From £23,1308
It might not be the sportiest SUV around, but this third-generation X-Trail is a decent alternative to premium German rivals

What is it?

This is the third-generation Nissan X-Trail, which has the mission to replace both the old model and also the Qashqai+2.

Its made on the same CMF platform as the new Qashqai and features similar styling, although not one single exterior panel is the same. It’s only when you stand next to it that you realise how much bigger the X-Trail is than the Qashqai. An extra 105mm in height and 268mm in length put it in a different segment and close to SUVs such as the Mitsubishi Outlander or Kia Sorento.

The previous model’s squared-off styling has given way to much sleeker lines, with Nissan claiming that this new model is more of a crossover and less of a classic SUV.

It’s available with five or, as a £700 option, seven seats, a six-speed manual gearbox as standard or a £1350 XTronic CVT and comes in either front or, for a £1700 premium, four-wheel drive.

There are four trim levels: Visia, Acenta, n-tec and Tekna, with prices ranging from £22,995 for a 2WD, five-seat Visia to £31,695 for a range-topping 4WD Tekna with seven seats. At launch, the only available engine is the Renault-Nissan Alliance's 128bhp 1.6-litre dCi. A 1.6 DIG-T petrol version with 161bhp will be launched next year.

What's it like?

We drove a  £29,995 front-wheel-drive seven-seat Tekna trim model, which comes comprehensively equipped with every available X-Trail extra.

However, an n-tec version would be enough for most, if auto parking, heated seats and driving aids like blind spot warning, driver attention alert and moving object detection aren't priorities. You would still get 19-inch alloys, NissanConnect with smartphone connectivity and some Google features, a DAB tuner and emergency braking.

Get in the driver’s seat and you're faced with a typical Japanese dashboard, some out-of-reach buttons and a seven-inch touchscreen minus a rotary knob. There’s also a smaller TFT monitor in the instrument cluster, featuring a comprehensive on-board computer which is operated via the steering wheel.

Put the diesel engine to work and its muted sound is distant enough, with very few vibrations intruding into the cabin. It will pull nicely from 1600rpm, revealing that the X-Trail-specific gear ratios have been well chosen. City driving shows that this is not a small car, but the relatively tall driving position helps a lot while the steering assistance is well judged is good and the gearbox action is fast and sweet. On the motorway and it feels planted and stable, with the only real noise intrusion coming from the new opening panoramic 'monoroof'.

A short drive through a dry, rocky incline reveals that the Goodyear EfficientGrip tyres and 210mm of ground clearance render the X-Trail pretty capable off-road. Twisty B-roads, however, show that this is not an SUV that harbours dreams of lapping the Nürburgring at any real speed. It leans in corners and the stability control is quick to take care of things when pushed.

The ESP can be disconnected, however, and keen drivers willing to throw the car around will find that it never gets too much out of shape. 

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That said, you soon learn that the X-Trail is better suited to more sedate driving, and your six passengers will doubtless thank you for it. They have a very refined cabin in which to travel, with excellent kneeroom in the sliding middle row, although back row passengers will find it a bit harder to get comfortable. 

Should I buy one?

If you’re in the market for a medium-size crossover with quality interior, a fair amount of room and seven seats, the X-Trail is one of the best on offer.

When you add to this a long list of driving aids, foolproof on-road manners, some off-road capability and competitive pricing, you may find yourself asking why should you pay extra money for a German premium SUV of similar size.

But if sporty dynamics are your thing, maybe you should look elsewhere.

Francisco Mota

Nissan X-Trail 1.6 dCi 130 7 seat 2WD Tekna

Price £29,995; 0-62mph 10.5sec; Top speed 118mph; Economy 57.6 mpg; CO2 129g/km; Kerb weight 1500kg; Engine 4 cyls, 1598cc, turbocharged, diesel; Power 129bhp at 4000rpm; Torque 236lb ft at 1750 rpm; Gearbox 6-speed manual

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dukebox9reg 13 May 2014

Is this basically the

Is this basically the American Nissan Rogue? They get stuck with a weezy 170bhp/175lbft (240NM) 2.5 petrol.

Just wish they offered it in a decent 2.0 diesel. 150-170bhp/280-300lbft would do me. Oh and a proper auto.