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Flagship Nissan X-Trail large SUV gains X-tra appeal

PUBLISHED: 09:29 11 December 2017 | UPDATED: 09:29 11 December 2017

Nissan X-Trail facelift includes a wider grille and more robust bumper. Picture: Nissan

Nissan X-Trail facelift includes a wider grille and more robust bumper. Picture: Nissan

Nissan

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 X-Trail makeover includes new lights and bumpers. Picture: NissanNissan X-Trail makeover includes new lights and bumpers. Picture: Nissan

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

New D-shaped steering wheel stands out in revised interior. Picture: NissanNew D-shaped steering wheel stands out in revised interior. Picture: Nissan

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.

Nissan X-Trail's bench seat slides to vary legroom. Picture: NissanNissan X-Trail's bench seat slides to vary legroom. Picture: Nissan

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.

Long load bay in five-seat mode. Picture: NissanLong load bay in five-seat mode. Picture: Nissan

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.

Nissan X-Trail's optional extra two seats are best suited to children. Picture: NissanNissan X-Trail's optional extra two seats are best suited to children. Picture: Nissan

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.

Boot space is limited with seven seats in use but load cover stows under floor. Picture: NissanBoot space is limited with seven seats in use but load cover stows under floor. Picture: Nissan

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.

Equipment

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.

Final say

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

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