Company Car

Your Independent source of fleet news, reviews & interviews

The secret diary of a motoring journalist aged 39¾'ish


21st July 2020

An SUV with diesel engine, four-wheel drive and seven seats? Surely this must be an outdated combo given the propensity of car makers now to push hybrids, two-wheel drive and style over substance? Well, not if you’re Nissan and the car in question is the X-Trail as it offers a lot of established values mixed with a flexible motor and the traction of all-wheel drive. Should be an interesting week.
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A day out with the kids as it’s the summer holidays and the X-Trail has no trouble accommodating my daughter’s child seat. However, the eagle-eyed nippers both spot this is a seven-seater X-Trail and immediately want to sit in the third row. It shows how easy it is to pull up the two separate chairs, though stashing the load cover means chucking it in behind the front seats.
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With the two third two seats folded back down, the X-Trail quickly converts into ultra-practical mode as the boot is huge. Just as well as I need to head to the DIY store and put that road tester’s cliché of carting home some decorating materials. Or, in this case, new felt for the shed roof so my bikes don’t get soaked. Well, it is summer in Scotland now, so the weather can be very mixed…
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The six-speed manual gearbox in the X-Trail is well matched to the 1.7-litre turbodiesel engine. Together, they make the car feel brisker than the claimed 0-62mph time of 10.7 seconds. However, the X-Trail is definitely a car that likes to waft rather than be hurried and it settles into this style of driving superbly. Decently refined and with a softly sprung feel to the suspension, it’s ideal for mopping up the jagged back roads that make up so much of my regular driving.
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A quick trip up to Dundee this morning and a chance to stretch the X-Trail’s legs on some dual carriageway and motorway. That easy-going nature transfers well into this sort of journey, though the diesel motor can be heard a bit too much when cruising at 70mph compared to, say, a Skoda Kodiaq’s. Still, it has no trouble staying with the flow of traffic and there’s no need to drop out of sixth gear for the duration on multi-lane roads.
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A friend sent a framed print of this old Citroen advert as a belated birthday present knowing of my love for 2CVs. I had several in my youth and yearn for one now, but this is as close as I’m going to get for the time being. It reminds me of the 2CV’s loping suspension that made light work of poor roads and has this in common with the Nissan X-Trail, unlike too many try-hard SUVs with sporty set-ups.
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I’ve not had any need of the X-Trail’s four-wheel drive ability for the whole time I’ve been in the car. Yet come winter, I suspect this car would come into its own around my part of the world. It’s quick and easy to select all-wheel drive with the rotary dial down behind the gear lever and can be done on the fly. The X-Trail may not be the best bet for most company drivers, but there are those that will appreciate its dual capabilities.
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