There are long-term roadworks being carried out on my favourite route to and from Fleet Towers which have entailed much re-routing and diverting along some Fenland tracks.
What excellent fun the X-Trail is. It is not fazed by anything our constantly subsiding roads can throw at it.
This Nissan has excellent visibility and handling but, it must be said, it suffers in the high winds that tear across the open landscape in my neck of the woods.
But I like the high seating position and the support offered by the front seats which are, according to Nissan, 'almost as large as an executive saloon's' – and they feel it. As you would expect, there is loads of room and easy access to the boot area. The back shelf is easily removed and packing our dog and carrying cage in there was straightforward.
The rear step is quite high though, as Jim, our Jack Russell, discovered when he launched himself out of the back in eager anticipation – fortunately we caught him in mid flight!
Included in the dashboard layout is an exceptional feature - two chilled can holders. What an excellent idea. All the dials are clear, tilted towards the driver and in full view. And I really like the brushed metallic matt finish on the heating and audio controls.
On a rare bright day recently I made full use of what must be one of the largest sunroofs going. Actually, Nissan calls it a skyroof which, when open, measures 0.56 m2 so is pretty big. This gives the interior an incredibly light and spacious feel.
With so many fleets tending to lean towards diesel these days – and the Fleet News test cars reflect this – it is slightly disconcerting to watch the fuel gauge of the petrol-powered X-Trail descending before your eyes. The combined urban and extra-urban consumption figure quoted by Nissan is 30.4mpg but Fleet News has not had the X-Trail long enough to check that out. What also needs checking out is a comparison between 4WD consumption and the 2WD version that Nissan claims will be more economical.
I would very much have preferred the diesel engine which also offers a six-speed manual gearbox. But the 2.0-litre petrol engine is extremely responsive and the high speeds it reaches rapidly are incredibly deceptive because the inner cabin noise is virtually undetectable – unlike the Vauxhall Zafira we currently have on long-term test.
Whether or not this is a fleet-friendly vehicle is difficult to say after such short acquaintance but it has to be worthy of consideration if only for the sheer driving pleasure it offers.