New Nissan X-Trail: In praise of the weekend warrior

If you want to test a 4x4 car properly, you've got to take it somewhere where it's really going to be tested, and that's true of the latest Nissan X-Trail.
While most UK reviewers took it for a few laps of the local ring road and perhaps on the school run, South Africa's did exactly what the makers wanted – they took it on safari up the Limpopo River.

The bad news was that the X-Trail couldn't quite make it up a rain-slashed slope at a staggering 24 degrees with rocky outcrops somewhat larger than the generous 20cm clearance would allow. The good news was that it completely took the rest of what South Africa's toughest off-roads could throw at it, passing what writer Brendan Seery called "the weekend warrior test".

And that's exactly what the latest X-Trail is – a family car in the 4x4 mould that's equally good on the school run and a trip to the supermarket than it is grunting its way up the side of a mountain trail that's up to your ankles in mud.

The new X-Trail is 90kg lighter than the old model, meaning the handling is a little lighter. British drivers will find it handles more like a crossover than a traditional SUV, and the improved bodywork has more than a hint of Qashqai to it.

And it's inside that drivers and passengers notice the difference. Drivers get an increased array of safety aids, a brilliant reversing camera system, and a spacious boot. Passengers get an enormous amount of legroom, and there's any number of reclining and seating permutations. The rear seats – in a clever touch – are slightly higher than the front, meaning passengers don't miss out on the front view. It is – seriously – a leader in its class.

There's also good news if you're looking for a used X-Trail. The older models are holding up their value well, and remain affordable, starting from around £9,000. Reliability means that they're one of the best used SUVs on the market at the moment.
New or used, speak to us at Colin Appleyard about your new Nissan X-Trail.