Nissan’s X-Trail has been with us in its current guise for a couple of years now.
Radically different from the original model it took lessons learned from the runaway success that is the Qashqai and scaled them up, in the process leading the way on mid-sized SUVs with seven seats.
Now, though, it’s got a whole lot of serious competition. With models like the Skoda Kodiaq, Mitsubishi Outlander, Peugeot 5008 and VW Tiguan there’s plenty of choice for buyers looking for four-wheel drive, half-decent towing abilities and the option of seven seats.
Thankfully for Nissan the X-Trail still has some fundamental strengths on which to draw. Despite its size and height it drives well with decent body control, ride and refinement. It’s also still a good looking car with road presence, although our test car’s Monarch Orange might be too eye-catching for some buyers. And it can be had with Nissan’s impressive 4×4-i system.
Nissan X-Trail Tekna dCi 130 4WD
Engine: 1.6-litre, four-cylinder, diesel
Transmission: Six-speed manual
Top speed: 115mph
0-62mph: 11 seconds
CO2 emissions: 143g/km
It’s generously equipped, too, but you do pay handsomely for the high-end Tekna spec. For your £35,455 you’ll get pretty much all you’ll ever need. From a hands-free powered tailgate and panoramic roof to heated rear seats, automatically operated everything, dual-zone air con and a heavy-duty Bose sound system. There’s also park assist, seven-inch media/nav screen with the excellent around view monitor, 19-inch alloys and full leather upholstery.
Safety kit is good too. Beyond the usual modern stability, chassis and traction controls it includes adaptive front lighting, autonomous emergency braking with pedestrian detection, blind spot and lane departure warning as well as 360-degree monitoring with moving object detection.
Sadly, though, what Nissan gives with one hand, it takes away with the other. At that price rivals from Skoda, Peugeot, Mitsubishi and even Land Rover offer seven seats (missing from the test car) and more powerful diesel engines.
The Skoda and Peugeot also offer better interiors. The X-Trail is well equipped but, despite a refresh, the interior lacks the flair of the Peugeot or the feeling of solid class of the Skoda. A new steering wheel and touches such as leather dash inserts can’t stop it suddenly feeling a bit dated.
That said, it’s still spacious for five, comfortable and brilliantly bright thanks to the giant opening sunroof.
Our test car’s 128bhp 1.6-litre diesel also lags behind offerings in rivals. It’s down on power and torque and noisy compared to the 2.0 units available elsewhere. You can have a 2.0 in the X-Trail but it’s £1,265 extra and even less refined. The 1.6 can at least achieve low-50s real-world economy with a little effort. In comparison our long-term 2.0-litre Kodiaq never beat 45mpg.
The X-Trail was a bit of a pioneer. Before everybody jumped on the bandwagon it offered a seven-seat SUV option without the ungainliness of a full-on 4×4. Even a few years ago it stood out as a reasonably sized and refined SUV for families with the benefit of those optional extra seats. But models such as the Kodiaq, 5008 and Outlander have joined, and in the Skoda and Peugeot’s cases, overtaken it. There’s nothing fundamentally wrong with it but it’s beginning to feel a little left behind.