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First drive: 2023 Nissan X-Trail e-Power. Image by Nissan.

First drive: 2023 Nissan X-Trail e-Power
The Qashqaiís big brother is here, offering customers the clever e-Power hybrid powertrain and extra seating, but is it the Nissan SUV of choice?

   



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2023 Nissan X-Trail e-Power

3.5 3.5 3.5 3.5 3.5

The latest-generation Nissan Qashqai is a roaring success for Nissan. Last year, it was the UK's best-selling car, pipping the Vauxhall Corsa to top spot. And now the Qashqai has been joined by the closely related X-Trail, which is a slightly larger SUV offering customers the chance to carry an extra couple of passengers. We tested the all-wheel-drive e-Power hybrid version to find out whether it's worth the extra cash.

Test Car Specifications

Model: 2022 Nissan X-Trail e-Power e-4orce AWD N-Connecta
Price: From £41,165
Engine: two electric motors and 1.5-litre, three-cylinder petrol engine
Transmission: single-speed automatic, all-wheel drive
Power: 213hp
Torque: 330Nm
Emissions: 146g/km
Economy: 44.1mpg
0-62mph: 7.2 seconds
Top speed: 111mph
Boot space: 485 litres (five-seat configuration)

Styling

Naturally, the new X-Trail is noticeably larger than the Qashqai, and the styling has had to change to accommodate the extra bulk. As a result, the X-Trail looks a little less aerodynamic than the Qashqai, but it makes up for that by being a tad more muscular in its appearance. There are more angles at the front and pronounced shoulders down the sides, which makes it feel that bit more rugged. While nobody would ever call it pretty, it's far from an ugly mug.

Interior

The X-Trailís cabin follows many of the same principles as that of the new Qashqai, with the whole cabin dominated by the central touchscreen. That varies in size depending on your trim level, but itís essentially the same as the system in the Qashqai. That means itís considerably more up-to-date than the system in the old X-Trail, which was a real weak spot for the car. It still isnít as modern as the Kia and Hyundai systems, but itís much closer than before and itís nice and easy to use.

Which is a bit of a metaphor for the X-Trailís cabin in general. Nissan hasnít fallen into the trap of swapping all the buttons for touchscreen features, so everything is simple and intuitive Ė just the way it should be. And because itís a Nissan, the construction is solid and the materials are largely pretty good, even if there are one or two hard plastics to be found if you look closely. Nevertheless, it feels every bit as rugged as a Ford or a Kia.

Practicality

The X-Trail was built with the sole aim of outgunning the Qashqai in terms of space and capability, so it makes sense to see a big boot and plenty of cabin space. As with so many cars in this class, customers can choose whether they want five or seven seats, although the extra seats naturally come at the cost of boot space. Keep them folded down, though, and you get 585 litres of luggage space to play with, which should be more than enough. If you really need cargo space, however, the Skoda Kodiaq is a bit roomier, but for passengers, the two cars are much of a muchness. Both offer ample space in the front five seats, while the two at the back are a little more cramped.

Performance

A quick glance at the technical data for this car might suggest it's simply a hybrid, but there's a bit more to it than that. With two motors (one on each axle), and a compact lithium-ion battery, this is technically an all-wheel-drive electric car. But you can't charge this particular vehicle up.

Instead, Nissan has fitted a 1.5-litre petrol engine that has no mechanical connection to the wheels whatsoever. Its sole job is to create electricity for the battery, keeping it topped up at all times so the electric motors can continue to drive the wheels. As long as you don't run out of fuel, you never run out of electricity.

It's less complicated than it sounds, but it also feels less efficient than it should be. With official economy figures suggesting you'll get about 44mpg from the e-Power system, it's only about a little more efficient than the mild-hybrid, and you can't help but think a diesel would probably be better on a long run. That said, this e-4orce version of the e-Power is more powerful than anything else in the X-Trail range, offering 213hp and the promise of all-wheel-drive traction. With a 0-62mph time of just over seven seconds, it's more than quick enough.

However, it can be a bit rough and ready at times, which seems at odds with the hybrid ethos. The engine can churn away quite angrily when you accelerate from low speeds, leaving you with an annoying drone in the cabin every so often. On the flip side, though, that drone doesn't increase much with road speed, so at higher speeds and when you accelerate hard, it sounds better than most other hybrid systems.

Ride & Handling

With the latest-generation Qashqai, Nissan tried to inject a little more verve into the driving experience, and that approach has been mirrored with the X-Trail. The new model feels more nimble than before, albeit predictably heavier than the Qashqai. It doesn't roll too much, either, although most of the roll seems to occur almost immediately, which can be a little disconcerting. As with the Qashqai, though, the sportier approach has come at the cost of comfort, and though the X-Trail rides beautifully on certain surfaces, it fails to settle on others. It isn't jarring or stiff in the way a hot hatchback might be; it just bubbles away, even on relatively small wheels with plenty of tyre sidewall to soak up the imperfections. Still, it feels softer and more comfortable than the Qashqai, particularly on the motorway.

Value

The X-Trail starts at just over £32,000 for the basic Visia model with the mild-hybrid petrol engine. That car feels a bit downmarket despite its 18-inch alloys and rear parking sensors, because it goes without the touchscreen infotainment system. Better, then, to go for the Acenta Premium, which costs £33,705 in mild-hybrid guise and £36,140 in e-Power form (although the all-wheel-drive e-4orce commands a £2,200 premium). That car gets an eight-inch touchscreen and smartphone integration, as well as two-zone climate control and a rear-view camera.

If you want more, you can upgrade to the N-Connecta we tested or one of the Tekna models, both of which get a larger touchscreen and a host of other luxury-orientated goodies. The most expensive e-Power model, though, costs £47,155, which is just a few pounds cheaper than the entry-level BMW X3 or the most powerful Skoda Kodiaq Ė the vRS.

Verdict

The X-Trail is, if anything, even better than the Qashqai. The smaller car is admittedly more nimble and arguably better to look at, but the X-Trail feels more comfortable and more spacious. The e-Power system is hit and miss in its execution, and many will find it no more efficient than more conventional engine options, but it's far from the worst hybrid system out there.



James Fossdyke - 21 Feb 2023



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2023 Nissan X-Trail e-Power. Image by Nissan.2023 Nissan X-Trail e-Power. Image by Nissan.2023 Nissan X-Trail e-Power. Image by Nissan.2023 Nissan X-Trail e-Power. Image by Nissan.2023 Nissan X-Trail e-Power. Image by Nissan.

2023 Nissan X-Trail e-Power. Image by Nissan.2023 Nissan X-Trail e-Power. Image by Nissan.2023 Nissan X-Trail e-Power. Image by Nissan.2023 Nissan X-Trail e-Power. Image by Nissan.







 

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