Time Well Spent: Nissan X-Trail Tekna 130dCI – 7/10

Mike Humble:

To many, the current Nissan X-Trail seems to convey the image of a slightly larger Qashqai, and to be honest, I thought so too. But I’m pleased to report that its much more than this…

The £32,110 Nissan X-Trail dCI 130 Tekna 4wd

The X-Trail, just like its smaller brother the Qashqai, is a very popular car out on the roads. You may not initially think so, but if you keep an eye open you’ll soon notice them. Armed with seven seats, the X-Trail has effectively replaced the old Qashqai +2 model and remains every inch as practical as you could imagine while visually being obvious to the Nissan family look that’s obvious right across the current range. Our model on test was the 1.6 diesel “Tekna” – a model that upon reading the extensive equipment list offers more bells and whistles than Brighton’s annual Pride carnival.

As with almost every single Nissan model current or before it, the X-Trail upon first inspection impresses with its close fitting panels and millpond reflective paint application. In fact the X-Trail comes very close to looking and feeling like a premium product – even if the brand moniker doesn’t quite cut it in terms of kudos against other rivals such as the impressive Honda CR-V or Volkswagen Tiguan. Brand snobbery aside its hard not to be impressed by a definite feel of quality and quantity both inside and out. The alloys and lamp clusters look really classy especially – overall I think it looks rather smart.

Generally its of decent quality and those front seats are really supportive. Thick A posts and large door mirrors hamper forward visibility though. Slick gear change and great driving position are major plus points. Owners trading up from the Qashqai will feel at home with the overall layout and look of the controls.

Climb inside and the smell of leather greet your nostrils, unlike some other cut price SUV models the X-Trail doesn’t smell cheap and nasty akin to a branch of Poundland on a rainy day. As with the exterior, the inside comes across as a cut above to some other rival marques. For example, the front seats are especially well padded without feeling too baggy or over firm as with some German models – they’re electrically adjustable by the way. I’m a stickler for front seat comfort and I can truly say with absolute honesty that the X-Trail has front seats that are simply just right. For a car with an upright stance with a tinge of loft, the driving position is very car like but still pleasingly commanding at the same time.

The driver interface relationship between the wheel, the pedals and controls is very good indeed and also worthy of note is the rather excellent gear change quality – short, swift and precise with a knob that fits in the palm perfectly… Its not all wine and roses though. The A posts are extremely thick and couple that with the large doors mirrors and you sometimes finding yourself bobbing and ducking like Muhammed Ali for a clear view of the traffic around you on roundabouts or at busy T-Junctions. The instruments and facia illumination both reflect in the glass at night too, but this can be less of a concern with use of the dimmer switch.

All doors open to almost 90 degrees meaning entry and exit is a cinch. Rear space is commodious and the rear bench slides forward to access the optional 3rd row.
The electronic tailgate opens up to reveal a potential of almost 2000 litres of space once the seats are folded down. Its a wide and flat load bay too. The standard panoramic roof allows some welcome light into the rather dark cabin.

Nothing to report on the automatic climate control I’m pleased to mention – it simply works as you’d expect and the controls are clearly marked and fiddle free to operate. As mentioned earlier the practicality is there for all to see. Plenty of spaces and hidey holes for goods and chattels, a gluttonous fabric lined glove-box, huge boot as well as room for everyone impressed me. A neat feature I noticed with the floor mounted cup holders was the way that ice cold air from the aircon can be blown onto a drinks can by means of its own dedicated air vent – now that’s someone thinking for the owners / occupants needs for you.

Passengers will like the abundance of rear space and the third row, even though at best only suitable for the small folk, it can be balanced for leg room thanks to the sliding base and reclining backrest of the normal rear seat. Boot space should suffice too thanks to a flat floor, a wide tailgate and cargo space of almost 2000 litres – way ahead of some rivals. The tailgate is made from plastic to save weight glass excluding of course and its operation is electronic for both opening and closing operations. Coming in seven seat format means you loose a fair chunk of expected underfloor storage space, but taking that into account you wont feel short changed in terms of outright storage and passenger space.

