AND so it was – with Qashqai packed and fully laden – that I set out with my old school pal Nick for three days on the road watching the Roger Albert Clark Rally.

If ever there was a test for a car’s versatility, this would be it!

The Nissan’s task? – to transport two rally enthusiasts into remote corners of Wales during Storm Arwen, to swallow any amount of bags and provisions, and to provide sleeping accommodation as we ‘camped’ overnight in the forests awaiting the following morning’s Special Stages.

Bradford Telegraph and Argus: All the essentials for a weekend at the rall packed into the boot

Whether it was setting off from Yorkshire in deep snow, or towing a fellow spectator’s stricken car along a forest track, it was to be a weekend full of challenges – and the sure-footed Qashqai coped admirably with everything we threw at it!

With hundreds of miles to cover, we came to appreciate the improved cabin refinement and extra space in the latest model.

The driving experience is smooth, with the interior well insulated from road and wind noise.

The 1.3-litre mild hybrid petrol engine provides improved efficiency and reduces emissions, while feeling sufficient for most situations. But there are times when it seems a bit lacking in low-down torque, while the gearbox isn’t especially sporty. It all adds up to a 0-62 mph time of nearly 10 seconds, which won’t set the pulse racing. Then again, the Qashqai’s target audience probably won’t be buying it for blistering performance.

That said, it had enough grunt and grip to heave a hapless friend’s ailing Skoda Octavia a few miles on a tow bar after its driver cracked the sump on the slippery and rutted road leading to the spectator area. With its raised ride height, the Qashqai had no such problems with undercarriage clearance.

Bradford Telegraph and Argus: Left, the Nissan Qashqai Tekna in Kirklees, West Yorkshire, after returning from a trip to watch the rally in Wales. Top right, evidence of the wide range of items the car’s boot can swallow

While this two-wheel-drive crossover might not possess ‘go anywhere’ qualities, it did at least prove itself capable of an element of rugged, rough and tumble driving.

A new platform means the Qashqai now has a longer wheelbase, which improves legroom for passengers and has increased overall luggage capacity by 74 litres.

While the Nissan engineers might not have had this in mind, the extra space also makes the car good to sleep in, as you can recline the front seats into a near-flat position and snooze in relative comfort.

As overnight temperatures dipped below zero, the heated seats – a nice creature comfort for parents on the school run – proved absolutely essential in the middle of an icy Welsh forest, providing the chance for a 3am blast of heat.

The overall fit and finish of the cabin is excellent, while much of the tech on offer is also of a high standard. This includes the impressive 12.3-inch full TFT screen, which offers a choice of configurable layouts to display navigation, entertainment, traffic or vehicle information.

Bradford Telegraph and Argus: Nissan Qashqai Tekna

Meanwhile, advanced smartphone connectivity and wireless charging helped to keep us connected to the world around. The SatNavs accuracy in taking us to the correct entrance to the Crychan Forest special stage was also worthy of mention.

In terms of appearance, the latest Qashqai has been given a sharper and more muscular edge, with an enhanced body stance and more prominent shoulder lines.

The matrix headlights are thinner and more contemporary, feeding in nicely to the central grille, which has evolved into a more eye-catching feature.

Two-tone paintwork also enhances vehicle’s more purposeful appearance.

Over the decades, we’ve taken an eclectic mix of vehicles on the jaunt to watch the rally, including fuel-glugging powerful beasts, luxurious large SUVs and cramped sporty cars.

But the Qashqai – as an all-rounder – proved to be a very comfortable, practical and durable companion. It’s not hard to see why they sell like hot cakes – and this third generation model looks set to continue that trend.