Nissan X-Trail N

Connecta dCi130 4WD

Nissan X-Trail, front
Nissan X-Trail, front
Nissan X-Trail Platinum Edition SV
Nissan X-Trail, front
Nissan X-Trail, front seats
Nissan X-Trail, rear seats
Nissan X-Trail, boot
Nissan X-Trail, third row seats
Nissan X-Trail, front

SO you need a people carrier, but you aren't too keen on their worthy, taxi-like image.

What's more, the upright, boxy looks don't grab you.

But the latest crop of SUVs have an altogether different identity - macho, purposeful...and even a bit sexy.

Rather than abandon your family or risk divorce a seven-seater crossover or SUV could help solve the dilemma.

It's not even necessary to have four-wheel-drive. After all, few people carriers would have it, and are rarely required to go off-road.

The really large models like the Land Rover Discovery, Audi Q7 and BMW X5 have had three rows of seats for ages but they are expensive.

Now a growing number of mid-size SUVs, such as the Nissan X-Trail are so equipped, allowing families to have extra accommodation for around the same price as an MPV.

Ideal for the school run during the week and country outing at the weekend.

Looking rather like a Qashqai on steroids, the X-Trail is currently Nissan's flagship and shares much of running gear and engine choices with its little brother.

The version we drove was the N Connecta with four-wheel-drive and 128bhp, 1.6-litre diesel engine bearing a price tag of just under £32,000.

Despite being the lower trim level, equipment is lavish and packs in roof rails, opening panoramic sunroof, dual zone air con, electric tailgate lift, 18-inch alloy wheels and sat nav touch screen.

Cabin space is huge with comfortable room for five on board plus a 565 litre boot which grows to almost 2,000 litres when the back seats are folded down.

The passenger environment is comfortable and well thought out with decent grade plastic mouldings and an easy-to-live with fascia, loads of storage room and logically placed controls.

The final row of seats is obviously smaller and probably best for youngsters who are nimble enough to clamber in and out.

Don't expect fireworks from the 1.6-litre diesel engine which is coupled to a six-speed manual gearbox. A CVT automatic transmission is an option.

Nevertheless with 62mph coming up in around 11 seconds and a 115mph max, the X-Trail is about on a par with most rivals. Mid range torque is good and makes the car feel livelier than the statistics suggest.

Over most surfaces it rides well with good bump absorbtion and acceptable levels of cornering roll. The Mazda CX-5 and Peugeot 5008 are more responsive and communicative but levels of comfort are similar.

Its all-wheel drive system copes well with gentle adventures into the agriculture such as muddy fields or steep bankings and the hill-start assist feature is useful, but don't expect it to emulate a mountain goat or a Defender.

Considering its generous size and the relatively small engine, the X-Trail proves pleasantly light on fuel use. Most owners will match our own average of 38mpg which tallies with an official combined figure of 52.3mpg. Front-drive versions are still more frugal.

FAST FACTS

Nissan X-Trail N Connecta dCi130 4WD

Price: £31,710

Mechanical:128bhp, 1,598cc, 4cyl diesel engine driving four wheels via 6-speed manualgearbox

Max Speed: 117mph

0-62mph: 11 seconds

Combined MPG: 52.3

Insurance Group: 17

C02 emissions: 143g/km

Bik rating: 36%

Warranty: 3yrs/60,000 miles

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