Nissan X Trail, N-Vision, DIG-T 163

X Marks The Spot, model on test £29,115

When Nissan offered me the chance to review one of their cars I was actually quite looking forward to it. Okay, it’s not the most exciting marque, but in recent years Nissan has started making quite a bit more of an effort on styling and driving enjoyment.

Look back ten years or so and the Nissan Micra was (let’s be honest) ugly. But since then, by degrees, Nissan has upped its game and brought out some models that stand out for the right reasons. I’m thinking the Leaf (okay, it’s not fantastic, but still innovative), the Pulsar (which I think is underrated) and the Juke – which I really like for being different, quirky and fun to drive – my wife drives one so I use it quite a lot.

But this review is about the new X-Trail. The old version was definitely  a Nissan of old… but it’s grown up a bit, and developed its own style. Gone are the sharp lines, the squat stance and the box-like structure, and in their place are some really quite smooth lines, body styling and features that are quite unexpected on a car so unassuming. The X-Trail I think has languished somewhat in the shadow of the Juke and Qashqai (a name I loathe), but it’s quietly stepped up to the plate and really delivers a lot of bang for your buck.

This is a car that boasts 7 seats, reversing cameras, collision warning system, lane sense, a powered tailgate, and road sign recognition for a smidge over £29,000 – and that includes £575 for a paint colour that I would never have chosen. Nissan call it copper blaze, but in reality it’s a little bit brown for copper, and doesn’t blaze unless it’s in bright sunshine. But that’s a very small whinge for what was a really quite impressive car.

Of all that equipment, the only extra was the 7 seat option, and all the rest was standard on the model I tested – which in turn was not the highest spec in the range – that would be the Tekna, but with so much on the N-Vision spec, I’m not sure what you’d get on the level up. Actually I do know as I have the spec sheets – so if you’re interested, for another £2k you get a blind spot warning system, moving object detection, intelligent parking assist, leather seats that are heated and electronically adjustable, plus a few lighting upgrades for the headlights… which again is a lot of gadgets for a small price increase. I say again, this is an incredibly well specced car for less than £30,000.

Okay, so it’s good value – that’s clear, and as long as you avoid ‘copper blaze’, it will look good, but how about the actual drive? In terms of power, there is a slight issue with the DIG-T 163 in my opinion – it’s a little gutless. With around 160 bhp and a car weighing more than a ton and a half, there was always going to be a problem with pulling power, but then there are a range of diesels that offer more grunt, so simply choose one of those and you shouldn’t have any issues. It handles pretty well for such a big car, not feeling overly lumpen or weighty, and the power steering feels good – quick and responsive, lending to a good handling experience. It’s comfortable too – no complaints from passengers or driver after longer journey’s and with plenty of space about the cabin you won’t feel claustrophobic either. 

So, well equipped, nice enough to drive and a reasonable looking car… just don’t buy the petrol-powered DIG-T version; but as we’re not supposed to buy diesel anymore either that doesn’t leave much choice.

Would I buy one? Well, I don’t drive into London very often so won’t get hit by any new diesel tax, so if I was in the market, I’d opt for the diesel, avoid the ugly paint colour and happily drive off into the sunset with more toys and equipment than I would have felt I’d paid for.

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