Nissan X-Trail dCi 130 Tekna 4WD (2014) review

Published:11 July 2014

Nissan X-Trail 130dCi 4WD
  • At a glance
  • 2 out of 5
  • 3 out of 5
  • 4 out of 5
  • 3 out of 5
  • 3 out of 5

The old UN peacekeeper Nissan Patrol-inspired looks might have gone, but with the adoption of the new Qashqai’s curvier face, the new X-Trail has been given a far broader appeal. Replacing not one but two cars, the 2014 Nissan X-Trail also substitutes for the Qashqai +2. That’s right, for the first time there is a seven-seat option on an X-Trail.

Repeating the Qashqai formula, Nissan again offers both a front-wheel drive and all-wheel drive version of the X-Trail. We caught up with the a range-topping, four-wheel drive version for our Nissan X-Trail review.

Nissan X-Trail: what lies beneath

Unlike the penny-pinching engineering approach that saw engineers fit a cheap rear torsion bar suspension to all front-wheel drive Qashqais, all Nissan X-Trails come with a multi-link rear axle.

Like many modern all-wheel drive set-ups, Nissan’s All-Mode 4x4-i system shuffles torque when it detects slip up to 50mph and can be ‘locked’ in 4wd mode in slippery conditions below 25mph when it provides a 50:50 torque split to the front and rear wheels. Nothing groundbreaking - but it should be enough to drag you out of a muddy field even on road tyres.

Back on the road, standard Adaptive Ride Control uses the cruise control’s radar to detect undulations and stiffen the dampers to maintain body control. On rougher surfaces it even resorts to tickling the brakes to reduce body pitch and movement. Clever stuff over sharp expansion joints on jittery motorway surfaces.

Active Trace Control, meanwhile, is also standard and has been created to help curb the heavy Nissan’s appetite for understeer, braking individual wheels to help the X-Trail turn into a bend.

The four-wheel drive version is also available with XTronic – Nissan’s CVT it continues to persevere with. In this incarnation it offers something called Active Engine Brake that bizarrely uses the brakes to fake the feeling of engine braking – useful when towing, apparently.

Engines, specs in new 2014 Nissan X-Trail?

There’s the choice of only one engine in the UK a 128bhp 1.6-litre diesel. Other markets offer a 2.0-litre and 2.5-litre petrol, but we make do with the puny 1.6.

Actually, despite its swept capacity, the 1.6 offers 236lb ft of torque – the same as the old 2.0-litre diesel. That said, for those who like to pull, the towing weight falls from the old car’s 2200kg to 2000kg.

The big benefit of the new engine is even with the four-wheel drive hardware its claimed fuel consumption is 53.3mpg. That's pretty handy for such a large car.

Let’s off road!

Let’s not. Our drive was restricted to tarmac and a few dirt roads. Only in slippery conditions does the all-wheel drive claw an advantage over its two-paw sibling, with less torque steer and more surefooted progress, but unfortunately there’s a big penalty with the four-wheel drive version of the X-Trail - and it’s what happens when you try to drive quickly.

Banish the memories of even the recent Mk2 Qashqai because the heaviest X-Trail suffers chronic understeer in tighter bends. There’s also an unsettling amount of roll, while poor steering feel makes it difficult to place the X-Trail accurately.

This is disappointing because Nissan said it’s shaved 90kg off the kerbweight over the old car, but we can’t remember the last X-Trail being so lethargic to changes of direction. A Ford Kuga and a Land Rover Freelander feel more agile and willing to play.

Does the new X-Trail quicken the heart rate?

Against the clock the X-Trail also appears painfully slow. Even with the traction advantage of the added pair of driven wheels the Nissan can only manage an 11 second dash to 62mph, topping out a very average-sounding 117mph.

Behind the wheel it doesn’t feel quite so bad. There’s actually useful lowdown torque and the recently introduced 1.6-litre diesel isn’t too vocal.

Whisper it, even the often-derided CVT transmission isn’t a disaster once you get used to the artificial feeling every now and then.

Ride comfort clearly has been a priority and the X-Trail we drove felt calm and supple even on the largest 19-inch wheels, but we reserve the right to change our opinion once we’ve driven it on the UK’s appalling black top.

Seven heaven? Seven seats on the new Nissan X-Trail

What both the Kuga and Freelander lack though are an occasional third row of seats. On the X-Trail it’s a £700 option. There’s only enough space for kids but the second row does slide forward to free up more space at a push.

It’s in the interior you’ll find the X-Trail's best attribute. There’s a pair of comfortable front seats and an interior that feels far more expensive than the old car's plasticky cabin.

The range-topping Tekna, unsurprisingly, gets everything you could ever want: from 19-inch wheels, leather, to Nissan’s recent Driver Attention Alert that detects erratic steering inputs normally associated with suddenly awaking at 80mph on the M4. The Nissan X-Trail then politely suggests you take a break.

The X-Trail also gets the Nissan’s novel traffic sign reader.

Verdict

While the actual driving experience has taken the back seat, the X-Trail is still a well-made, appealing family car and efficient, if not quite as practical an alternative to an MPV.

Specs

Price when new: £31,695
On sale in the UK: Now
Engine: 1598cc 16v turbodiesel 4cyl, 128bhp @ 4000rpm, 236lb ft @ 1750rpm
Transmission: Six-speed manual, four-wheel drive
Performance: 11.0sec 0-62mph, 117mph, 53.3mpg, 139g/km CO2
Weight / material: 1610kg/steel
Dimensions (length/width/height in mm): 4640/1820/1710mm

Rivals

Other Models

Photo Gallery

  • Nissan X-Trail comes with either 2WD or 4WD
  • Nissan X-Trail also replaces old Qashqai+2
  • Nissan X-Trail's interior has had a hike in quality
  • Nissan X-Trail's second row slides to make room for those in the third row
  • Nissan X-Trail offers tech that detects if you're feeling tired
  • Under the bonnet of the Nissan X-Trail you'll find a 128bhp 1.6-litre diesel
  • Muddy good fun. 4WD Nissan X-Trail is capable in slippery conditions
  • Top-of-the-range Nissan X-Trail costs £31,695
  • Nissan X-Trail rolls too much and understeers too easily
  • New Nissan X-Trail ditches its old UN peacekeeper looks
  • Nissan X-Trail is best a more sedate pace
  • What would you have an MPV or the seven seat Nissan X-Trail?
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