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X-Trail ticks right boxes as Nissan expands grip on crossover class

15:28 29 October 2014

Nissan X-Trail follows the styling cues of the big-selling Qashqai in a larger, more practical package that is available with seven seats.

Nissan X-Trail follows the styling cues of the big-selling Qashqai in a larger, more practical package that is available with seven seats.

Nissan

Nissan’s smart new X-Trail benefits from its crossover know-how, says motoring editor Andy Russell.

Nissan X-Trail n-tec 2WD

Price: five seats £27,295 (range £22,995 to £31,695)

Engine: 1,598cc, 130PS, four-cylinder turbo diesel

Performance: 0-62mph 10.5 seconds; top speed 117mph

MPG: Urban 49.6; extra urban 62.8; combined 57.6

CO2 emissions: 129g/km

Benefit-in-kind tax rate: 21%

Insurance group: 20 (out of 50)

Warranty: Three years or 60,000 miles

Will it fit in the garage? Length 4,640mm; width (excluding door mirrors) 1,830mm; height 1,710mm

Nissan knows a thing or two about about making an impact in the crossover market and it has drawn on its success for the all-new X-Trail.

With Nissan having top-10 UK sellers in the hugely-popular Qashqai and smaller funky Juke, it was time to spread its magic to the long-serving X-Trail. And what a difference – gone is the square, dumpy sport utility vehicle and in comes a sleek and curvy crossover, which draws heavily on the new Qashqai’s design cues.

If the previous model was seen as dependable, this one is downright dynamic with definite driveway appeal. In a blossoming market, where aesthetics are as important as ability, that is going to make it appeal to a wider audience.

Just one engine is available from launch and some people might be put off by the fact it is only a 1.6-litre turbo diesel putting out 130PS. But, having driven this Renault-Nissan Alliance engine in other models I had no fears it would not be up to the job. Despite being smaller than the outgoing X-Trail’s 2.0-litre unit, it has the same low-down pulling power – and that’s far more important in a crossover – but it’s far more efficient when it comes to economy and emissions. That’s even more important to buyers nowadays.

This turbo diesel, also offered in the Qashqui, will trickle along in slow traffic but needs a few revs to get the best out of it. Fortunately it is not a hardship as it remains refined, unless being worked really hard, and revs eagerly for decent mid-range, punchy acceleration to get past slower-moving traffic safely and swiftly. Once up to speed, it cruises comfortably and capably at motorway speeds and, even with some exhuberant driving, returned 45 to 54mpg in mixed driving.

A slick six-speed manual gearbox is standard but Nissan’s XTronic CVT automatic transmission is a £650 option with two-wheel drive versions in all but entry-level Visia, also the only trim not offered with optional £1,700 four-wheel drive. Front-wheel drive models have decent traction, although you can spin the front wheels in first and second gears on greasy roads if you are heavy on the throttle but the X-Trail’s electronic control systems soon gets a grip again. If you plan to tow or venture off the beaten track the extra outlay for better traction could be money well spent.

You don’t buy a crossover for sporty handling so little wonder, given Nissan’s experience in this field, the suspension is more geared to ride than roadholding and for the type of owner the X-Trail is aimed at you wouldn’t want it any other way.

The ride is generally comfortable, even over poor surfaces at urban crawling speeds, and, while the open-road handling is competent and well controlled with good feedback from the steering, there is the inevitable body lean through fast corners of a tall, upright vehicle with higher ground clearance. That said, if transporting the family, ride comfort is the priority rather than attacking the twists and turns.

When it comes to carrying passengers, the X-Trail comes as standard as a five-seater but for an extra £700 you can go for the seven-seat option of a third row of two more seats that fold away under the boot floor.

They’re easy enough to get to and despite being able to vary legroom, with the second row of seats sliding back and forth, they’re going to be best suited to children and, for short journeys, small adults.

In seven-seat mode, luggage capacity is reduced to a few shopping bags or a couple of soft holdalls. Even with those rearmost seats folded down into the floor the boot is not as useful, nor practical, as the standard five-seat version which offers up to 550 litres of load space and a versatile twin-panel, split-level floor which can be removed altogether for maximum depth, set at sill level for easier loading and some hidden storage space beneath it or the biggest panel can be raised to another level to put large cases beneath and still be able to store smaller items on the higher shelf. The smaller panel can be slotted upright to divide the boot and restrain loose loads, such as shopping bags, to prevent them sliding around.

The cabin is tastefully finished with decent materials and quality and my n-tec spec test car looked good too with gloss black trim panels and brightwork highlights to go with the clear dials, logical controls and intuitive touchscreen.

Visia, Acenta, n-tec and Tekna trim levels give attractiive levels of kit.

Nissan is leading the way in the mainstream crossover market and seems unable to put a foot wrong at with the Qashqai and Juke. That is borne out with the new X-Trail which takes its range to the next level.

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Andy Russell

Andy Russell

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EDP motoring editor, journalist who loves wheels and engines but hates cleaning them.

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