The original Nissan X-Trail was launched in 2001. Now, over a decade on, Nissan is keen to point to that car as being a key player in the genesis of the current crossover breed.

Truthfully, however, the right-angled 4x4 – with its all-wheel-drive-only identity and utilitarian attitude – had as much to do with the traditional SUV as it did with any fast-approaching marketing concept

The first X-Trail’s primary qualification as a crossover rather than a pure SUV is likely its platform, which was shared with conventional models such as the front-drive Primera and Almera.

That MS architecture carried the model through to 2007, when it was replaced by the second-generation car built on the C platform co-developed with Renault. Prior to the current nameplate, Nissan had marketed a small 4x4 SUV dubbed the Rasheen, which was sold exclusively in Japan from 1994 to 2000.

Cut to 2014 and the new X-Trail’s connection to the kind of soft-roader being conceived at the end of the last century hangs by a thread. Sharing much with the all-conquering Qashqai, the car is instead intended to fill out Nissan’s crossover range and sit triumphantly at the summit of the C-SUV segment.

To do this, the firm has fitted curves, economy and more kit, and, at the entry level, jettisoned four-wheel drive entirely.

The X-Trail’s principal flexibility is now to do with its size. Designed from the ground up to accommodate seven seats, the model replaces not only its predecessor but also the Qashqai+2 – which should tell you everything you need to know about how important Nissan considers its new offering to be.

Top 5 Compact SUVs

  • A huge improvement over the old model and now among the class leaders

    BMW X3

    1
  • The new Land Rover Discovery Sport is the successor to the Freelander

    Land Rover Discovery Sport

    2
  • The Swede's XC60 compact SUV is a rival for Range Rover's Evoque

    Volvo XC60

    3
  • The Q5 is Audi's response to the Land Rover Freelander 2, BMW X3 and Volvo SC60

    Audi Q5

    4
  • Kia's seven-seat Sorento SUV is now in its third generation

    Kia Sorento

    5

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