This is the all-new fourth generation Nissan X-Trail (known as the ‘Rogue’ in some markets) now on sale in the UK. In fact, it has already been on sale in some parts of the world since last year, but Nissan held back the European launch until this year, awaiting E-Power and E-4orce tech, which means that we are offered the X-Trail at its potential best, with range-extender style hybrid drivetrain and four-wheel drive capability.
To understand today’s X-Trail, we need to go back a couple of generations of this model. Traditionally, the X-Trail was something of a smaller alternative to Nissan’s big beefy all-terrain king, the Nissan Patrol. X-Trail’s rugged design, and frugal functionality was testament to those aspirations, and its ability on the rough stuff was genuine.
That changed a little with the third generation as it kowtowed to trends and softened to become more of an urban crossover than a rough-roading SUV. With the latest car, Nissan is fusing the two remits to bring you a car that promises to combine both attributes in a new eco-friendly semi-EV package, that’ll just as happily negotiate city congestion as it will climb up a muddy hill.
To this end, it gets a bluffer, more upright front end, and increase clearance between the tyres and the wheel arch, not only to allow for extra suspension travel, but also to give a visual representation of what this car is about. It is physically bigger, and appears mightier and more purposeful.
But it remains truly family-friendly, offering a £1000 seven-seater option, claimed to be the first in the mainstream electrified SUV segment to do so. Prices start from around £32k rising to about £49k. There is a conventional mild-hybrid entry-level model with a 1.5-litre turbocharged engine offering 163bhp and 300Nm of torque. It’ll accelerate to 62mph from rest in 9.6 seconds.
Next up the rung is the E-Power that features a 1.5-litre variable compression ratio petrol engine with linear tune, that doesn’t actually drive the wheels at all. It acts as a generator to charge the on-board battery and provide power to the motor. In terms of sound, it does a good impression of actually driving the car, by correlating the engine noise with the acceleration, but be in no doubt, this car is moved only by electricity. There’s the equivalent of 204bhp and 330Nm of torque and you’ll reach 62mph in 8 seconds.
The flagship offering is the dual motor e-4orce version, which allows the X-Trail to boast four-wheel drive. Power goes up slightly to 213bhp and there’s a bit of help with the torque from the second motor. Acceleration improves by a second, and its fractionally thirstier.
However, you do end up with a vehicle that can negotiate off-road paths, steep inclines and electrics that ensure you have traction when you need it.
With all this tech embedded in this vehicle, you’d think there’d be some compromise in the interior space and comfort. Certainly, at 188cm tall, yours truly made no attempt to get into the third row of seats that consists of seats that can be pulled out of the 585-litre luggage compartment’s floor. Even Nissan admits they’re occasional use seats for humans up to 160cm tall, so they’re for kids really. But the added versatility could prove invaluable when you have guests visiting or need to take the grandparents out. Put them in the second row though, where it’s very spacious and comfortable without compromising room for the front passenger and driver. Likewise, you do feel like you’re sitting in a large and spacious vehicle when you’re at the wheel, with loads of fidget room and intuitive controls.
We drove the top-of-the-range full-spec model, and while you do spend an inordinate amount of time trying to listen out for whether it’s the engine or the motors providing the go-juice, after a while you give up, because it’s virtually indiscernible. It drives like an electric car, which means great instant torque, one-pedal controllability and very smooth power delivery.
Despite huge 20-inch wheels, the ride is astonishingly compliant, the body control is excellent and its off-road ability more than adequate for most driver’s needs. There’s little in the way of sportiness, it’ll keep up with traffic, and is acceptably agile through twisty roads. Plus, the all-wheel drive benefits from additional torque-vectoring that keeps your line tighter than you might expect from something this sized.
Around town it’s reasonably manageable, with sensors and cameras helping you to park and manoeuvre in tight spaces. More crucially it’s very well equipped, and is beautifully crafted inside. There’s a solidity that reassures many years of motoring.
With most aspects of the new X-Trail, particularly in E-Power guise, being plus points, the only questions that remain to be asked are over the nature of that drivetrain. Does it make sense to lug around a petrol engine just to act as a generator to drive what is essentially an EV? Particularly when the average of around 47mpg and CO2 emissions of 140g/km is still significant.
However, it does make that move across to full EV motoring a little easier to adapt too, as you’re dealing with familiarity with a car where you’ll fill up the fuel tank rather than plug it in. Admittedly this technology does not have a long-term future, it’s a transitional solution.
Whether it’s an acceptable compromise is for each buyer to consider personally. That aside, you have a robust and great do-it-all family vehicle, that appears to take the X-Trail nameplate back to its roots, and frankly, that’s a good thing.