Nissan X-Trail: car review

Posted on June 20th, 2014 by James Luckhurst

The Nissan X-Trail is an excellent all-rounder but is at risk of losing its identity and morphing into the Qashqai Nissan X-Trail: car review

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What is it?

The Nissan X-Trail is a beefy, go-anywhere vehicle first introduced in 2001. With global sales in excess of 1.7 million, the somewhat softer third generation model has even more all-round appeal.

How safe is it?

The vehicle has yet to be tested in the Euro NCAP safety ratings. The outgoing model was awarded four stars but Nissan is confident it will achieve the full five stars this time round. As well as plenty of kit as standard there are optional safety packs available.

Who should buy one?

Anyone who demands versatility, practicality, reliability and a richly-equipped vehicle. The Nissan X-Trail can cope with the harsher elements but still look respectable on the school run.

DRIVING AND PERFORMANCE
Nissan X-Trail: car review

Nissan lays claim to inventing the crossover market when it unveiled the multi-purpose Qashqai and added to its strengths with the popular Juke, so it’s little surprise that the latest incarnation of the rugged X-Trail is displaying somewhat gentile characteristics.
It certainly boasts a more sporty, streamlined and energetic stance – long gone are the box-like upright design cues and in their place are sweeping curves and a very modern appearance.
At launch, buyers are only being offered the Renault-Nissan Alliance 128bhp, 1.6 dci diesel engine that generates 320Nm of torque. But this more frugal powertrain produces the same torque as the outgoing 2.0-litre version but is much cleaner and more efficient.
In fact, the new X-Trail boasts some impressive improvements – it is 30 per cent more efficient on fuel, has dropped 10 insurance group ratings, carbon emissions have been cut by 39g/km and the residual value is also up by nine per cent.
However, there is a choice between a six-speed manual or a CVT automatic transmission along with two or four-wheel-drive variants. And a seven-seat option is available which will be welcome news for some buyers as Nissan has recently ditched its Qashqai+2 model which could accommodate seven occupants.
Despite the engine downsize, the X-Trail still boasts enough power to take on long, taxing inclines and the light yet incisive steering is a bonus when meandering along winding country lanes. In fact the test car in range-topping Tekna trim with 2WD and a manual gearbox was deceptively sprightly and a far cry from its somewhat cumbersome predecessor.
The road-holding was excellent and tight bends could be approached with confidence. There is a little road surface noise, but in all reality it is not too bad.
Admittedly, the X-Trail is not the fastest out of the starting blocks and there are more dynamic models out there, but it’s worth remembering the X-Trail is a very capable vehicle over rougher terrain and can cope with any mood swing Mother Nature throws its way.
It’s also worth noting that Nissan is introducing a 1.6 DIG-T petrol derivative next year for anyone who dislikes diesel cars.

SPACE AND PRACTICALITY
Nissan X-Trail: car review

The new X-Trail is 30mm wider, 5mm lower and 90kgs lighter than the outgoing model. The wheelbase has been increased by 76mm and all those dimension changes result in extra passenger space – it has the best levels of rear legroom in its sector.
There is a theatre seating layout throughout the car which means each row is slightly higher than the one in front. This addresses any claustrophobic issues for third row passengers, although the limited leg room does make them only suitable for children.
With an active family in mind, storage options have to be impressive and the X-Trail doesn’t disappoint. The seats slide and recline in a matter of seconds and there is a double load boot floor with nine differing configurations. The storage capacity is 550 litres, but with middle seats folded flat, the capacity is increased to a very impressive 1,142 litres. The powered tailgate is an advantage when approaching the vehicle laden down with shopping.
Another notable point is the rear doors that open to 80 degrees to improve access and the X-Trail also boasts zero-gravity inspired seats with spinal supports to deliver excellent comfort levels even on the bumpiest of road surfaces.

SAFETY
Nissan X-Trail: car review

All four trim levels feature a comprehensive array of safety specifications and the top end models can also be fitted with Nissan’s Safety Shield technology which introduces the likes of forward emergency braking, driver attention alert, traffic sign recognition, lane departure warning, blind spot warning, moving object detect and high beam assist.
The high-seated driving position results in excellent all-round visibility and rear parking cameras and sensors make squeezing into a tight space much safer and simpler. Clear and precise instrumentation is another plus factor for the X-Trail.

EQUIPMENT
Nissan X-Trail: car review

The Nissan X-Trail is generously equipped at all trim levels with air conditioning, LED daytime running lights, a five-inch colour display screen, Bluetooth with microphone, cruise control and plenty more besides as standard.
Move up the range and you can expect to see the introduction of Bi-LED headlamps, leather seats, electrically-adjustable driver’s seat, front and rear parking sensors, 19-inch alloy wheels, Intelligent key with engine start button and the latest generation NissanConnect in-car navigation, information and entertainment system.

COSTS
Nissan X-Trail: car review

Downsizing from the gas-guzzling 2.0-litre engine to the far more economical 1.6 dci diesel engine means cash savings at the fuel pumps, on tax payments, insurance and on residual values too.
That could cause quite a blow to rivals from Kia, Toyota and Hyundai, although the crossover market is proving a fiercely competitive segment.
But combined fuel efficiency of almost 58mpg is not to be sniffed at especially when it is delivered by such a spacious and practical vehicle.

WE SAY

The Nissan X-Trail is an excellent all-rounder but is at risk of losing its identity and morphing into the Qashqai.

AT A GLANCE:
Price: £29,995
Performance: 0-62mph in 10.5 seconds
Economy: 57.6mpg combined
Insurance: Group 20
Tax: Band D

Figures for the 1.6 dci 2WD model in Tekna trim (manual)