Big Nissan 4x4

Nissan X-Trail, front
Nissan X-Trail, off road static 2
Nissan X-Trail, side
Nissan X-Trail, rear action
Nissan X-Trail, front seats
Nissan X-Trail, boot

WE all need eyes in the back of our heads on the road these days.

Take the idiot in a BMW 3-Series the other day, who would have sideswiped the Nissan X-Trail I was driving had it not been for my quick avoiding action and a blast on the very loud horn.

He was in the outside lane of an urban dual carriageway, and decided - without engaging his brain - to move to the inside lane without looking to see if anything was there.

That's one very good reason for driving a large, high 4x4 in a city environment. Fools soon realize they're going to come off much worse if they try to play ‘chicken'.

The X-Trail is big brother to the all-conquering Qashqai and looks very much the same, but is larger in every direction and available with two small extra seats in the boot.

I drove the 2.0-litre turbo diesel five seater, with about 175bhp under the bonnet, driving all four wheels through a six-speed manual gearbox.

This engine can be quite gruff at times, but that kind of power is quite enough for good performance from almost any speed and gives plenty of grunt for overtaking, given the requisite gap in oncoming traffic.

It will pull happily and smoothly from low revs in high gears, helping towards a real fuel economy figure of 40mpg, which has to be excellent for such a large vehicle.

The gearchange is quite chunky but never difficult, the clutch is light and easy and there's a very good left footrest.

In the latest vein of 4x4's, drive is to the front wheels most of the time and the rears come into play automatically when electronics sense a loss of traction.

The drive selector has three settings, two wheel drive (2WD), automatic four wheel drive (4WD) and finally a lock to give full time 4WD.

However, it is not capable of serious off-road goings-on because the ground clearance is fairly low.

That said, it would make a marvellous towcar for the heaviest of caravans or a horse box.

A very good touch I liked immensely was the electric parking brake, which can be set to come on automatically when the car comes to a halt and go off again when the accelerator is pressed.

There's a fair amount of body roll through the corners as you would expect, but there is a reasonable amount of response from the steering and a very good level of grip.

Comfort is one of the X-Trail's strong points. It soaks up the worst of road surfaces with ease and the excellent seats help tremendously.

I drove the N-Connecta towards the top of the range, which comes very well equipped straight out of the box.

FAST FACTS

Price: £32,460

Mechanical: 177bhp, 1,995cc, 4cyl diesel engine driving four wheels via 6-speed manual gearbox

Max Speed: 127mph

0-62mph: 9.4 seconds

Combined MPG: 48

Insurance Group: 21

C02 emissions: 153g/km

Bik rating: 35%

Warranty: 3yrs/60,000 miles

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