Nissan Trail Master

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Trail Master


Nissan’s original X-Trail first hit the showrooms well before the dreaded ‘lifestyle purchase’ was even thought about. Back in the day as the saying goes, it was Nissan’s X-Trail that was about the only form of competition to Land Rover’s Freelander. The Nissan’s boxy profile, high ride height along, automatic 4x4 and the centrally mounted instrumentation were the hallmarks of what at the time was quite an advanced everyman’s family AWD that had some real ability.


A model that has stood the test of time, whilst others have fallen by the wayside, Nissan’s continued updates have seen the X-Trail endure to the latest generation as seen here. Yes, since it first appeared in 2000 the X-Trail has changed, but the model’s general ethos has remained more or less the same. Based now on the jointly developed Nissan/Renault CMF or Common Module Family platform, the Third Generation X-Trail now incorporates noticeable styling cues from the slightly smaller Qashqai, the oft and easily forgotten Murano and the legendary Patrol.


Head on the grille filling Nissan badge now houses all the vehicle’s forward facing sensors which in turn is surrounded on three sides by the sizable chrome insert. The now restyled twin LED projector arrow head profiled headlights, LED daytime running lights and sloping bonnet now bring the X-Trail into line with Nissan current corporate look. Deep front, side and rear body mouldings, higher cut arches along with a high beltline, curvaceous light lines and chrome window surrounds defines the side profile whilst a rounded rump, bold, broad rear lights, silvered roof rails and electric tailgate complete the X-Trail’s external appearance.


On the 177 Tekna as tested the X-Trail sits on striking diamond cut 19” alloys and 225/55 tyres, independent MacPherson struts and independent multi-link suspension front and rear joining it all together. Intending that most owners will at some point take their X-Trail off road, front and rear overhangs are 940mm and 995mm with a minimum ground clearance of a moderately useful 210mm, X-Trail owners as a rule slightly more adventurous than their more mundane, image conscious lifestyle counterparts.


Inside the cabin the Tekna trim buyer isn’t handicapped by a lack of quality. Black leather, a thick rim, multi-function D-wheel, soft touch surfaces and carbon fibre effect inserts cover every part of the X-Trail’s interior. Oversized analogue instrumentation is clear to read as is the central readout. A 7” touch screen takes care of the satnav and connectivity along with the CD and auxiliary attachments. One slight oversight especially on what is the X-Trail’s premier model is the lack of DAB radio. Not particularly detrimental in its own right, but a noticeable omission given that nearly all cars now feature this digital facility.


With ample room for five, seats six and seven folding flat within the rear luggage area, the door bins could be a little larger but along with the glovebox, central armrest cubby and cup holders provide sufficient cabin storage for most users. Luggage space with all seats in position is a surprising 445 litres expanding to 1,996 litres with the 60:40 split second and third rows folded with an additional 2,000kg of braked towing capacity. Of advantage to both the rear or the rear passengers and cargo is the almost negligible intrusion of the rear wheel arches which gives a minimum cargo width of 1,140mm, a noticeable advantage over a significant number of the competition.


Engine wise customers can select from the 1.6 litre petrol or a pair of diesels, a 1.6 or in the case of the X-Trail on test, a 2-litre turbo diesel developing 177hp and 380Nm of torque that in conjunction with the 6-speed manual gearbox means a top speed of approximately 108mph with a 0-62mph of 9.4 seconds, the figures more or less the exact same for the CVT transmission option. The X-Trail though isn’t about performance, it’s more an all round delivery of economy and comfort. Expect an average of around 37mpg or well over 400 miles per 60 tank of diesel which, given the fact the X-Trail is a more focused SUV is more than acceptable.


To select the different drive settings, Nissan has retained the familiar rotary switch located just to the rear of the centrally located cup holders. In the 2WD setting the power goes directly to the front wheels, Auto allows the car to distribute drive to the rear wheels as and when the system detects any form of wheel slip or spin, a simple display indicating real time drive. And for the occasions when the X-Trail is heading off road or driving in snow, 4x4 Lock ensures drive is permanently sent to all four wheels. My advice, leave the X-Trail in Auto and let the Nissan sort itself out since like many of the AWD SUV’s, the X-Trail will tend to know better than you as to what it requires.


To drive the new X-Trail fitted with the latest spec 2-litre diesel performs adequately. Reasonably light to drive with decent visibility, if you do need the X-Trail to move along a little quicker you will have to push this SUV on reasonably hard. Both on and off road the ride is composed only the most severe surfaces upsetting the general equanimity.


Hold the gears and head up the rev range and it will pick its feet up if at times a fraction reluctantly. Conversely, general motoring is relaxed an unhurried, the Nissan making few if any demands of the driver. The exactly three turns lock-to-lock 11.2 meter turning circle aids in the X-Trail’s decent manoeuvrability whilst the camera system allows the driver to keep a close view of all four corners in tighter situations. Driver confidence is also enhanced by the evenness of the disc all-round ABS system, even harsh braking failing to upset the X-Trail’s overall balance.


Fitted with the usual traction control systems and driver aids, if two slightly negative comments had to be made its the rather long throw and at times less than slick gear change along with the auto hold. Meant to cut in when pulling away on inclines, the system has an annoying if only occasional habit of interfering when pulling out of a level junction. This means that whilst you’re ready to go the X-Trail at times isn’t. End result is the system backs the revs off at the least appropriate moment!


The new X-Trail means visually at least it now shares more in common with the smaller Qashqai SUV and will increase the model’s overall appeal to a wider potentially newer audience. Now a common practice within the motor industry and the reason many lament the passing of the earlier, boxier X-Trails. The improvements have ensured the new X-Trail is up to date and technically on a par with its rivals. The downside is that the X-Trail has lost some of its individual character, one of the reasons many people bought the earlier versions. Still reasonably capable off road when driven sensibly, it’s the reliability of the model the latest incarnation carries forward. Nissan’s X-Trail always was one of the most reliable and versatile of its type, two vital traits that still seem to be part and parcel.


The range topping X-Trail Tekna as tested including the rather striking Monarch Orange paintwork and optional extra row of seats will cost you £37,365 on the road whilst the entry level petrol powered 1.6 DiG-T 115hp Visia is priced at £23,385. Currently, Nissan are running with the 3:2:1 finance scheme that includes various package offers. Priced more or less correctly, Nissan’s new X-Trail still remains one of the few SUV’s for those looking for a slightly more hardcore package


By; Mark Stone