Nissan X-Trail 2.2 dCi SE

It seems some cars barely make it from the factory to the showroom before they are facelifted. Take the Nissan X-Trail off-roader, for example, which still seems fresh, yet here's a revamped version already.

There wasn't much wrong with the X-Trail, but the facelift has given the car even more quality. All except the keenest fans will struggle to spot the new model's exterior changes, and it's a shame the diesel isn't cleaner, but the Nissan is now an even harder act for rivals to follow.

It seems some cars barely make it from the factory to the showroom before they are facelifted. Take the Nissan X-Trail off-roader, for example, which still seems fresh, yet here's a revamped version already.

In fact, the original model has been available in the UK since 2001, and is selling far better here than Nissan ever dreamed. But as the car is now three years old in Japan, it's been updated for the home market, and us Brits are getting the revised version, too.

The X-Trail is already our favourite small 4x4, having won several group tests and a pair of awards in our New Car Honours. Now the facelift has given Nissan an opportunity to fix a few niggles and fit an updated diesel engine. The oil-burner now produces a credible 136bhp and an impressive 314Nm of torque, compared with 112bhp and 270Nm of the old unit. These outputs also give the X-Trail an advantage over Land Rover's Freelander Td4, which makes do with 110bhp and 260Nm.

Although there's no doubt that the Nissan has a diesel engine under the bonnet, it's a remarkably refined unit, being smooth all the way to the red line and offering lots of torque at low revs. While the X-Trail never feels that quick, the reality is different. For example, the 0-62mph sprint is seen off in 11.5 seconds, nearly two seconds better than the Freelander. What's more, the Nissan is relaxing to drive, especially when you shift to sixth gear on a motorway. Because it's a tall 'overdrive' ratio, the X-Trail is quiet and economical, revving to only 2,500rpm at 70mph.

On the outside, it takes a keen eye to notice the changes on the body, but there are plenty of reshaped components. A revised grille is the most obvious, and there's also an all-new front bumper, which makes the car 50mm shorter than the previous model. At the rear, the indicators are now coded in red, while an alternative design for the alloy wheels is available, too.

There are more noticeable changes inside, where all materials have been upgraded to give a higher quality feel to the cabin. The central dashboard has been tweaked, and now houses neat climate control switches, while Nissan's sat-nav system is available as an option. Extra storage areas, including new chilled can holders, also feature. In the previous X-Trail, drinks had to be stowed horizontally, but the revised dash holds them upright, meaning that open cans are unlikely to spill their contents. Passengers are held tighter, too, as the seats have more under thigh support.

Chassis changes have been kept to a minimum, so the Nissan retains its car-like driving manners. While it does tend to roll a bit in corners, the X-Trail handles remarkably well for such a tall vehicle. Despite the body roll and lack of grip normally associated with an off-road machine, the Nissan is surprisingly capable on a twisty road. In fact, it's quite good fun to hustle along.

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