DON’T BE FOOLED BY ITS QASHQAI-ESQUE LOOKS, THIS IS ITS BIGGER BROTHER, NISSAN’S BRAND NEW X-TRAIL. SHARING THE SAME GENEALOGY IT’S JUST AS SURPRISINGLY FRUGAL FOR ITS MORE MATURE BUILD THOUGH AND YOU’D BE FORGIVEN FOR THINKING THAT ITS 1.6 LITRE DIESEL ENGINE SOUNDS A LITTLE DIMINUTIVELY SIZED FOR A CAR OF ITS STATURE BUT THAT’S WHERE YOU’LL BE SURPRISED AGAIN. I’M CONVINCED THAT EVEN WITH A FULL COMPLEMENT OF PASSENGERS AND LUGGAGE YOU’D BE ABLE TO DEVOUR MILES UPON MILES OF MOTORWAY WITH EASE, ALTHOUGH IT’D BE PERFECTLY HAPPY SIPPING FUEL VERY GENTLY ON A SCHOOL OR SUPERMARKET RUN TOO.

In a fittingly unconventional style let’s start from the back, shall we? The new X-Trail is available in a 5 seat or 7 seat option with two seats folding out of the boot floor in the latter model. Whilst you wouldn’t expect fold up seats in any car to provide limousine style leg space there’s ample room for kids and the middle row not only tilt and fold down to create space when necessary (for hauling large objects as an example) but also slide forward and back on rails separately to adjust the available legspace available to all passengers individually which is a neat little trick. Possibly the strongest feature of the folding seats is that they’re easily operated, both up and down, with just one hand which is ideal if you’ve left them up but have a bag of shopping in your clasp. Furthermore, they haven’t sacrificed the spare wheel either, which sits in a recessed area below the floor and behind the rearmost seats. The double moon roof keeps the interior feeling spacious and airy throughout so once your kids are plugged into their iPads you’ll be able to fully appreciate the serenity that this helps afford you whilst on your way.

The Tekna model tested brings a generous serving of sumptuous stitched leather and carbon fibre effect door trims as well as a host of toys such as intelligent park assist (which is intuitive in operation and not half as scary as you might think to operate – if you struggle with parking then this will make you look like a pro), automatic levelling Bi-LED headlamps with high beam assist, moving object detection and blind spot warning, which provides an unobtrusive reminder in the form of a flashing light in your periphery just below the mirror if you’ve got your indicator on and there’s a vehicle alongside you. Of course, if you don’t use your indicator and just pull out you’ll still crash but that would at least serve as a lesson in correct signalling before manoeuvring. Another feature that’s made its way into vehicles recently is the speed limit function which would certainly come in handy locally where those pesky 20 and 30mph zones have seemed to sneakily stretch themselves out a hundred feet at a time without much warning of late. Rest assured though, if you find yourself in a spot of potential trouble and push the throttle firmly down to the floor the system allows you to override the limit until you’ve escaped whatever potential peril you needed the extra bit of speed for. Safety fast!

The clarity and depth of the digital instrument display is staggering and feels a bit like starting into a modern take of the retrofuturistic world of Tron, with clear, simple displays of almost any piece of technical information you could possibly ask for such as the phenomenally frugal fuel consumption figures of around 55mpg. On the subject of consumption, the CO2 emissions are staggeringly low for a car this size too coming in at 129g/kg on the two wheel drive model. Take that and party, SUV hating environmentalists! For those who want the go anywhere safety net that all wheel drive grants you there’s a 4WD manual gearbox version available which would also be an ideal upgrade for those who frequently use their car for towing, the small turbocharger spooling up from around 1500rpm to deliver a healthy punch of torque right down low when and where you need it.

Freelance are the official Nissan franchise locally (and have been for the past two years). They’re based on Longueville Road and also sell Toyota and Lexus. With new salesmen Konrad and Matt on board you can rest assured that there’ll always be somebody there willing to take you through the options of all of the ranges they stock and advise you on the vehicle that best suits your needs.