open road.
If the sound of a diesel vehicle is not your thing, then consider the petrol alternative, as the Qashqai diesel makes a clatter when starting up but after a while you don't notice it.
The Qashqai is a solid, all-round vehicle with its 4x4 capabilities a plus for those looking for outdoor adventure.