Nissan X-Trail dCi

130 n-tec

Nissan X-Trail, 65 plate, side
Nissan X-Trail, 65 plate, front, action
Nissan X-Trail, 65 plate, front
Nissan X-Trail, 65 plate, rear
Nissan X-Trail, boot
Nissan X-Trail, interior

COMBINING the sleek and stylish lines of a modern crossover with the robust appeal of a typical SUV, the third-generation X-Trail is a marked departure from its boxy-looking predecessor.

Longer, wider, and taller, and with a longer wheelbase, it delivers much more room inside. It's also lighter and therefore more efficient.

It might have borrowed and even enhanced the Qashqai's curvaceous styling but the beauty of the X-Trail is not just skin deep. It's certainly one of the most practical SUVs on sale and has absolutely masses of room for passengers.

While it might not be the most dynamic of vehicles to drive, it's cleverly designed, well-made, packed with equipment - especially on higher grade models like the n-tec driven here.

A more powerful 2.0-litre diesel is about to land on these shores but two 1.6-litre engines - one petrol, one diesel - are also available. If your X-Trail's main job will be pootling around the highways and byways of the UK without going off-road or towing huge loads, each are perfectly capable beasts.

Those who do a lot of mileage will find the 1.6-litre turbodiesel with its 128bhp and 320Nm of torque - available from just 1,750rpm - extremely amenable.

Front-wheel drive comes as standard on the 1.6-litre models but fans of diesel power can also opt for four-wheel drive with any of the four trim levels - Visia, Acenta, n-tec or top-of-the-range Tekna.

A six-speed manual is standard but you can also specify your diesel 4WD X-Trail with an Xtronic CVT auto transmission.

All trim levels feature aircon, alloy wheels and six airbags, LED daytime running lights, five-inch colour touchscreen display, Bluetooth, cruise control and speed limiter, and hill start assist.

N-tec models comes with NissanConnect - seven-inch touch-screen navigation and entertainment system - colour front, rear and side cameras, DAB digital radio and 19-inch alloys.

N-tec versions also feature safety systems such as Forward Emergency Braking, Lane Departure Warning and Traffic Signal Recognition.

Range-topping Tekna models add even more goodies to its box of tricks including leather seats, electrically-adjustable driver's seat, front and rear parking sensors and keyless entry.

Inside, the layout is almost identical to the Qashqai's, noticeably well-finished with plenty of quality soft-touch materials, and a wonderfully intuitive dashboard. The dials are clear and easy to understand, the various buttons and knobs are all logically set out. It's a driver's dream.

The sheer size of the X-trail means it's one of the biggest cars in the medium-sized SUV class. There's ample legroom for five adults. The rows of seating are arranged in a tiered theatre-style system, where every row sits a little higher than the one in front, for better visibility. There's still plenty of headroom, though.

Helpfully, the rear doors open outward to more than 80 degrees, improving access for passengers and for fixing child seats. When seven seats are fitted, the middle row slides forwards and back to make more space for the extra passengers or for luggage.

The optional third row seats can be folded completely flat, but they are a pricey £1,000 option and really only for children, especially over longer distances.

Befitting the size of the car, the X-Trail has a spacious boot offering 550 litres of cargo space with the seats up. Fold everything flat and there's a van-like 1,982 litres.

For extra versatility, a smart and innovative double load floor which Nissan says provides up to nine different configurations - I didn't get round to trying them all! This split cargo solution enables the user to store, for example, a stroller and large items below while creating a fully usable upper load surface for smaller, lighter items.

As Nissan plans to offer a fully driverless car by 2020, the latest X-Trail already benefits from improving safety technology.

Active Ride Control monitors the road surface to detect dips and bumps which could upset the pitch of the car body and alters the damping to compensate.

Particularly clever is Active Trace Control. By using on board sensors to monitor speed, steering angle, throttle opening and braking effort, it brakes wheels individually, as required, to reduce understeer and help the driver steer a safer path through bends. Put simply, it adjusts your line through a corner if it senses you're going to run wide.

However, because of its height, the X-trail still does lean a little in the corners if going a little speedily. It's not what you'd call nimble. But that's being unfair. It is simply effortless to drive, especially for its size and the ride height is always appreciated.

FAST FACTS

Nissan X-Trail dCi 130 n-tec

Price: £28,325

Mechanical: 128bhp, 1598cc, four-cylinder diesel engine driving the front wheels through a six-speed manual gearbox

Max Speed: 117mph

0-62mph: 10.5 seconds

Combined MPG: 57.6

Insurance Group: 17

C02 emissions: 129g/km

Bik rating: 25%

Warranty: 3yrs/60,000 miles

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