The Nissan X-Trail is the one of the practical 4×4 choices for the everyday family adventurer. It doesn’t hold the prestige of Land Rover, but it a step up from the basic 4×4 SUV’s and Crossovers we’ve become accustomed to seeing on British roads. I spent a day with Nissan in the Black Forest of Germany, putting the new 2.0 diesel engine through its paces in a working quarry. Needless to say, off-road fun was had.
We started the day in Zurich, winding our way out the city in the frozen mist of early morning. As we rose out of the urban areas, towards the Black Mountains and into an increasing amount of daylight, the mist lifted, providing us with a bright vista across to the Alps and neighbouring Switzerland. Trees lined the horizon, and our venue for the day, a working quarry, was clearly not far away.
Indeed the backdrop was mightily impressive – the layers of mist below adding to the spectacular landscape. Congregating at base camp, we had our briefing for the day and realised the challenges ahead would showcase a good range of both the X-Trail’s inherent capability and the added power of the new 177 PS engine. Providing 380Nm of torque and twinned, for the first time, with the Xtronic CVT transmission with 4WD, I was confident the challenges ahead would be handled with ease by the car. We all agreed that morning coffee with this kind of view is what driving adventures are all about.
Navigating the bumpy forest roads in the new X-Trail was a delight, and what immediately stood out was the ride quality, comfort and ease with which it swallowed up the rough terrain. The new 2.0 Diesel has an ‘expedition focus,’ and is billed as the perfect adventurous vehicle for the family segment, with added versatility in terms of towing and an ability to make short work of different road surfaces. What’s especially nice in the X-Trail is the ‘theatre view,’ meaning that if you have all 7 seats occupied, everyone can see, as the viewing angle is set above the front passenger’s heads.
We took the car through water splashes, down forest tracks and up treacherous quarry roads, being greeted with a welcome coffee in the sun at the end of ‘Only the Brave,’ an enjoyable (and quite high) track through the middle of the quarry. Lunch was served from a BBQ at Base Camp, with a stunning view towards endlessly green landscapes and diminishing tree-lines.
Levels of grip, ride comfort and the extra grunt the 2.0 diesel provides is enough to strongly recommend this car to those with a lot of stuff to lug around, a large family or onerous towing requirements. The 1.6 diesel engine provides, in Nissan’s terms, a good opportunity for previous owners of heavyweight 4WD cars to adapt to a more frugal lifestyle. However, if you really need the power many of the X-Trail’s rivals offer, it makes sense to move towards this version, which offers 150kg more towing capacity (auto version > 2 tonnes) and compares well economy wise to the 1.6, with manual variants of the car offering 48mpg. Refinement doesn’t feel quite as spot on as the 1.6 diesel, and there was a fair bit of roughness in high revs and general cabin noise, but as most of these cars should spend most of their time in muddy fields and offering much needed low-down torque, this won’t deter the buyers that Nissan claim are lining up for the higher power version of the X-Trail.
Since 2014, there have been 110,000 X-Trails sold, but as far as diesel power plants, there was talk from many quarters that the 1.6 just didn’t quite cut it in the segment. This 2.0 version delivers, for bigger adventures, for more family trips and for more lengthy road trips and expeditions where comfort and low down power is the name of the game. The more powerful Nissan X-Trail does make sense. I had a great time putting it through its paces in Germany – it deserves to do well amongst a buying segment that needs something with a little more kick.