Punchier 2.0-litre diesel X-Trail is here, but is it more refined than the 1.6-litre?
X-Trail fans have enjoyed the Nissan’s fine handling, affordable running costs and seven seats for the past three years, but they’ve been asking for a larger, more flexible diesel than the existing 1.6-litre to help with load-lugging and towing duties. Now Nissan has responded with the new X-Trail 2.0 dCi – but what’s it like on the road?
The new 175bhp engine boasts an additional 47bhp and 44Ib ft over the 1.6, and also introduces the Xtronic CVT gearbox for the first tine on an X-Trail. This is standard fit on the front-wheel-drive model and an option on the four-wheel-drive car, as driven here.
2017 Nissan X-Trail 2.0 dCi 177 4WD N-Vision
Engine: 2.0-litre, four-cylinder, diesel
Gearbox: Six-speed manual
Top speed: 127mph
CO2/tax band: 149g/km, 29%
There’s little external cosmetic indication that the latest X-Trail variant sports a bigger engine. Even the alloys are the same, as is the single tail-pipe exhaust. This may please some buyers but not others. On the road, the 2.0 dCi sounds no more refined than the gruff 1.6, resulting in vibey pedals at a standstill and a rowdy mechanical noise that increases with the revs. It’s not as bad as in some rivals, though.
The urge starts from around 1200rpm, with the muscle really kicking in above 1800rpm. Keep within the powerband for better towing than with the 1.6, but for low-rev punch the VW’s 2.0-litre TDI is both punchier and sweeter.
On-road dynamics are much the same as before, combining contained body roll, good grip and a balance that errs on the side of safety rather than excitement. The steering is well weighted, and minimal driver input is required to hold a line at speed.
Off-tarmac, the default variable front-to-rear power split mode handles moderately muddy terrain and unmetalled roads with no issue, and traction on tougher surfaces can be enhanced by dialing in a 50/50 split. A class-normal lack of axle articulation and ground clearance counts against the X-Trail on more rutted tracks, however.
Overall ride comfort is mostly good, although the relatively stiff springing – set for strong body control on normal roads – is the transmission of bumps and lumps that’s less filtered than you might expect from something with this sort of ride height.
The cabin architecture shares many basics with that of the Qashqai, and you might question the X-Trail’s price premium over its smaller stablemate. Nevertheless, there are plenty of soft-touch plastics in important areas, and the middle row is more spacious for tall adults. As is usual in this class, the rearmost seats are for short journeys only, or for children. With these folded down, the boot is impressively large, and its stowage is complemented elsewhere in the cabin by big doorbins plus various further cubbyholes and storage areas.
The 2.0’s Acenta entry trim gets a five-inch central touchscreen, while our tested N-Vision has a seven-inch unit plus DAB, sat-nav and a 360-degree parking camera. It’s less visually appealing than the Kia Sorento or Skoda Kodiaq systems, but it’s intuitive enough to use, has a sharp resolution, and features shortcut buttons around its edges.
Lower CO2 emissions, superior economy and a £1700-cheaper purchase price make the 1.6 dCi the more cost-effective X-Trail choice, even if it’s not as big a performer as the 2.0. The latter point is only likely to be an issue if you carry heavy loads and tow a lot of the time. More importantly, the newcomer is undercut by the £30,000 seven-seat Skoda Kodiaq – which is something prospective buyers may want to check out before taking the plunge.