'New' turbocharged 1.6-litre petrol engine is entry-level route into the X-Trail range, but is it worth it in this range-topping trim over a diesel alternative?

What is it?

The cheapest yet fastest engine available in the X-Trail range. The 1.6-litre petrol engine has been borrowed from the Qashqai and planted into its larger SUV sibling, and it's now the entry-level way into the line-up.

Prices range from £21,995 for Visia trim and go up to £28,145 for this range-topping Tekna version. All models come with a six-speed manual gearbox, but, unlike with its diesel counterparts, all-wheel drive isn’t available.

Seven-seat petrol crossovers are something of a rarity, so is this 1.6-litre powerplant the answer for those longing for a lower list price yet more performance from their practical SUV?

What's it like?

Contrary to the initial on-paper appeal, it’s a little disappointing. A 1.6-litre petrol engine with 161bhp sounds powerful enough to lug around a sizeable SUV, but on the road it lacks sufficient torque to offer any real pace when accelerating from low revs. 

While the same engine may feel peppy in the Qashqai under hard acceleration, the extra weight of the X-trail takes its toll on the engine. Unless pushed to its limit, the peak torque figure of just 177lb ft – produced between 2000 and 4000rpm – means progress is pretty pedestrian. 

The lack of torque is less of an issue around town, but the spacing of the gear ratios means you’ll find yourself shifting up and down fairly frequently in stop-start traffic.

Out on faster, winding country roads, body roll stops the X-Trail from tackling corners with any real panache, as it lurches through bends while struggling with steep inclines in higher gears. The steering does a good job of feeling light around town but it becomes too weighty at higher speeds.

It's not all bad, though, as the 1.6-litre petrol engine’s refinement scores the X-Trail some bonus points. It’s quieter than the diesel and cruising in sixth gear at motorway speeds produces only a faint hum from the engine. The road and wind noise that creeps into the cabin is entirely tolerable.

It’s composed at those higher speeds, too, with the suspension easily soaking up slight road imperfections to help waft you along, although harsher bumps do send a jolt through the cabin.

It’s a very pleasant interior, especially in this trim. There’s impressive leg room in the back and indeed plenty of space for all passengers in the first and second rows. There’s also a good amount of adjustment available for the driver to find their preferred position, and a well-sized boot for the class.

The X-Trail’s credentials as a seven-seater are less convincing, though. Access to the third row should be left for only the most nimble and svelte passengers to attempt, because the middle row doesn’t move forward far enough to make clambering into the back easy. Those rearmost seats are only really suitable on longer journeys for children, and adults will do well to avoid them for anything other than short trips.

This top-line Tekna trim offers everything you could possibly want, including touchscreen sat-nav, intelligent park assist, high beam assist and leather seats which are electrically adjustable for the driver and front passenger, but a list price close to £30,000 is a little hard to stomach. 

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You’re better off sticking to Acenta trim, because it’s still well equipped and much better value at around £5000 cheaper. Tekna and N-tec also have marginally worse claimed fuel economy than the lesser trims because of the larger wheels.

Should I buy one?

This petrol engine is quieter than the diesel and cheaper to buy outright but ultimately hard to recommend over the diesel due to its inferior performance. Tekna trim is also simply too expensive. 

For the 1.6-litre petrol to make any sense you have to meet some pretty strict parameters. Essentially, if you are a city-based, low-mileage driver that needs plenty of space then it’s worth consideration, but most people will do better investigating the 1.6-litre diesel. 

Nissan X-Trail 1.6 DIG-T 163 Tekna

Location Geneva, Switzerland; On sale Now; Price £28,445; Engine 4 cyls, 1618cc, turbocharged, petrol; Power 161bhp at 5600rpm; Torque 177lb ft at 2000-4000rpm; Gearbox 6-spd manual; Kerb weight 1430kg; Top speed 124mph; 0-62mph 9.7sec Economy 44.1mpg (combined); CO2/tax band 149g/km, 24%

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jer 4 October 2015

Very strange

How renault nissan cannot put out a 180+ hp 2.0 diesel. I know down sizing is all the rage but this is a fairly big car an all. I'm always amazed how the Qash is raved about and the X is pilloried.
The Apprentice 2 October 2015

What this car needs

What this car needs desperately is a more powerful diesel, but keeping emissions to below 130g/km with and without 4WD then it will sell very rapidly. I test drove it and it was a very decent drive, just not enough oomph to live with for me.