Nissan Qashqai from Sunderland to Istanbul, day eight

Nissan Qashqai from Sunderland to Istanbul, day eight

Our country-crossing journey in the new Qashqai stops in Istanbul, swapping motorways for back-alleys before starting on the homeward leg

So for the first day in a week, we drew breath. On Sunday, Autocar’s trek across Europe in the new Nissan Qashqai reached the end of the outward-bound leg in Istanbul, and yesterday we remained in the capital, seeking out locations for snapper Stan to shoot the car.

It was a strange feeling to temporarily put down roots after several 500-mile thrashes across countries. Constant motion gets under your skin; days blend together, and you start distinguishing between nations by the quality of their road network and frequency of service stations.

The odometer told us that we’d amassed 2983 miles since the first Autocar driving team – Richard Bremner and Stan Papior – left Nissan’s production facility in Sunderland on Monday 17 February. We’d not taken the most direct route across the Continent, but we’d ticked off as many countries as was practical on our way to Istanbul. Greece gave us the slip; the signpost temptingly hove into view as we headed across Bulgaria, but we were worried about border hold-ups at Turkey so decided not to divert south.

Istanbul was chosen as our destination because it represents one of the points where east meets west, and seemed to reflect the ethos behind the Qashqai, the product of a Japanese company that is woven into European culture.

The rest day didn’t mean that our Qashqai was spared from work, but instead of miles of featureless motorway, it had to negotiate the streets of Istanbul, one of the busiest and most vibrant cities on the planet, renowned for its feverish drivers who make up for lack of road discipline with absolute commitment that they have the right of way.

For the Qashqai, this meant plenty of shunting between first and second gears on tight cobbled streets, plus decent use of the parking sensors to avoid ambitiously parked cars, kamikaze pedestrians and the odd feral feline. We were grateful for the lightness of the Qashqai’s controls, given the frequency with which we were juggling them.

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