X marks the spot where Nissan started carving out a niche in the MPV market.
The arrival of the Nissan X Trail in 2000 started a new line in the Japanese brand which has seen the Qashqai become one of the most popular MPVs on the UK market and that was followed by the Juke SUV, essentially a derivative of the larger car’s platform which now has its own following.
The Nissan X-Trail today is the third generation and the test car is the most popular derivative and is roughly the mid-range version in the 17-model series based on four trim levels with a choice of 130 diesel or 163 petrol engines, manual or automatic and 2WD or 4WD.
The comparatively modest power developed is fine when the X-Trail is lightly loaded but add a few people or luggage and you soon realize it has to work hard, and uneconomically.
Although smooth and free-revving, the four-cylinder engine is not quiet, the clutch is progressive and the six-speed box is well defined and direct but a little clunky in operation as well.
That contrasts with the silky smooth steering and its good turning circle, lack of vibration and progressive assistance. Underfoot, the brakes needed only light pressure to effect rapid deceleration and the parking brake worked well on the slope we use.
Secondary controls are grouped on the wheel-spokes or fascia in most cases with some on the central console as well and they are of a sensible size and had good feel to the touch.
Instruments are big and clear, well marked and lit at night while the heating and ventilation was straightforward and worked well to fill the big cabin with desired air at any level and selected temperature.
There was a big sunroof on the test car and it did not open quickly or quietly unlike the powered windows all round.
Oddments room is very good for a family car infront or back with door bins, console trays and recesses together with a good sized glovebox and in the loadspace area you have additional storage spade under the floor behind the third row of seats, but their presence limits what can he carried in the back.
The two optional back seats are really for children with difficult access and little legroom but they are well padded. Getting into the usual rear sears was easy and it was roomy and the front pair have good adjustment range and support as well.
Visibility is very good through the windows and when reversing thanks to a clever sensors and camera system which is confidence building, and the wipers and lights are good for bad weather as well.
The Nissan X-Trail rides well if noisily over bad surfaces. It soaks up most shocks and only the worst get through. It’s quite insulating in fact with little roll or pitching and while it’s not an SUV but really an MPV crossover, its handling is safe and surefooted with no real vices.
With the 1.6 litre engine it struggles to get going from rest and you have to work it hard through the gearbox to make progress and this is reflected in the economy. We saw under 35mpg overall with a best approaching 38mpg on a long run, but that is not brilliant in today’s economy orientated market.
I think the real strength of the Nissan X-Trails is that it does a lot very well for a family car, nothing outstanding, but it does make its mark in the market and is really versatile so meets the needs of many families.
|Nissan X-Trail N-Tec 163 2WD||Price: £26,735 (£28,285 with metallic paint and additional two rear seats)|
|Insurance group: 20E||Mechanical: 163ps 4-cyl 1618cc turbo-petrol, 6sp manual|
|Max: 124 mph||0-62mph: 9.7 sec|
|Fuel consumption: 34.7 mpg||CO2 emissions: 149 gkm|
|BIK: 26%||Warranty: 3yr/ 60,000 miles|
For: Versatile, easy to drive, roomy for most journeys, good boot space when rear seats not used, modest emissions
Against: Performance, economy, noisy.