What is it like to drive?
You realise what a hulking big thing the X-Trail is when you look back in the car park to remember where you left it. There’s no missing it, with that aggressive front end and high bonnet, but you don’t necessarily feel the car’s weight on the move.
There’s lean through corners, which encourages you to take it that bit easier – it’s not a car that rewards any attempts to hustle it along. Likewise the steering isn’t full of feel, but there's enough that you don’t lose where the front wheels are pointing.
The ride is occasionally disappointing, especially with the bigger wheels, getting noisy over ripples and potholes, and noise creeps in at speed. It’s the only reminder of what end of the market the car comes from, though.
Nissan says the car’s USP is that it’s designed to drive like a proper EV, with just the e-motors in charge of powering the wheels. You certainly appreciate that the electric motors have the guts to get the car moving, not like certain hybrid rivals where the electric bit makes a cameo instead of taking up a starring role.
But does it actually drive like an EV?
The petrol engine is loud enough that you won’t be tricked into thinking you’re driving a proper EV, but Nissan’s equipped the car with its familiar e-Pedal setting that maxes out regen and can bring the car to a stop without you having to hit the brakes.
The one-pedal mode is useful around town once you’ve gauged where the car will actually come to a rest once your foot is off the accelerator. Out on the open road, though, it will merely turn your passengers into nodding dogs and you’ll want to switch to a more gentle regen mode.
Is the hybrid for performance or economy?
The behaviour of the car immediately indicates that the hybrid set-up is geared towards saving fuel rather than adding any particular oomph.
Dump the accelerator and there’s noise, but the only measure of getting faster is watching the numbers on the digital dash track slowly upwards. Take it easy and you’ll be pleasantly surprised at how the car can tickle around town on battery power.