Nissan X-Trail Sport Expedition

Is the Nissan X-Trail the ideal car for our man Pete Gibson’s growing clan? We’ll find out over the next year!

  • STORAGE: The false boot floor and hidden drawers are really handy. They allow you to tuck small items well away from prying eyes.<BR><BR>WIPE-CLEAN BOOT: I often have to use the boot to sit in to take shots of other cars on the move – so it’s great I won’t have to worry about ruining a carpet.<BR><BR>REVERSING CAMERA: I’m not saying I’m a bad parker – but I love the colour rear camera. The clever lines that guide you into a space are especially helpful.
  • PAINTJOB: Well, maybe not the white paint itself... it looks superb. But it’s going to need a massive amount of cleaning!

There have been two new arrivals in the Gibson household recently! For starters, the birth of my second daughter Isabella brought much joy – and it coincided with the delivery of my new Nissan X-Trail Sport Expedition.

Given the ever-increasing size of the Gibson clan, a large family car was a welcome arrival on my drive. Plus, having been the keeper of our now departed Land Rover Freelander, I was keen to see how its arch-rival, the X-Trail, would compare.

Well, for starters, new babies cost money – so saving the odd penny will come in handy! And as the X-Trail costs £24,195, compared to a price tag of nearly £30,000 on my old Land Rover, it has an immediate advantage.

But the big question is, will the Nissan feel like a cheaper car day to day? If first impressions count, I don’t think so. I really like the look of the X-Trail – the optional white paint scheme might not be an obvious choice for an off-roader, but I think it works well and really complements the lines. Give me a couple of months, though, and I might be less of a fan, after the countless washes I am going to have to carry out to keep it clean...

The other thing that has made an immediate impression is the kit. This Nissan is very well equipped – the £450 white paint is our only option, and yet satellite navigation, a reversing camera, Bluetooth and cruise control are all standard. While these items might seem like luxuries, with my near 50,000 miles a year at the wheel, they are all very handy.

The reversing camera comes on automatically when you select reverse, and not only is the image in colour, but you also get lines on the screen to guide you into small spaces. I particularly love this gadget, as it removes a lot of the stress of parking such a large car.

The system also combines the sat-nav, which is easy to use and features predictive programming and an excellent bird’s eye map view. The Bluetooth connection is equally vital – I spend so much time in my car, making hands-free phone calls is essential.

And crucially, unlike lots of other devices I have tried, once paired up, the sound quality during a conversation is very good. I have to admit I’m less likely to use the X-Trail’s hill descent control – but if the road testers get their hands on the Nissan, I’m sure they’ll enjoy testing its off-road ability.

On the tarmac, I’ve been really pleased with how the Nissan has performed so far – the whole car feels improved over the outgoing model. The handling seems to have been sharpened, and the engine refinement is better, too. On top of that, the manual six-speed gearbox is surprisingly good and allows you to make use of the engine’s torque.

Inside, alterations include a new steering wheel and smarter dash design, while better materials make it a nice place to spend time. But the most obvious difference I’ve noticed over the Freelander is the larger boot. The load space is deeper, and you get the added advantage of a raised floor with built-in drawers beneath. So whether I am carrying stacks of photography equipment, or the double buggy that has become an essential part of the Gibson family day out, I can still access the drawers with ease.

Equally important is the fact that all of the boot surfaces are wipe clean, which is extremely handy for both family and work life. I just hope the plastics won’t scratch when I load up with my heavy camera cases...

Overall, though, the X-Trail has passed its first couple of weeks at Auto Express with flying colours. And thankfully, unlike my other new arrival, it isn’t keeping me awake at night!

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