Why you shouldn’t be fooled into thinking that the all-new Nissan X-Trail is just an overgrown Qashqai…
Nissan started the crossover revolution in 2006 when it launched the Qashqai. The boxy, but practical Nissan X-Trail still sold in big numbers around the world, but it was overshadowed by its good-looking baby brother.
Nissan has learned from the success of the Qashqai and the third generation X-Trail has a more stylish, muscular look. In fact, head-on from afar, it’s hard to differentiate between the two.
However, when I parked my X-Trail test car up against a new Qashqai in a car park, the difference was obvious. The X-Trail is noticeably longer, wider and taller.
The differences don’t stop there. The X-Trail has two and four-wheel-drive options, an optional third row of seats and literally oozes space front and rear.
Nissan expects most people to opt for the front-wheel-drive versions of the car. My entry-level X-Trail Visia with manual transmission cost £22,995, though I’ve also driven the four-wheel-drive X-Trail n-tec (from £28,995) off-road.
The only engine available at launch is a 1.6-litre diesel (1.6 petrol to follow in 2015) – but what an engine. Yes, it’s a little coarse under acceleration, but it’s powerful – feeling more like a 2.0-litre unit – and settles down to cruise effortlessly at motorway speeds.
The only downside of all that punch is that I found the front wheels sometimes lost traction under hard acceleration in wet conditions, so if you plan to go off-road or live in the middle of nowhere, upgrade to the very competent 4wd.
That said, coupled with a slick, six-speed gearbox and light steering, the X-Trail is very driveable and it feels solid and safe.
It’s also very frugal. Nissan claims the X-Trail is capable of 57.6mpg, and I have no reason to doubt that. I achieved 50mpg without too much trouble which is very impressive for a relatively big car.
The X-Trail is also a winner inside, because it’s roomy, classy, comfortable and well laid out with good use of quality materials.
Of course, there’s the commanding driving position you’d expect in this class of car and it never feels like it’s a handful.
However, I’m slightly sceptical about the seven-seat option (which costs an extra £700). Despite the fact that the rear eats cleverly move forward to allow more legroom for the third row, they really are only for very small people.
Once up, the third row of seats also eats into the otherwise impressive load space.
The new X-Trail is equipped with plenty of goodies as standard for safety and security, plus comfort and convenience. The list includes a 5-inch multimedia screen, Bluetooth connectivity, cruise control with speed limiter and six airbags. Naturally, there are more gizmos available if you pay for extra for a higher spec model.
The X-Trail’s rivals include the Honda CR-V and Toyota RAV4, while the Hyundai Santa Fe and Kia Sorrento is the only crossover competitors also able to offer seven seats.
And finally, it’s also worth noting that the X-Trail was recently awarded a maximum five star crash safety rating from Euro NCAP.
Verdict: the all-new Nissan X-Trail is a car transformed – safe, spacious, stylish, economical, easy to drive, practical and