Primary Navigation Mobile

Nissan X-Trail engines, drive and performance

2022 onwards (change model)
Performance rating: 3.5 out of 53.5

Written by Murray Scullion Published: 17 February 2023 Updated: 28 September 2023

  • Mild and full hybrid engines
  • No plug-in, electric or diesel
  • Front or four-wheel drive

Mild hybrid engine

All three engine options share the internal combustion bit. This is a 1.5-litre three-cylinder engine with a turbocharger that delivers 163hp in basic mild hybrid guise and only drives the front wheels via a CVT automatic gearbox.

Hybrid engines

The e-Power is a hybrid system that uses the engine as a generator to charge a small battery which in turn powers an electric motor that drives the front wheels. With 204hp and a 0-62mph time of 8.0 seconds, it’s a stronger option that also promises much improved economy and emissions.

Nissan X-Trail dynamic
Full hybrid system is considerably faster than the mild hybrid – something worth considering if you’ll be regularly travelling fully laden.

There’s also the e-4orce, which is essentially the e-Power setup with an extra electric motor powering the rear wheels to make it four-wheel drive. Total power doesn’t go up massively, but the extra traction means all 213hp can be used to get the X-Trail from 0-62mph in as little as 7.0 seconds. There is a small efficiency penalty, but the e-4orce is still cleaner than the mild hybrid.

What’s it like to drive?

  • Super smooth when running on electricity
  • The e-4orce feels punchy
  • Great at motorway speeds

Mild hybrid performance isn’t exactly sparkling with a near 10 second 0-62mph time, and the gearbox is hesitant if you suddenly demand maximum acceleration. We’d upgrade to a smoother and swifter e-Power model which does a pretty good impression of an electric car driven gently, with interruption-free acceleration and variable regenerative braking to help slow the car whilst charging up its little 2.1kWh battery.

It’ll run for short distances on electricity alone if the battery has enough charge, but the engine frequently fires up to provide more power unless you’re driving down the side of a mountain. It’s a quiet unit, albeit one that does send a few vibrations through the steering wheel, and it does occasionally rev away unpleasantly if you need to get up to motorway speeds in a hurry or climb a very steep hill.

Nissan X-Trail dynamic
Low speed ride can be a bit rough, but it smooths out on a motorway cruise.

Single motor e-Power models are brisk enough for family duties while the twin motor e-4orce is deceptively quick. It never feels as strong as the 7.0 second 0-62mph time suggests in isolation, yet it makes easy work of overtakes and short sliproads. Like an electric car, it does run out of puff as speeds approach the legal limit, although sadly it’s not as responsive. Accelerate hard and the X-Trail waits a moment before picking up speed in earnest.

Despite large wheels on higher trim levels, the X-Trail’s ride is for the most part comfortable. While it does stumble over low-speed potholes and patchy road surfaces, it smooths out as speeds increase and is a good motorway cruiser. Opting for smaller wheels doesn’t improve comfort greatly, but you are less likely to curb them.

The X-Trail’s steering has good weight and precision, making it easy to place on the road. It’s fun to drive up to a point, but a brisker pace soon generates lots of body roll and the front tyres soon run out of grip. At least there’s plenty of traction at corner exit and it’s certainly stable, just not something you’ll have fun driving. 

Nissan X-Trail off-road

Even with a wheel or two dangling in mid-air, the traction control keeps you moving forwards and steep, dirt-covered slopes are no issue even with our two nearside tyres on a slippery log. We’ve also sampled the X-Trail e-4orce on snow and ice where, with the appropriate tyres, it generates enough traction to cart you up steepish slopes by varying power front to rear and operating individual brakes.

Nissan X-Trail driving on ice
The e4orce will prove useful in the UK’s bad weather. But it’s not an off-roader in the way a Land Rover or Jeep is.

Impressive as it is, ground clearance and axle articulation can’t beat a Land Rover Discovery Sport. If you’re wondering, e-Power X-Trails can tow up to 1800kg.