Our first UK drive of the facelifted Nissan X-Trail highlights the differences between petrol and diesel
Judging by the tripling of X-Trail sales since the third-gen car arrived in 2014, it seems quite a few people agree with Nissan’s assertion that this is the perfect car for family adventuring.
Now we have a facelift with slightly sharper styling, a Lamborghini-esque orange paint choice, and a bit of extra length and height in the body (but, perhaps sensibly, no extra width).
There’s more safety and luxury too. Almost half of X-Trail buyers in the UK go for the top-spec Tekna models, so these now get Bose speakers, adaptive turning headlights and heated seats front and rear. You can also get more luxurious leather, in tan or cream, range-standard DAB radio, and a thicker, flat-bottomed steering wheel.
Nissan X-Trail 1.6 DIG-T Tekna
Engine: 1618cc, turbocharged petrol
Torque: 177lb ft
Gearbox: Six-speed manual
Top speed: 124mph
Fuel economy: 44.1mpg
CO2 rating: 149g/km
In a further attempt to lure buyers away from premium marques, Nissan has also added its new ProPilot autonomous-driving tech to the new X-Trail, combining adaptive cruise control and lane keep assist to control single-lane steering, acceleration and braking in both congested and freer-flowing traffic.
Alongside a 1.6-litre turbo petrol with 161bhp there are two turbodiesels: a 126bhp 1.6-litre and a torquier 174bhp 2.0-litre. Although there’s a choice of 4WD and a 6-speed manual or CVT auto with the diesels, you can only get the 1.6 petrol as a 2WD manual.
We’ve just tried the X-Trails in the UK and can say straightaway that they are a very relaxing drive, especially in light of their fairly utilitarian market positioning. They’re comfy, easy cruisers irrespective of engine, and agile for the size. The diesels aren’t especially quiet, and wind is another issue, but as long as you’re not expecting ultimate steering feel and body control you’re unlikely to be disappointed.
Predictably, the DIG-T 163 petrol isn’t as flexible of the more powerful of the two diesel engines. Peak torque of 177lb ft comes in commendably early, at 2000rpm, but at those revs the 2.0-litre diesel has an extra 103lb ft of torque and feels a lot more effortless.
The petrol engine is lacking trundling urge, then, but at least it compensates with much less mechanical noise than the diesels. Nissan expects fewer than two in ten X-Trail buyers to go for petrol, but those buyers needn’t feel too shortchanged if they’re happy to potter along without doing too much overtaking. Indeed, if most of your mileage is on the motorway you might well prefer its extra refinement. There’s no real economy penalty either, with the petrol’s extra-urban economy figure of 46mpg not far off the 2.0-litre diesel’s 50mpg.
Off road, the petrol struggles to impress, not least because of its front-wheel-drive-only format. In the diesels, locking the driveline into four-wheel-drive mode allows them to tackle the sort of terrain few drivers will actually experience in the real world. The diesels’ torque helps, too: all of our soft-road muddy slopes were negotiated pretty much with the engine merely ticking over.
Back on even quite narrow Tarmac roads, the tight turning circle and easy controls will make the refreshed X-Trail attractive to a wide range of buyers. It may not be the best-driving offering in this segment, or the most refined, but it’s certainly big and ugly enough to please most buyers.