The infotainment system will still swallow a compact disc too (remember those?) as well as streaming music from a smartphone or MP3 socket. It also features a comprehensive trip computer, an easy to use Sat-Nav and the reversing camera. Though it must be mentioned that the font style and screen resolution are both slightly old fashioned and not of the highest quality. It is however a car you soon feel very safe and secure in thanks to almost every safety abbreviation you can imagine. Standard kit in Tekna flavour includes things like ABS, EBD ESP as well as moving object detection and traffic signal recognition not to mention park assist – and it all works without faff or fuss… nice.

From all angles it look quite good thanks to impressive shut lines and flaw free paintwork – almost premium in fact. Of which it should do for a price tag of over £31,000.
The 130Ps 1.6 diesel is very economical and smooth when cruising but torque drops off under 1500rpm like a stone. Push hard and there’s some booming noticeable. A 2.0 diesel that’s been recently introduced should suffice the need for outright speed. Under bonnet view is a messy cacophony of pipes, wires and trunking.

Capable safe handling and poise of what is in all respects a large car reassures the driver, the handling and ride almost betters some smaller family hatchbacks. Okay the steering is a bit arcade game light in terms of feel at the rim but the turn-in is really quite good and despite the cars 19 inch rims, the ride always felt controlled and smooth. Plonk it on the motorway at the regulation 70mph and it bowls along reasonably quietly and arrow straight – effortless you might say. Providing you keep the 130PS diesel on the boil progress is decent enough but beware – the torque falls off a cliff below 1500rpm. From that speed onwards though the power delivery is constant and linear all the way to the rev limiter.

The intelligent all mode four wheel drive may not give you Camel Trophy capabilities but what it will do is see you out of trouble on loose, wet, snowy, grassy or loose terrain. When selected into auto 4wd mode you wont even notice its activation though there is a display function to tell you where the power is going between the axles. All in all the X-Trail Tekna is a well made, practical and lavishly equipped car. It doesn’t excite or stimulate the soul but does connect with those who have a need for space and practicality. I would say however if power and speed is your need… go for the recently introduced 2.0 version.



Like the Qashqai, it doesn’t hold back when it comes to ticking the boxes for space and user friendliness. It soldiers on with the task in hand while being totally effortless to drive and own – as with any Nissan.

I like the handling and safety / features the car offers and being a Nissan also means you shouldn’t have too many head banging moments with the dealer network. Its a bit underpowered in 1.6 dCI format but the running costs are up there with the very best – averaging almost 50mpg on test wasn’t that shy of the manufacturers claimed data.

Its comfy, relaxing, safe and snug – everything this type of car needs to offer its owner. By no means an exhilarating purchase but most definitely one that makes perfect sense if space with a dash of style allied to a surefooted chassis are what you require in an SUV.

MODEL TESTED: Nissan X-Trail Tekna dCI-130 4wd

Price: £32,110 OTR

Driveline: Nissan Renault R9M 1.6 16v turbo diesel with 6sp manual & 4WD

Power / Torque: 130Ps @ 4000rpm / 320Nm @ 1750rpm

Performance: *0-62 in 11 seconds with 110mph max

Economy: *52.3mpg combined (49.7mpg on test)

Co2: 143g/Km (Euro5)

* = manufacturers or Govt claimed data

What’s Hot: Attractive styling – Well equipped – Efficient and economical – Spacious – Effortless to drive – Superb gear shift action – Excellent brakes – Impressive level of safety equipment – Good heating and ventilation – Tidy handling – Decent build quality – All round camera system makes up for below par visibility when parking – Feels and looks almost like a premium car – There’s a noticeable feeling of security once you bond with the car – Clever i4wd system get you out of trouble almost unnoticeably.

What’s Not: Brand name lacks kudos at this price tag – Lacks outright performance when loaded up – Display screen prone to sunlight reflections in the daytime and instruments reflect in the windows at night – The odd bit of incidental plastic and trim feels cheap – Wind noise quite noticeable on blustery days – Over light steering – Engine bay looks messy and untidy compared to some rivals.

For more information on the Nissan X-Trail CLICK HERE

One comment

  1. I think brand kudos is a pretty out of date principal these days, you see loads of Hyundai and Kia coming out on the private school runs here in Sussex

    Remember nobody makes a bad car these dsys……except maybe Ssangyon and Dacia

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