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Nissan X-Trail

It looks like it would be more at home on the United nations fleet, but our Nissan X-Trail is proving its worth as a daily companion for our staff snapper.

  • COLOUR: It’s not to everyone’s taste, but that’s all white! The stark colour helps this tough-looking SUV stand out even more.HIGH RIDE HEIGHT: Gives a great view of the road, while doubling up as a handy – and lofty – stage for my camera on photoshoots.VERSATILITY: The Nissan is a superb all-rounder: it’s just as happy tackling a long journey full of camera equipment as it is transporting my young family.SUNROOF Panoramic glass roofs are getting more common. But this one can be opened to let out the hot air, too.
  • RADIO: You need a good radio to stay sane on long trips. The X-Trail’s is fine when it’s working, but it keeps losing stations.CLEANING: The white colour looks brilliant... when it’s clean. Even a light layer of grime takes the shine off the Nissan’s looks.
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Keeping the peace when you travel 30,000 miles a year on congested roads is essential – and my latest long-termer takes its anti-aggravation duties extremely seriously!

Thanks to the X-Trail’s stark white colour scheme and boxy lines, several colleagues have nicknamed it the UN Transporter – a job often tackled by the Nissan’s big brother, the Patrol. I’m happy to take the jibes on the chin, because I like the X-Trail’s tough looks and I’ve come to respect its great all-round abilities over the past couple of months.

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However, don’t let the basic colour scheme fool you into believing this is an entry-level model fit only for military duties. Far from it. The X-Trail is proving a superbly comfortable and capable road car. The ride is soft but not unstable, and considering its size you can still push it hard into corners with minimal fuss.

The 2.0-litre dCi engine is loosening up, and I’m impressed how hushed it is at any speed. Combined with the slick six-speed box, the oil-burner is keeping my running costs down, with average fuel economy of 38mpg. Given that a fill-up now costs around £60, any savings are gladly accepted!

I spend a lot of time on motorways driving to and from photoshoots all over the UK. The X-Trail feels relaxing and secure, helped by the great visibility you gain from sitting up high. That lofty roof was put to good use on a recent road test: the static pictures needed to be taken from a higher angle and the Nissan’s top provided the perfect shooting platform, while the rails easily bore my weight.

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Having done more than 5,000 miles in the car, I have found it’s the small things that are proving most useful... and annoying! First the good stuff. I never normally use cruise control, but it’s so simple to operate in the Nissan that I’ve been converted. On long journeys I now use the system for at least a couple of hours at a time and it makes motorway miles fly by.

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Another plus is the large double sunroof, which has helped me to make the most of the recent spell of hot weather while on the road. Opening it up allows the cabin to cool down after it’s been parked up in hot weather for a while, and even at motorway speeds the noise levels are not uncomfortable when it is fully ajar.

A minor complaint with the otherwise faultless cabin is the radio. It loses signals from stations – and it’s not only local frequencies that disappear, but national ones, too. While re-tuning works, there must be a loose connection somewhere. It’s something to get sorted at the next service, if not before.

Other than this, the X-Trail has proved itself a fine form of transport for a snapper. Easy to drive and versatile, it’s a great family car that can accommodate rear-seat passengers or my bulky camera cases with no problems. I’m lucky to have a job that demands different things from my motor nearly every week. Robustness one day, rough-roading the next to get to a remote location, then weekend comfort and refinement. Even loaded with three adults, two kids and a week’s shopping, the X-Trail takes it all in its stride. I look forward to plenty more peaceful miles... but I’ll probably remove my makeshift gaffer tape UN livery first!

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