Two-litre X-Trail

adds flexibility to


Nissan X-Trail Platinum Edition SV
Nissan X-Trail, front
Nissan X-Trail, front
Nissan X-Trail, front
Nissan X-Trail, rear action
Nissan X-Trail, front seats

DURING the heatwave a popular commentator was speculating why pictures of the 1976 scorcher showpeople much slimmer than those walrussing all over Brighton beach this summer.

He concluded the reason was junk food.

It seems, now that we take hamburgers and sweeties subcutaneously in our sleep, we not only are guilty of pleasure but also of breaking the big scales in Woolworths.

I was there in '76 and the reason holiday makers were considerably thinner was they were skint.

Just look at the cars.

In 1976 your average likely lad aspired to a dormer house with a mortgage to rival the national debt of St Kitts and Nevis and a Vauxhall Viva with a black vinyl roof.

The rest of us were much lower down the scale.

My first car was an Escort van with windows cut in the side. It looked like a hearse for someone who had died on the hot wash cycle.

The day I passed my test I drove it to Cornwall. Near Birmingham we touched 70mph and it was immediately sick.

Today the demand is for an SUV and four bedrooms. Not in the SUV, obviously.

But these, too, have grown to represent a broader spectrum of wealth.

Sorry, fun police, but we are largely more comfortable. Even the NHS is improved. In 1976 you were better off visiting a dog track vet.

Bringing us to today's lavish lunch, the Nissan X-Trail, a car which has long since ceased to be a functional rough-rider in favour of luxury befitting our improved circumstances.

This particular social improvement was the two-litre diesel 175bhp four-wheel-drive (4WD) automatic Tekna.

If I told you the only options on this car to take it to £38,815 were an extra two seats you would be correct to conclude that it is both a million miles from the original Pony Cluboff-roader and lavishly equipped.

Here is a brief comparison: original X-Trail; steering wheel and upholstery, rugged ride.

Latest model: refined drive, auto everything, intelligent parking, hands free tailgate opening and a raft of safety kit including emergency braking and an all-round view monitor, cross traffic alert. You get the idea.

Clearly with leather upholstery and electric driver's seat this puts the current model up there with the quality SUVs and obviously this means it has the full electronics package with navigation and touch screen.

So, there are the niceties but what was so attractive about the early versions was that at a time when any 4x4 which was not the size of three London buses was sneered at it did the business.

Nissan had its own beast, the Patrol, which came in several colours but was especially popular in UN pale blue.

The car came before the summer of lovely weather so all the usual tracks and woodland were still sticky. If I owned one, as is my usual standpoint, I would sacrifice road manners for an ugly set of tyres.

You can manually lock the system 50-50 but there is hardly Alpine levels of ground clearance.

As it was blushes were spared and over the longer haul, motorway especially, it was comfortable and quiet.

The 2.0-litre engine brings with it a less stressful towing experience and pushed it handles well enough.

Economy is said to average 46mpg but I had to knock a few bob off that.

However with intelligent all-wheel drive and a 10 seconds to 62mpg acceleration time you are not exactly being short changed given the quality finish and high-spec.

It's practical, too, with 445-litres of boot if you keep the third row of seats up, which I bet you wouldn't meaning for most purposes it has great capacity.

Today we have more of everything. Better food, cars warp factors removed from the 70s, improved incomes reflected in a little extra personal upholstery. The only thing we cannot guarantee is better summers.


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