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 Sports SUVs

First drives

Find an Autocar car review

Driven this week

  • Car review
    9 December 2016
    Audi Sport drops a sub-4.0sec-to-60mph bomb into Porsche Cayman territory
  • First Drive
    9 December 2016
    Plug-in-hybrid 3 Series shows the benefit of BMW's experience with the i3 and i8. Sophisticated, swift and broadly talented to drive – and sweet-handing, too
  • Car review
    9 December 2016
    Italian brand emerges as a true luxury power with a large SUV
  • 2016 Porsche Panamera Turbo
    First Drive
    8 December 2016
    A smaller engine doesn't prevent the new Porsche Panamera Turbo being a ridiculously quick and capable sporting GT. We've driven it in the UK
  • 2016 Vauxhall Adam 1.0i Turbo Unlimited
    First Drive
    8 December 2016
    The 1.0-litre turbo engine and Unlimited trim combine to make this the best Adam in the line-up