Flagship Nissan X-Trail large SUV gains X-tra appeal
PUBLISHED: 09:29 11 December 2017 | UPDATED: 09:29 11 December 2017
Nissan’s large X-Trail SUV is never going to be as popular as the smaller Qashqai but this flagship soft-roader’s seven-seat option now gives it a clear identity, says motoring editor Andy Russell.
Nissan’s X-Trail is on top of the world as best-selling sport utility vehicle but, for all that success, it’s eclipsed in the UK by the smaller Qashqai which launched the crossover class 10 years ago and is a top 10 seller.
The problem was that the Qashqai was as bold and stylish as the early X-Trail was boxy and staid, then Qashqai +2 matched the X-Trail’s ability to carry seven people.
Looks and image
The X-Trail’s styling was brought into line with the Qashqai in 2014 and has now also had a mid-life makeover with a wider grille, new lights – LED as standard at the back - and more robust bumpers.
And with the demise of the longer Qashqai+2, the larger X-Trail is Nissan’s only seven-seater SUV with two third-row seats costing another £1,000 and £660 on range-topping Tekna.
Interior quality has also been enhanced with a new D-shaped steering wheel and more upmarket trim materials but many other new features are offered only on Tekna.
Under the bonnet
There was a time diesel was the natural choice for any large SUV but the diesel backlash is making petrol appealing.
As well as 130PS 1.6-litre and 177PS 2.0-litre turbo diesels, with two and four-wheel drive, manual or auto gearboxes, there’s a front-wheel drive, 163PS 1.6-litre turbo petrol to tempt those who don’t cover big mileage, tow or regularly haul loads of cargo and passengers.
Unlike the diesels, you need to stir it into life with the six-speed manual gearbox to get the revs up but are rewarded with sprightly performance without sacrificing refinement as it revs freely. Expect 35 to 40mpg overall and low 40s on a run.
How it drives
The firm suspension, combined with the N-Connecta’s bigger 18in wheels –top models get 19in ones, makes for a bobbly, bouncy ride that fidgets on the smoothest roads, especially travelling light.
It copes with winding country roads but, press on, and body roll builds and the X-Trail isn’t as agile as newer rivals. That said, it’s not a car designed to tackle twisty roads with great gusto.
Space and comfort
The best seats in the house are up front or the three-seat bench which splits 60/40 and slides back and forth to vary legroom and load or passenger space if you opt for those two extra optional seats. Those simply flip up from the boot floor but are quite small with little footspace, even if those in the middle give up some of their ample legroom, so most suitable for children.
With seven seats in use there’s room for a few bags of shopping in the boot, with an underfloor compartment to stow the tonneau cover, but with the 50/50 rearmost seats folded away this rises to 445 litres. The five-seat model has a much bigger boot that has grown to 565 litres with improved packaging.
At the wheel
Nissan has improved the cabin quality but, while the materials feel good, lots of dark plastics don’t look particularly swish although you can’t fault the fit and finish.
Big, clear dials, sensible switchgear and good seat and steering wheel adjustment make it user-friendly but the central infotainment screen is small compared to those on most competitors.
Nissan doesn’t skimp on standard kit and the top two grades now have hands-free tailgate opening, all models get DAB digital radio and it introduces ProPilot autonomous drive which controls steering, acceleration and braking in its lane.
It also gains new and upgraded driver safety aids, depending on model, to keep it competitive.
The X-Trail now has a clear identity as Nissan’s flagship SUV but makes most sense as a seven-seater to distinguish it from hugely-popular Qashqai.
SPEC AND TECH
Price: Nissan X-Trail N-Connecta 1.6 Dig-T £28,350 (range £23,385 to £37,410)
Engine: 1,618cc, 163PS, four-cylinder turbo petrol with six-speed manual gearbox
Performance: 0-62mph 9.7 seconds; top speed 124mph
MPG: Urban 34.9; extra urban 51.4; combined 44.1
CO2 emissions: 149g/km
Benefit-in-kind tax rate: 28pc
Insurance group: 18 (out of 50)
Warranty: Three years or 60,000 miles
Will it fit in the garage? L 4,690mm; W 1,820mm; H 1,740mm