Overall rating: 4/5
The previous generation Nissan X-Trail's success was cut short as a result of significant changes in legislation leading to emissions-related taxation, but also by the phenomenal popularity of the then-new Qashqai crossover. Now the X-Trail is back with a whole new approach and we've driven it on Irish roads for the first time.
In the Metal:
From a styling perspective the new Nissan X-Trail marks a total departure from the model it replaces, following very much in the wheel-tracks of the Qashqai. In fact it is only when you see the two models side-by-side that the differences become more apparent. Size is the most noticeable area, with the X-Trail very much now playing the big brother role to the popular Qashqai.
The X-Trail certainly looks rugged, even if most will rarely venture further than a muddy country road. From the front its high bonnet and raked windscreen gives it a sportier image than some of its rivals, while the rear section manages to avoid having a boxy appearance despite now coming with an option of two additional rear seats. It is worth mentioning though that, when in use, those seats do take away a reasonable amount of boot space and require the middle row of seats to be brought forward, which can restrict rear passenger legroom. With children it shouldn't be too much of an issue, but worth bearing in mind if you have taller passengers from time to time.
The new Nissan X-Trail shares its platform with the Qashqai, and that's no bad thing. As SUVs go, the X-Trail is more than civilised on the road although it doesn't drive in quite as much of a car-like fashion as its smaller sibling does. That said, it does cope well on poorer surfaces and on the motorway cruises easily without transmitting too much road noise to the cabin.
Many will like the elevated seating position, which does give a more commanding view of the road ahead, while Nissan has laid the dash out well too. The generously-sized seven-inch infotainment screen that comes as standard throughout much of the range has afforded designers the opportunity to keep the centre console relatively clutter free and, for the most part, the majority of more regularly-used controls fall easily to hand. The front seats are supportive and over a long trip remained comfortable.
Around town the X-Trail is still quite manoeuvrable and getting into tighter parking spaces is made easier with the overhead-view camera that comes as part of the Technology Pack. It may be larger than the Qashqai. but it still fits into a standard car space with a bit of room to spare on each side and conveniently doesn't have overly-long doors, making life in car parks a tad easier.
What you get for your Money:
Nissan to be fair has played a clever game when it comes to where it is pitching the new X-Trail. Previously, the offering of a Qashqai +2 option did the already ageing X-Trail no favours, but this time around the new Qashqai is only being offered in five-seat guise, meaning that those who have the need for a seven-seater will have to go for the X-Trail. Crucially, the entry-level price for the seven-seat X-Trail is in between the two most popular Qashqai models - the 1.6-litre diesel SV and SVE. Even throwing a few optional extras and a higher trim level into the mix still makes the X-Trail, in many ways, a more attractive offering for a portion of prospective buyers.
This new model, with the help of a more considered model range from Nissan, has put the X-Trail back onto many shopping lists. The new car for the most part not only drives every bit as well as the popular Qashqai which it shares much of its components with, it is also practical and has remained well-priced. An added bonus is that it is now one of the most handsome SUVs currently on the market, all of which when combined may require more than a few of its rivals to start sharpening their pencils.