From £22,6007
This overhaul has given the X-Trail a new lease of life, especially inside - but more hush would have been welcome

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?

What is it?

The Nissan X-Trail is the world’s best-selling SUV, according to Nissan. A remarkable 750,000 examples of the X-Trail (badged Rogue in some overseas markets) found owners in 2016.

This family crossover also finds itself right in the UK new car market's sweet spot. According to the number-crunchers at JATO Dynamics, in the first half of 2017 the UK SUV segment accounted for 31.1% of new car sales. That’s a meaty 435,971 sales and way ahead of the supermini sector (20.2% and 282,500 sales) or the hatchback sector (20% and 280,995 sales).

Now is clearly a good time for the third-generation X-Trail, initially launched in 2014, to be refreshed. This isn't a massive makeover, with much of the effort going into updating the exterior, making the interior feel more upmarket and adding more electronic gadgetry.

On the outside, the nose has been remodelled - it’s more aggressive, distinctive and chromed - and the rear bumper has been reworked for a similar result. Higher-spec models get a visual lift from a big chrome strip along the bottoms of the doors. Inside, Nissan makes much of the new ‘premium’ steering wheel, which is bigger and fatter and has more fingertip controls.

The centre console has also been restyled for more storage space and there are various other upgrades in materials and finishes. Top-end versions now have seat heating for the front and second-row seats and a hands-free electric tailgate. A (child-size) third row of seats is still available and the boot size in the two-row versions has edged up in capacity to 565 litres.

Nissan is heavily pushing driver assistance technology, so the X-Trail gets quite a raft of options. These include a new ‘Rear Cross Traffic Alert’ that gives warnings when reversing out of a parking space. Also new is ‘Stand Still Assist’, which can hold a manual X-Trail stationary for three minutes before applying the handbrake. In early 2018, Nissan will add the option of 'ProPilot', which can control the X-Trail’s steering, acceleration and braking - within a single lane - on a motorway in heavy congestion and at a high-speed cruise.

The engine choice remains the same: a 128bhp 1.6-litre diesel, a 174bhp 2.0-litre diesel and a 161bhp 1.6-litre turbo petrol, mixed with manual or CVT gearboxes and front-wheel or four-wheel drive.

What's it like?

At the launch in Austria, our test car was a range-topping Tekna, equipped with the 2.0-litre diesel engine, six-speed manual gearbox and four-wheel drive. The CVT is now also available in conjunction with all-wheel drive, for those who would prefer it.

Although this car has a beefy list price of around £34,000, it looks like value next to the established premium-brand competition. The entry-level, £23,000 1.6-litre diesel model is even more so, but Nissan says 47% of sales will be of the range-topping version.

There’s no doubt the X-Trail hits something of A sweet spot. The car is imposing and looks like it could handle a dusty trail, but not at the cost of being unwieldy in urban areas. The refreshed interior is also pleasingly smart and plush-looking.

The new flat-bottomed steering wheel really does make a difference to the driver’s sense of quality, and while the interior is not an exercise in cutting-edge aesthetics, it has a fine sense of style and practicality. And we shouldn’t overlook the traditional Japanese ability to engineer tightly constructed interiors.

On the road, the X-Trail is nothing more and nothing less than an very amiable companion. It’s comfortable, has an excellent driving position and is an entirely undemanding car in typical driving conditions. The X-Trail asks very little of the driver and there are few drivers who will be minded to ask very much of the X-Trail. This car is a good way of making the monotony of rush hours and busy motorways as bearable as possible. It runs straight and is easy to wind along a country lane.

With that in mind, it’s a shame that Nissan has not done more to address refinement. As we has noted with the outgoing model, this diesel engine is not as hushed as it might be. Under hard acceleration and when cruising at higher speeds, it needs to be better isolated.

We drove this car back to back in Austria with the latest iteration of the Qashqai, which has been given a significant - and successful - upgrade in terms of overall refinement. The X-Trail is too noisy at motorway speeds, suffering engine intrusion and more wind flutter around the A-pillars than it should have.

Should I buy one?

The X-Trail is a million miles from being a hot rod and will hold little interest for anyone who wants to be engaged with their mode of transport. But it looks good, can handle light off-roading (it was pretty effortless on mountainous fire trails in Austria), has a nice interior, a very usable cabin and boot and is comfortable and pleasurably undemanding.

You can see why it has become the world’s biggest-selling crossover, offering an impressive amount at a discount to premium-brand rivals. But it’s frustrating that Nissan has failed to offer the same upgrades in refinement - especially for this diesel version - that did so much for the new Qashqai.

Nissan X-Trail 2.0 DCI 177 Tekna 

Location Austria; On sale Now; Price £35,960; Engine 4cyls, 1995cc, diesel; Power 174bhp at 3750rpm; Torque 280lb ft at 2000rpm; Gearbox 6-spd manual; Kerb weight 1625kg; Top speed 127mph; 0-62mph 9.4sec; Economy 50.4mpg (combined); CO2, tax band 149g/km, 30%; Rivals BMW X1 xDrive20d xLine, Skoda Kodiaq 2.0 TDI 190 SE-L

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Comments
5

jer

1 August 2017

Quieter is it because its better full stop or better because its from the class below. If the former where is the noise coming from the engine or the wind noise. Cant belive the mirrors and seals are so different. For that matter the engine install must be very similar. I find it confusing that you move from best to worst for refinement in essentially the same car.

1 August 2017
jer wrote:

I find it confusing that you move from best to worst for refinement in essentially the same car.

 Not having had the chance to ride in either, I likewise have been just as confused about this ever since the X-Trail appeared after the Qashquai.  Could the Autocar testers please explain where the differences lie?

jer

1 August 2017

... And the other Sunderland?

1 August 2017

A good car. That is why it sells. I was very impressed by my friend's x-trail. Struck me as a good compromise, rode well, lots of kit, comfy, plenty of space, good mpg, not too slow, etc etc.

Spanner

2 August 2017

I like these. and the added benefit of the 2 extra seats when required is a big plus. Shame about the confusing engine refinement in such a big car. 

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