Spare me the mud big brother, Eric Barton lets the Nissan X Trail take the strain.

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The most important SUV in the Nissan range is the Qashqai, but it’s bigger brother the X-Trail is there to serve those looking for something larger. From the completely redesigned exterior to the new engines and chassis, the latest X-Trail aims to offer a more refined drive and better on-road performance than the more utilitarian approach of the old car.

In fact, the new X-Trail owes a lot to the Qashqai as it uses the same platform and mechanicals. The key difference however is size, with a longer wheelbase and greater length creating more space and room for seven seats. Put them side-by-side and you’ll see where they diverge but that familiarity is no bad thing. The old X-Trail was a bit of a boxy affair, but the new one is slick, modern and attractive. It still looks tough and has the raised ride height, but it’s a much classier car that can cut it with posh boys rather than looking like a muddy old farm oil burner. Up front, there’s generous head and legroom and in the second row the space is impressive – legroom is particularly good and the seats can slide forwards or backwards to suit your needs. There are three engines to choose from – two diesels and one petrol. The vast majority of X-Trail buyers will probably opt for diesel The standard 1.6-litre unit has enough power to make the X-Trail feel sprightly, even in fast-moving traffic. The more powerful 2.0-litre diesel has more low-end pulling power, but unless you plan on towing every weekend or filling all seven seats most days, you may not go down that route. The X-Trail’s transformation is completed by the ride quality and all-round refinement. The X-Trail is composed over poor surfaces and is easy to drive with accurate steering and slick controls. It’s not really a car to be hurled about, but it is safe and faithful enough should you want to be a bit swifter in the bendy bits. All versions of the X-Trail are packed with equipment. The entry-level Visia model comes with air conditioning, six airbags, LED daytime running lights and Bluetooth connectivity as standard, as well as those all-important seven seats. Move up the range and you’ll find large, machined alloy wheels, a powered tailgate and luxurious leather trim, but the mid-range models have everything you need and more. The X-Trail has the kind of flexibility and appeal to suit a broad range of customers. Families will love its ability to swallow children and luggage with ease and the fact they can bring their mates along too will be well received. On the other hand, if you’re one of those ‘active lifestyle’ people you can jam it full of bicycles and surfboards, and in four-wheel drive guise it would make a good towing car too.

FACTS AT A GLANCE

Nissan X-Trail OTR prices start from circa £22,885

Engine:1.6-litre diesel unit producing 128bhp and 236lb/ft of torque

Transmission: Six-speed manual gearbox driving the front wheels

Performance: Top speed 117mph, 0-62mph in 10.5 seconds

Economy: 57.6mpg combined

Emissions: 129g/km of CO2

Take a test drive

www.wessexgarages.com/nissan/contact/gloucester/

Tel 01452229120