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.
That they would be more cosseted or carried any quicker, is more dubious. The larger proportions means there’s additional bonnet length to worry about, and obviously more car behind you in the rear view mirror too; rather promptly then, the X-Trail feels slightly more ‘SUV’ to drive.
That isn’t an entirely unwelcome – especially given the nameplate’s provenance – but it does mean that Nissan’s attempts to transplant the Qashqai’s benign-yet-pleasant handling into its larger host are, by degrees, somewhat less triumphant.
Light control surfaces (clutch engagement and steering wheel input require practically no effort) prevent the X-Trail from feeling needlessly hefty, and while no match for a Ford Kuga, its turn-in is chipper enough too. But the car is obviously less limber at the dampers; the latest Qashqai’s ability to go quasi-Land Rover at the sight of a broken road isn’t much in evidence.
Instead, on 19-inch wheels, the big Nissan emulates the segment standard: consenting enough over pockmarks, then noisily stiff-legged when things get tough.
Still, even on UK roads it’s a sporadic trait rather than incessant tragedy. The 1.6-litre dCI bears up under the burden in similar fashion. It doesn’t have the length of stride meted out by its rivals bigger capacity engines, and consequently cannot be stroked along in the same mellow, big-twist fashion.
There’s a tendency, via the X-Trail’s tall gearstick, to snatch at the lower gears and rev determinedly away from the motor’s listlessness below 1750rpm. Such behaviour won’t render the 57.8mpg claimed by Nissan, but it makes the sub 11 second 0-62mph time believable, and progress briskly convenient.