Nissan X-Trail – Review
by Liam Bird
You can’t blame Nissan for wanting to, ahem, please pardon the pun, cash-in on the success of their family friendly Qashqai. Its success took everybody – not least Nissan themselves – a little by surprise. So much so in fact that their Sunderland plant has been on three shifts a day, seven days a week, more or less from the day it was launched and is currently the sixth best-selling car in the UK. No wonder then that when it came to giving their larger X-Trail a thorough makeover it was the Qashqai they turned to for inspiration.
The new X-Trail – and it is an altogether new version rather than just a warmed over version of the previous model – bears a striking resemblance to its little sister; you really need to see them parked side-by-side to truly notice the differences. The X-Trail is now swoopy-shaped, far more attractive and altogether less boxy than it once was, nevertheless Qashqai and X-Trail share the same floorpan.
Both sit on the same Renault-Nissan CMF platform that will go on to provide the base for a host of mid-sized vehicles due from both the French and the Japanese manufacturers. In the X-Trail’s case it’s been stretched and, as a result (and for a £700 premium), the X-Trail, thanks to it’s longer wheelbase, can be had as a seven-seater. Well, 5+2 – nobody but the very small can comfortably inhabit row three for anything other than short journeys. Oh! and the seven seat Qashqai +2 is no longer.
Currently the X-Trail is only available with a 130bhp 1.6 litre diesel engine; petrol versions, a 1.6 and a 2-litre too possibly, are due soon. Coupled to the nicely positive and smooth-shifting six-speed gearbox the diminutively sized oil-burner punches harder than you might suspect. 128bhp, and a rather handy for overtaking 236 lbft of torque, provide surprisingly lively, if not exactly earth shattering performance. But that said, for a family-orientated SUV with a, shall we say compliant (some might say soft) ride, 0-62mph in 10.5 seconds is not to be sniffed at. 57.6 MPG is worthy of note too. A 90kg weight saving and the new more slippery shape, one suspects, help on both counts.
“Comfort and build quality”
Whereas once the X-Trail was bought for its abilities off-road – and fear not mud-pluggers, X-Trails with a part-time selectable four-wheel-drive system are still available – it’s predicted that the majority of those tempted to buy one now will plump for the simpler, less expensive front-wheel drive-only version (as tested).
Never once did I stray off the tarmac, so it’s not fair for me to comment about how the X-Trial might perform when truly off-road. I suspect though, with a set of good winter tyres fitted, even the two-wheel drive would still provide more than enough grip for day-to-day family duties come winter time.
It also provides the classic elevated driving position with the accompaniment of vista-like views. There’s a boot capable of carrying five people’s weekend luggage. Trust me on this one, I really did take my family away for the weekend in the X-Trail. Plus there’s a cabin that now provides comfort and build quality of a measure none of us were quite really expecting from a car wearing a Nissan badge.
And that just about sums the new X-trail up. It’s practical, comfortable, pretty economical, undemanding and far easier to handle than its size might have you believe. It’s also nicely built and rather stylish too. Tick your options list wisely and not only will it seat seven it’ll pull them off a muddy festival field too. Everyone I took out in the car seemed pleasantly surprised by it. As, I’m happy to report, was I.
You’ve probably got another bestseller on your hands Nissan; job well done.
Nissan X-Trail n-tec dCi 130
Engine: 1598cc 4Cyl Diesel turbo
Transmission: 6 Speed Manual, front wheel drive
Power: 128 bhp @ 4000pm
Torque: 236 lbft @ 1750rpm
0-62MPH: 10.5 Sec
Max Speed: 117 mph
MPG: 57.6 combined
Price: £27,295 (car driven £27,845)