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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.
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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.

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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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