Nissan X-Trail N-TEC

DIG-T 163

Nissan X-Trail, 2016, nose
Nissan X-Trail, 2016, side
Nissan X-Trail, 2016, front, action
Nissan X-Trail, 2016, front, static
Nissan X-Trail, 2016, rear
Nissan X-Trail, 2016, interior

GETTING on for a decade back Nissan announced ambitious plans to launch an entire range of SUV-inspired vehicles and could barely contain its excitement at the prospect.

Back then the notion seemed a slightly bizarre one to me I have to confess.

Sure, there were SUVs a-plenty at the time and they were growing in popularity but most were of the cavernous Chelsea Tractor variety and the notion they might be seriously scaled down and come in a plethora of shapes and sizes seemed an odd one.

After all, we had saloons, estates, hatchbacks, coupes, SUVs, MPVs and more besides - it seemed as if every automotive niche was pretty much occupied.

Wind the clock forward and Nissan has proved to be both the pace-maker and trend-setter when it comes to crossovers.

There's the all-conquering Qashqai - the original crossover - the smaller Juke and above it the X-Trail - all of which are now classified under Nissan's crossover range.

The Japanese car maker doesn't as yet offer the all-encompassing SUV/crossover range it promised - it no longer has its larger Murano and Pathfinder SUVs - but watch this space, I'd imagine its offering is set to expand.

The X-Trail's lifespan predates the Juke and Qashqai and it was originally a fairly standard mid-sized SUV boasting rugged looks and following a boxy design blueprint.

The new version is far more in the stylish crossover mould and given the present marketplace all the better for it.

In some ways it's rather like an enlarged Qashqai, with distinctive contemporary design lines and a more than pleasing profile which should see it win plenty of fans.

The latest X-Trail has also had a pretty modern makeover on the inside with an impressive cabin, extensive layout and imaginative storage solutions.

It offers the customary commanding driving position and is a versatile family vehicle.

Standard models seat five but you can specify an optional seven-seat layout for an additional £1,000.

This car was a seven-seat variant and it was capable of carrying seven in a commendable degree of comfort. As one might expect though boot space is fairly minimal with all seven seats in use.

Standard equipment is fairly generous on all models though this higher-specced N-TEC model has a fair few additional bells and whistles.

The NissanConnect seven-inch touchscreen navigation and entertainment system is particularly good and user-friendly.

Engine choices are simple - either a 1.6-litre turbodiesel or a 1.6-litre turbocharged petrol.

This was the petrol model, which I found to be a worthy challenger to what might generally be the de facto choice of a diesel in a vehicle like this.

It's a surprisingly smooth and potent unit that powered the X-Trail along nicely on a variety of roads and with both light and heavier loads.

The petrol is only available in two-wheel drive but in all honesty the need for a four-wheel drive crossover is debatable - unless you live in the countryside, have particular towing requirements (boats, caravans, horse boxes) or are one of those people for whom driving in the kind of severe snow we might get every four or five years induces a sense of panic.

It returns an impressive 44.1mpg on the combined cycle and seemed to get reasonably close to that in everyday real world driving conditions.

Handling is at the decent end of the crossover scale and I also found the X-Trail exceptionally easy to manoeuvre in tight spaces - and that was without the benefit of parking cameras.

FAST FACTS

Nissan X-Trail N-TEC DIG-T 163

Price: £27,285

Mechanical: 160bhp, 1,618cc, 4cyl petrol engine driving front wheels via 6-speed manual gearbox

Max Speed: 124mph

0-62mph: 9.7 seconds

Combined MPG: 44.1

Insurance Group: 20

C02 emissions: 149g/km

Bik rating: 26%

Warranty: 3yrs/60,000 miles

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