Nissan’s latest crossover the QASHQAI, when fitted with the constant variable transmission (CVT), boasts a lower exhaust emission level and improved fuel economy over the manual. Yes, an automatic that’s better for the environment and your wallet, compared to the equivalent manual. And you can choose to have it in either two- or four-wheel drive.

Linked to an all new lightweight aluminium fuel efficient 2.0 litre petrol engine the CVT shows a CO2 rating of 192g/km compared to 199g/km for the manual which represents a 3.6% improvement. Economy goes up from 41.5mpg to 43.5mpg in the extra urban cycle and from 34.4mpg to 35.3mpg in the combined cycle.

It’s more comfortable too: a long uphill drive in a conventional automatic will invariably be accompanied by regular down shifts as the engine hunts for power. With CVT, the engine revs stay constant as the transmission itself adjusts seamlessly to ensure momentum is maintained. CVT also ensures less power loss which results in better efficiency and performance.

The advantages do not end there. CVT is a computer controlled ‘stepless’ transmission providing a virtually limitless number of ratios, ensuring the engine is always working as efficiently as possible, resulting in smoother acceleration. However, if you wish to manually change gear then a computer generated six speed sequential manual override is provided through the gear lever to give a more sporty drive.

A 2.0 litre two-wheel drive QASHQAI fitted with CVT costs £15,999 which is £1100 more than the manual. The four-wheel drive version starts at £17,599. Either way they will both be sure footed as ESP is fitted as standard.

Within the recently announced Nissan Green Programme CVT is an influential part of the overall strategy. Compared to a conventional automatic it emits 10% fewer g/km and with a target to achieve one million sales of CVT-equipped vehicles by the end of FY2007 the benefits are substantial.