From £22,6007
New 2.0-litre diesel will please those after an X-Trail with more pulling power, but the consequently worse fuel economy makes it hard to recommend

Our Verdict

Nissan X-Trail

Can a better-mannered Nissan X-Trail challenge others vying to gain traction in the soft-road market - including the Hyundai Santa Fe, Kia Sorento and the Ford Kuga?

Darren Moss
1 December 2016

What is it?

In a market where a growing crowd is making it getting increasingly difficult to stand out, the Nissan X-Trail makes a good case for itself. It's a comfortable and practical large SUV, and a common sight on UK roads.

It has a problem, though. Nissan has until now only given buyers one diesel engine choice in the X-Trail, a 128bhp 1.6-litre unit, and while its competitive in terms of fuel economy and CO2 emissions, it isn't particularly quick. It's a compromised package, and drivers seeking a stronger X-Trail have long been praying for Nissan to give the car a larger, more powerful diesel motor.

Well, those prayers have been answered, because now there's a larger 175bhp 2.0-litre diesel on offer. Nissan expects this engine to account for a quarter of X-Trail sales in the UK from now on, so it’s an important addition for the brand.

What's it like?

Fuel economy and CO2 emissions have been a big draw for X-Trail buyers so far, because while the existing 1.6 diesel isn't as powerful as the big units found in most rivals, it is cleaner and more efficient. With this more powerful version, official fuel economy has dropped to 50.5mpg, while CO2 emissions stand at 149g/km - although we averaged a more realistically achievable 38.1mpg on our fairly calm test drive.

There's certainly more low-end pulling power, but it runs out of puff higher up the rev range and similar diesels in rivals such as the Mazda CX-5 or Hyundai Santa Fe are more flexible still. Still, although the extra power will no doubt please some buyers, many of the X-Trail's niggles persist - the engine is still very vocal and sends lots of noise and vibration inside under load.

There is a slightly better throttle response with this engine, though, and it combines well with the standard six-speed manual transmission. A CVT automatic gearbox is also available, marking the first time you can get a four-wheel drive X-Trail with an automatic, something Nissan says buyers have also been asking for, but it's not easy to recommend. It is quieter than many other CVTs, and if you’re planning on spending most of your time in the city then it could make sense, but on the motorway the elastic-band nature of the power delivery grates.

Our X-Trail's four-wheel drive system provides good traction over loose surfaces, but in reality you're unlikely to need the system very often in the UK unless you plan on climbing mountains or fording streams on the weekends. If you do choose the four-wheel-drive model, then the added low-end torque of this 2.0-litre engine seems like a good fit. Frankly, though, we'd be tempted to save money and stick with a front-wheel drive model. 

Elsewhere, as you might expect, this new X-Trail variant is very much the same as the existing car. The ride is comfortable over most surfaces, and while the handling isn’t set up to provide engagement, it's reassuringly surefooted. The interior, too, while not revolutionary, has all the ergonomic benefits of the big-selling Qashqai.

Should I buy one?

There’s the hit in fuel economy and CO2 to consider here, because even with a manual gearbox the new 2.0-litre engine falls some way short of the existing 1.6-litre diesel’s 57.6mpg and 129g/km figures. Under the current road tax system, you’ll pay £35 more per year for the 2.0-litre X-Trail, as well as spending more time and money at the fuel pumps.

It's also worth noting this X-Trail's pricing, which at £33,760 is more expensive than similar versions of the CX-5 and Santa Fe. Nissan only offers the 2.0-litre engine on Acenta trim and above, so entry-level Visia models miss out. The price leap is fairly substantial: a 2.0-litre-engined Acenta X-Trail costs £1250 more than if you stick with the 1.6-litre unit.

That said, if you’re one of the existing X-Trail owners who’ve been looking for a more powerful version of the car, then you’ll be largely happy with this result. Likewise, if you’re used to the similarly sized engines in other large SUVs, then buying an X-Trail will no longer feel like such a backward step.

It’s good news if you plan on towing, too, because the towing capacity of this X-Trail has been raised by 150kg to 1650kg if you opt for the CVT transmission. Otherwise, manual versions remain at 2000kg - and it’s worth remembering that the Santa Fe will tow 2500kg.

Ultimately, we’d stick with the current 1.6-litre engine, because while it’s a little slower than rivals, it’s not really noticeable under everyday conditions, and the extra fuel efficiency is a welcome bonus.

Nissan X-Trail 2.0 Tekna 4WD

Location Switzerland; On sale January; Price £33,760; 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 Kuga, Mazda CX-5, Hyundai Santa Fe

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Comments
5

jer

1 December 2016
How can such as refined car in class as the Qashquai turn into such a mut by making it a bit bigger.

1 December 2016
'If you're planning on spending most of your time in the city'... buy a different car, and stop inflicting this diesel SUV nonsense on the rest of us.

4 December 2016
scrap wrote:

'If you're planning on spending most of your time in the city'... buy a different car, and stop inflicting this diesel SUV nonsense on the rest of us.

All these jeeps are just automotive pitbulls, a freakish offshoot of something lovable and useful.

I don't need to put my name here, it's on the left

 

1 December 2016
Given the high numbers of CVT failures on recent Nissan's, I'd be very wary.

Teaming up with Renault has done Nissan no favours at all, used to be good reliable cars. The CVT in the Primera was brilliant, and a friend still drives one today without problem. But the current Juke/Micra/Cashcow sees failures in as little as 30000 miles.

It seems difficult to see why manufacturers throw away their good name.

2 December 2016
I had one of these as a rental car earlier this year. Petrol, of course, we've got more sense here.
Entirely satisfactory, it was. Like my fridge. And about as interesting. But if you will breed large families and must haul them around together, get one of these.
Extremely satisfactory.
Robbo

Aussie Rob - a view from down under

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