Have you ever considered buying a Nissan might be one way of helping the UK car industry?

For every year more than 440,000 cars roll off the Japanese firm’s production lines at Sunderland led by the Qashqai.

I have loved the quirkily-named car since it was launched and I am not alone, as it was the fourth best-selling car in the UK last year and also tops the European crossover sales charts.

The latest model combines all the benefits of space, high driving position and versatility that made the original an instant success, but its premium interior and advanced technology have pushed the latest model into a different league.

As befits such a longstanding success, it has been chosen as the first Nissan model to use a new petrol engine, offering lower CO2 emissions and reduced fuel consumption.

The 1.3-litre engine, available in 140 horsepower and 160 horsepower versions replaces both the previous 1.2 and 1.6-litre units.

It has been developed by the Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi alliance and, as an example of the complexity of the modern car market, the engine will also make its way into Mercedes-Benz vehicles.

I drove the 140 horsepower version, mated to a slick six-speed manual gearbox, and that delivers more than enough oomph for crisp, cross-country touring and relaxed motorway cruising.

The Qashqai’s ride and handling have always been impressive, but the improved response and acceleration from the new engine with its smoother power delivery makes for a quieter and more refined drive.

The importance of the new power unit to Nissan is underlined by the fact that the company expects the engine to be fitted to more than half of all Qashqais sold.

And that is a lot of cars, as UK production of the Qashqai sailed past the three million mark early last year, just over a decade after the model was launched.

Its success is easy to understand, as this is a comfortable, spacious and well thought-out car, capable of handling just about anything a family can throw at it. From the supremely comfortable front seats and high level of technology, to a plethora of sensibly-sized storage compartments complete with power sockets and a cleverly-designed boot space with shelves and dividers, the Qashqai is a car that can cope.

Priced from about £19,300, every new Qashqai comes with anti-lock brakes, electronic brakeforce distribution and stability control, along with a tyre pressure monitoring system and six airbags as standard.

And the car driven here, in upmarket N-Connecta trim, comes with a dazzling array of technology from blind spot warning, rear cross traffic alert and moving object detection to traffic sign recognition, high beam assist, lane departure warning, emergency braking with pedestrian recognition, front and rear parking sensors and a 360-degree colour camera that delivers a bird’s eye view for easy parking.

Of last year’s top ten UK best-selling cars, apart from the Qashqai and the Mini, all were made abroad. The Ford Fiesta which is built in Cologne claimed the top spot, followed by the Volkswagen Golf, which is manufactured at the Wolfsburg plant in Germany, and the third best-selling car was the Vauxhall Corsa, also made in Germany.

The truth is that British-made cars are relatively thin on the ground and apart from Nissan it is Jaguar Land Rover, Mini, Toyota, Honda and the Vauxhall Astra making up the bulk of the choice.

Of course if your I’m Backing Britain budget stretches a little further you might consider an Aston Martin or Lotus – or maybe a Bentley or Rolls-Royce.

Auto facts

Model: Nissan Qashqai 1.3 DIG-T N-Connecta

Price: £25,025 as tested

Insurance group: 15E (1-50)

Fuel consumption (combined): 53.2mpg

Top speed: 120mph

Length: 439.4cm/172.5in

Width: 180.6cm/70.9in

Luggage capacity: 14.2 cu ft

Fuel tank capacity: 12.1 gallons/55 litres

CO2 emissions: 121g/km

Warranty: Three years/ 60,000 miles