Customer requests for a 2.0-litre diesel X-Trail are answered; it’s punchier than the 1.6-litre, but no more refined

What is it?

Since its introduction in 2014, the current generation Nissan X-Trail has become a familiar sight on UK roads. With seating for seven, tidy handling and low running costs, it seemed like it covered all the bases for prospective buyers.

But on listening to customer feedback, Nissan learned that buyers wanted more. Specifically, they wanted a bigger engine for improved flexibility and a less stressful towing experience. That leads us to the new X-Trail 2.0 dCi with a much healthier 175bhp and 280lb ft, up 47bhp and 44Ib ft on the 1.6-litre diesel.

The new engine also brings the option of an automatic-gearboxed four-wheel-drive variant for the first time. Named Xtronic, this is a CVT ‘box that is also the only option if you want a front-wheel-drive 2.0-litre. If you’d rather shift yourself, you can have the four-wheel-drive manual model we’re testing here.

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What's it like?

There may be a new engine under the X-Trail’s heavily sculpted bonnet, but there are no signs from the outside to let anyone know. There’s still one hidden tail-pipe at the back, no badging related to the motor’s capacity and the same range of alloy wheels. While that’s fine by us, we suspect a good few owners would welcome some differentiation.

Fire up the 2.0-litre lump and any hopes that it would be more refined than the rather raucous 1.6-litre unit are dashed. It’s by no means the worst for refinement in the class, but there are a few vibrations through the pedals at idle and a coarse engine note that gets particularly intrusive when you’re working the motor hard.

The engine will pull cleanly from around 1200rpm, but you really need to get up to at least 1800rpm before it pulls with any conviction. Keep the revs up and it’s usefully quicker than the 1.6 and would certainly be better for towing. That said, the Volkswagen Group's 2.0-litre TDI unit comes on song lower in the rev range and is more refined.

The Nissan X-Trail handles much the same as before, with not much body roll, adequate levels of grip and a safe, secure balance. It doesn't excite, but the steering is well weighted and allows you to precisely place the nose of the car. It also tracks straight at speed with little correction needed to keep it in lane.

Venture off-road and you’ll find decent traction that can be boosted by locking the system into a 50/50 split front-to-rear. Even left to its own devices, the variable split deals with fairly muddy ground and dirt roads without issue. However, if you regularly drive over heavily rutted ground, we’d look elsewhere, because of the Nissan X-Trail's shortage of axle articulation and ground clearance. In other words, it’s not really much different to the vast majority of the competition.

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Ride comfort is for the most part good, with the edge taken off all but the roughest of roads. That said, you do feel road imperfections more than you might expect given the lofty ride height. Thank the relatively stiff springing needed to keep the body upright for that.

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The X-Trail's interior will be very familiar to anyone trading up from the smaller Nissan Qashqai, with much of the two cars' architecture being shared. While that does mean you get plenty of soft-touch plastics in areas you’ll touch regularly, you might hope that there would be a bit more difference to show where your extra money went.

Look lower down the dashboard and harder plastics are to be found, but these are cleanly moulded and don't have any sharp edges. In the centre of the dashboard is either a 5.0in touchscreen on Acenta models (the lowest trim available with the 2.0-litre engine) or a 7.0in unit that adds a DAB radio, sat-nav and a 360deg parking camera.

Our test car had the larger screen. It's responsive and easy to navigate thanks to shortcut buttons around its edges. The screen's resolution is sharp enough, but the systems in the Kia Sorento and Skoda Kodiaq are more attractive. Dotted around the X-Trail's interior are various cubbyholes and storage areas which, combined with large doorbins, would swallow a family’s clutter with ease.

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The middle row of seats is certainly more commodious than that of the smaller Nissan Qashqai, and will easily take a pair of reasonably tall adults. The optional third-row seats are best left for short journeys, particularly small adults or children, though. With five seats in place, the X-Trail's boot is commendably large, although this does shrink greatly once the third-row seats are erected.

Should I buy one?

If you’ve got your heart set on an Nissan X-Trail, we’d still suggest that the 1.6 dCi is the engine that will work best for most people. Lower CO2 emissions and better fuel economy will please the pockets of private and business owners, and it’s about £1700 cheaper to buy than the 2.0 dCi.

The 1.6 may be noticeably weaker, but if you’re rarely loading the car to the roof or towing something, it copes just fine. Even so, we’d still recommend looking at the Skoda Kodiaq if you’ve got around £30,000 to spend on a seven-seat SUV.

2017 Nissan X-Trail 2.0 dCi 177 4WD N-Vision

Location East Sussex; On sale Now; Price £32,480; Engine 1995cc, four-cylinder, diesel; Power 175bhp at 3750rpm; Torque 280lb ft at 2000rpm; Gearbox 6-speed manual; Kerb weight 1675kg; 0-62mph 9.4sec; Top speed 127mph; Economy 50.5mpg; CO2/tax band 149g/km, 29% Rivals Ford KugaSkoda KodiaqHyundai Santa Fe

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smokescreen38 27 April 2017

X-trail 2.0

I think if your doing a lot of towing, you'd probably just as well going for a Navara.
Jimbbobw1977 26 April 2017

Other brands of 2.0 diesels

Other brands of 2.0 diesels for comparison are also available other than VAG.....
The Apprentice 26 April 2017

I test drove one a couple of

I test drove one a couple of years back and the 1.6 doesn't do a bad job to be fair (I wondered if the official power figure is a bit conservative and its more like 140bhp if put on a dyno), the car just felt a bit strange from the inside, like a smaller car (a Qashqai) encased in a larger pastry shell like a sort of automotive Beef Wellington. It went OK, it rode OK, it steered OK, you get the idea, it just didn't do anything outstandingly. Why I chose the Outlander PHEV, it felt substantially quicker, had much the same room and toys, drove about the same but costs me less than half the company car tax.