Nissan X-Trail

XTrail lr


By Tim Saunders

I have fond memories of driving the Volkswagen Passat two-litre diesel estate - some ten years ago now - because the acceleration was so impressive and the gearbox so smooth. The engine felt as if it would just go on and on. It was a joy to drive. I’m reminded of this as I sit in the Nissan X-Trail SUV. This is a much taller vehicle and probably a bit longer too because it accommodates up to seven occupants. It only has a 1.5-litre petrol engine. So I am pleasantly surprised when I put my foot down and hear the smooth note of the engine as it revs higher and higher through the gears. It’s just like that Passat. Yet it’s 500cc smaller and only has three cylinders, so Nissan has added a little turbo to enhance performance, which adds fun to the proceedings. The only thing is that if you’re too eager when driving this two wheel drive there is wheel spin, which is noticeable when pulling out of a side road or a roundabout. Nought to sixty in under 10 seconds and a top speed of 124mph while returning over 40mpg. Not bad though.  

It looks pretty cool, too, finished in a striking dark grey, slightly darker than the shade used by Volvo. I like it. There was a time when black was the preferred finish for many but this is a definite improvement in my book. The rear privacy glass contrasts nicely against this, too.

We all love the panoramic glass roof, which incorporates a tilt/slide electric sunroof, although Caroline finds that when this is open fully the sun catches her right on the head and burns her, so we have to close it. During the time of the test the pollen count is high and I really appreciate the air conditioning, which soothes my sore eyes and general stuffiness. The seats are comfy, we like the interesting use of fabrics and are surprised to find brown on the dashboard and on the doors inserts. You don’t find brown in many cars these days. It reminds me of my ‘80s childhood when this colour was inside both my parents’ Vauxhall Carlton and Belmont.  

The X-Trail is a family vehicle through and through and my two youngest: Heidi (11) and Henry (8) thoroughly enjoy sitting in that third row of seats; Henry preferring to clamber through the boot to get to his throne. Harriett (13) enjoys the peace and quiet of the middle row, which can be helpfully moved forward – so it’s a good way of splitting them up during a fraught and hectic half-term that has seen them having swimming lessons first thing each day and which has tired them out. Then Henry is worried about a forthcoming football tournament, which results in challenging behaviour to say the least. However, long car journeys help to calm him. We go to Bournemouth to collect a dressing table that Heidi has found online and it fits in the sizeable boot perfectly. Returning from our trip to the beach at East Wittering one sunny Sunday we are met with a closed M27 and have to divert a very long way via Petersfield back home. But we don’t really mind because it’s a chance for an extended drive that allows us to savour the beautiful Hampshire countryside. Another excursion is to the tip with bags of garden waste that are easily fitted into the boot. Yes, the X-Trail is a very capable vehicle indeed.

Facts at a glance
Nissan X-TRAIL MHEV NCON with towbar
Price: £38,885
Engine: 1.5-litre petrol
Top speed: 124mph
0 to 60mph: 9.6secs
Power: 163bhp


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