With seven seats, loads of space and a whopping boot, Nissan’s X-Trail crossover has all the hallmarks of a workhorse.
But slot in a turbocharged petrol engine and it transforms into a racehorse.
Out has gone the boxy squared-off lines of its predecessor, and in has come a smoother, more flowing style seen in the sister Qashqai vehicle. 
Despite its chunky, macho 4x4 looks, the test model with its lively 1.6-litre four-cylinder turbocharged petrol unit – the most powerful engine in the new X-Trail range – is only available in two-wheel-drive.
The DIG-T 163 engine, already popular with Qashqai buyers, is mated to a six-speed manual transmission to deliver an agile, smooth and responsive drive.
Reining in the 163 horsepower is a mass of technology including everything from forward emergency braking, driver attention alert and traffic sign recognition, to lane departure and blind spot warning.
Another neat system combines the vehicle’s front and rear parking sensors with a ‘bird’s eye view’ parking aid to deliver an extra level of protection. If, when stationary, something moves into the area covered by the four cameras, the system will give an audible warning and highlight the area in which the moving object is detected.
Mounted on the tailgate and having a fish-eye lens, the rear wide-view camera displays images on a seven-inch dashboard colour touchscreen.
After dark, the X-Trail’s headlights use a high-resolution camera to detect when to switch automatically back and forth from low beam to high beam.
Built on a platform developed with Renault, the X-Trail is 17mm longer than the previous generation model, and has a 76mm longer wheelbase that helps deliver more space inside. The new model is also 30mm wider and slightly lower than the previous car.
Use of ultra high strength steel along with composites has also helped drive down the X-Trail’s kerb weight by 90kg. The tailgate, for example, is constructed from plastic rather than steel, while the front and rear bumper assemblies are lighter.
To help drivers go further for less, the new engine is also equipped with a start/stop ignition system.
Nissan says the car, which is available in four trim levels, was designed from the outset to include the optional seven-seat format, with a raked ‘theatre seating’ layout that ensures every passenger has a good view.
All models come with air-conditioning, alloy wheels, Bluetooth with microphone and cruise control.
The test car’s cabin was also fitted with the latest-generation NissanConnect system that quickly links to a smartphone and gives access to a range of apps covering music, social networking, entertainment and travel.
The latest generation satellite navigation integrates Google features to reveal a host of useful information from weather forecasts to the location of fuel stations, hotels, restaurants and many other points of interest. A send-to-car function also allows you to plan a trip at home and send it to the car at the click of a button.
Other nice touches are luxuriously thick pads on the door armrests and centre console; a large between-the-seats storage box big enough to take an iPad or 10-inch tablet and a large, powered glass panoramic roof.
And because Nissan understands all about horses for courses, there is also a full-on four-wheel-drive option, with a turbodiesel delivering a thumping 130 horsepower. 

Auto facts

Model: Nissan X-Trail 1.6 DIG-T n-tec
Price: £27,135
Insurance group: 20E
Fuel consumption (Combined): 44.1mpg
Top speed: 124mph
Length: 464cm/182.6in
Width: 183cm/72in
Luggage capacity: 19.4 cu ft
Fuel tank capacity: 13.2 gallons/60 litres
CO2 emissions: 149g/km
Warranty: Three years/60,000 miles