What is it?
The UK debut of Nissan’s halo crossover. Anyone who remembers the X-Trail as a bug-eyed box of angles released post-millennium can now put those memories to rest; the third generation marks the model’s transition from niche soft-roader to mainstream range topper.
Its metamorphosis is doubly important because the new car doesn’t just replace the previous X-Trail, but also the seven-seat edition of the Qashqai - Nissan’s formidably popular profit maker.
The walk-up from its smaller predecessor is around £1750 so the company is selling the X-Trail as an upgrade not just in size or versatility, but also status.
A fresh look best embodies that thrust – the car is a proper shoulder barge of SUV chunkiness in the flesh. Seven seats doesn’t seem inconceivable (we’ve tested the five-seater here) although you’ll pay £700 for the option. Likewise, the X-Trail now starts life as a front-wheel-drive model – 4WD is an additional £1700.
There’s also now a proper entry-level option – the Visia – with the same 128bhp 1.6-litre dCi engine that features across the line-up. It costs just £22,995.
However, given the Qashqai’s popularity beneath and the X-Trail’s new positioning, Nissan expects the upper-middle n-Tec spec to get most of the attention.
That’ll set you back £27,295 in standard format, and includes a DAB tuner, power tailgate, front and rear parking sensors, dual-zone climate control and keyless entry and start.
What's it like?
A Qashqai – with bigger, baggier skin. No surprise there, of course - the relationship between the two is considerably closer than before, and the smaller model’s success means Nissan has every reason to encourage reference to its blood ties.
Indeed, the car seems setup, designed and decked out to make the Qashqai owner feel at home. If it hadn’t been for the X-Trail’s existing (and healthy) customer base, one suspects the firm may even have entertained the idea of renaming the car in its sibling’s honour.
As it is, the X-Trail keeps its own badge and makes a more concerted play for justifying its premium. Size is obviously the trump card here; the exact dimensions of the car’s gentle growth spurt are probably less important on the forecourt than the subjective result - from outside and in, it feels markedly less bijou than the Qashqai.
It’s also handily better looking, too, which is convenient for the status upswing Nissan reckons is critical to the X-Trail’s new mainstream placement in the market.
Trim material upgrades are meant to do the same inside, but the effect is perhaps too faint (or the parts bin too liberally raided) for it to seem dramatically different. Practicality wise, it is the boot of the five-seat model that seems usefully bigger on first inspection.
The rear seats are on runners for even more luggage space – or, alternately, maximum legroom which, unlike its sibling, appears usefully generous. Combined with broader width and the helpfully high ceiling, and the suggestion that five adults would fit better here than in the Qashqai seems entirely warranted.