Nissan X-Trail

We like driving our white X-Trail, but it’s still a lot of effort to wash the dirt off!

  • Extra-large sunroofs are all the rage judging by the number of test cars we see fitted with them – and our Nissan has a big one as standard. It allows plenty of light into the cabin and makes the X-Trail great for car-to-car photography!
  • There’s nothing wrong with the way the X-Trail has been assembled, and the interior works really well – but the cabin plastics are all very hard. It lacks the tactile quality of the more upmarket Land Rover Freelander.

Clean me! That’s what you see written in the dirt on white vans – and now I know why! Trying to keep our long-term Nissan X-Trail whiter than white takes serious elbow grease.

I’ve lost count of how many times I’ve gone to the local garage for a jet wash, and the wash/wax/rinse cycle is far too familiar for my liking. The owner must think I’ve got some kind of obsession, but unless the pearlescent white paint is sparkling, I’m not happy.

As Auto Express’s staff photographer, the interior usually gets a tough time, but the normal scuffs from camera bags and cases have been avoided thanks to the Nissan’s hard-wearing cabin.

However, a trip to the recycling centre with a large load did leave a lasting mark. After I was forced to brake hard by other traffic, a piece of wood made a couple of small holes in the passenger-side rear door panel – but thankfully this looks repairable. Meanwhile, on a recent group test I got to experience the Nissan in its natural habitat when it met its main rivals (Issue 1,026).

For the test we headed to north Wales – and after five hours’ driving I appreciated just how refined the X-Trail is. Sixth gear cruising is very relaxed and quiet for an off-roader. Hit the mud, though and its clever 4x4 set-up keeps you moving. Changing from two-wheel drive to four-wheel drive using the selector switch makes more traction instantly available. The rotary switch is right by the gearlever, so it couldn’t be easier to change between the three settings: 2wd, 4wd and a 4wd lock.

The Nissan finished as runner-up in our test to the Freelander, which is a good showing. I ran the Land Rover before the Nissan arrived and I loved it. However, the X-Trail has a more honest feel. It may lack the overall quality of the Freelander, but it’s cheaper, bigger and almost as comfortable. If only I’d chosen a more practical colour!

Second Opinion

As Pete mentioned, the X-Trail ran the class-leading Land Rover Freelander close in a compact SUV group test that I took part in back in Issue 1,026 – and for good reason. Our white long- termer might be constantly in need of a wash, but it can show many hatchbacks a clean pair of heels thanks to its powerful 2.0-litre dCi diesel engine. And it’s not only fast – the SUV’s tidy handling makes the X-Trail an entertaining drive, plus as our off-road test proved, it’s great in the rough stuff, too.

Ross Pinnock Road tester

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