Parkers overall rating: 3.8 out of 5 3.8
  • Two diesels and one petrol option
  • Most powerful diesel packs a punch
  • Petrol is pokey, but a niche choice

Diesel fans are well catered for in the X-Trail range – there’s a choice of two, whereas there’s only one petrol option. The diesels make up the overwhelming majority of X-Trail sales.

Nissan X-Trail diesel engines

The two diesels to choose from are called dCi 130 and dCi 177.

The dCi 130 is a 1.6-litre turbocharged diesel engine producing 130hp and 320Nm of torque. Two-wheel drive variants will complete the 0-62mph benchmark sprint in 11.4 seconds and tops out at 112mph, while the CVT automatic version cuts this to 11.0 seconds and is marginally quicker with a 116mph top speed.

Opt for a four-wheel drive version and the run from 0-62mph is taken care of in 10.5 seconds with a manual gearbox, and it’ll continue on to a top speed of 117mph.

The dCi 130 is the most popular engine choice in the X-Trail range, and it’s well suited to the car, with smooth yet punchy power delivery and reasonably low running costs. However, it can be quite noisy if you’re pushing on a bit quicker, which you may need to do with plenty of passengers and luggage onboard.

If the dCi 130’s output isn’t enough, the dCi 177 remedies this with a useful 177hp and 380Nm of torque produced from its 2.0-litre turbodiesel engine.

Four-wheel drive is the only option if you want the six-speed manual gearbox, and in this form it’ll go from 0-62mph in 9.4 seconds and onto a top speed of 127mph.

Want the car to change gear for you? The Xtronic CVT automatic (below) is available with a choice of two- and all-wheel drive powertrains. The former takes 9.6 seconds to complete the 0-62mph run and will top out at 124mph, while the latter takes 10.0 seconds and will run out of puff at 116mph.

While it's better than your everyday CVT 'box, it's still not as close to a dual-clutch automatic like VW's DSG as we'd like. There's still the occasional moment of pushing the throttle and lots of noise erupting without much acceleration, and from time to time the artificial gear ‘steps’ get confused.

DIG-T 163 is the only petrol option

Sitting between the two diesels in terms of power is the DIG-T 163 petrol engine. It’s a turbocharged 1.6-litre four-cylinder that you’ll also find in the popular Qashqai. As the name suggests, it produces 163hp, but a lesser 240Nm of torque than the diesels offer.

Power delivery is smooth and responsive and it’s great around town. You may need to work the gearbox (on manual models) a bit harder on the motorway if you’re planning overtaking manoeuvres – situations such as these highlight the lack of punch compared with the diesels.

Performance is decent, though, with a 0-62mph time of 9.7 seconds and a top speed of 124mph meaning it’s on a par with the higher-output diesel. Two-wheel drive and a manual gearbox is your only drive and transmission option, though.

Handling

  • Safe rather than scintillating
  • Good body control and comfortable ride
  • Four-wheel drive provides all-weather ability

There isn’t a lot to complain about here, but the X-Trail is certainly no sports car. There’s a noticeable amount of body roll through corners and the car can be prone to moving around a fair bit over harsh bumps in the road.

It’s neither as comfortable nor as planted as its Qashqai sibling (the two cars share the fundamental engineering platform underneath different bodies). The X-Trail feels a bit more ponderous, but it rides well absorbing most lumps and bumps in the road, even on the larger 18in and 19in alloy wheels.

The facelifted Nissan X-Trail is a simple car to drive, with a small turning circle, accurate and light steering, and good forward visibility.

On the road, it’s difficult to notice any great differences between two- and four-wheel drive versions of the X-Trail. It’s only inclement conditions that will highlight the desire and benefit to have a four-wheel drive version, or if you plan to take it off-road.

However, the X-Trail is by no means the most accomplished off-roader on sale, so if that’s a priority then look elsewhere as the ground clearance isn’t as impressive as something like a Land Rover Discovery Sport.

If you regularly drive on slippery roads that are particularly bad in winter, you’ll appreciate the security and peace of mind the four-wheel drive X-Trails offer. A rotary switch near the gearlever lets you switch between 2wd and 4wd, although the electronics can summon all-wheel drive in either mode if they detect wheel slippage.