Nissan’s decision to power the X-Trail with a 128bhp 1.6-litre turbodiesel and a 160bhp 1.6-litre petrol was a bold one, but one it ultimately backed down on with the introduction of the 177bhp 2.0-litre diesel unit.
The 1.6dCi makes the car competitive on CO2 and fuel economy – important enough in their own right – but make no mistake about it: in one or two areas, compromise has been made.
That the X-Trail can hit 0-60mph in a shade over 11 seconds is acceptable. The class average is about a second quicker, but there aren’t many rivals that can beat the X-Trail on passenger space, CO2 and economy as well as on sprinting prowess.
The bigger problem is that the X-Trail’s performance soon begins to feel a touch one-dimensional. The motor pulls cleanly from low revs, but quite lazily until 1800rpm comes around – and that’s in spite of gearing that feels short in second and third, presumably to mitigate the effects of that modest powerplant.
When the turbo comes on song, the engine offers a decent hit of torque, but it’s mostly served in between 1800 and 3200rpm. You can easily confine yourself to that slice of the tacho once used to it, but doing so doesn’t make the X-Trail feel like a traditional 4x4 with urge in reserve.
It’s also unmistakably the case that refinement and shift quality from this powertrain aren’t up to the standard set by the smaller Qashqai – but there’s no reason they shouldn’t be.
The X-Trail is averagely quiet at a cruise but a little gravelly under load, and there’s notch in the gear lever’s action we weren’t expecting – along with a bit of vibration. Our test car also suffered with a couple of minor cabin trim rattles that took the edge off its cruising manners.
When specifying your X-Trail, think carefully before choosing the auto; Nissan’s Xtronic still feels remarkably old-fashioned compared to some rivals.