This X-Trail is based on a platform shared with the capable Qashqai and uses the same MacPherson strut front suspension and rear multi-link set-up. Both ends are connected to the body by a rubber-insulated subframe to try and isolate the cabin from the workings below. Nissan has thrown its engineering weight behind the four-wheel drive system on the X-Trail, which sees electronic safety and control measures combined with the transmission under the title All-Mode 4x4i.
Although this tag might conjure up visions of old hot Fords, it means the system can react – and even predict – how to distribute the torque between the axles. From behind the wheel, progress is initially not as fleet you might expect. There’s noticeable squat and dive and a fair degree of body roll, even at modest speeds.
But the X-Trail is not ungainly. With light but pleasingly incisive steering and a nicely poised chassis, it's pleasantly biddable in everyday traffic. And unlike the old car, which Nissan advised owners to stick in 2wd mode for everyday running, new technology means ‘auto’ is now the default setting – the system working out when front-wheel drive is best for economy and when drive needs to be sent to the rear for increased traction.
A relaxing primary ride is impressive over long journeys, the soft gait smoothing over undulations with ease. The way the chassis handles individual intrusions is slightly less impressive, but for the most part it is only the noise that penetrates up into the cabin rather than an actual jolt. Tremors through the seats are about as bad as it gets.