But the X-trail’s good behaviour record was tarnished when I got home. Nissan has gone to great lengths to soundproof the X-trail, but it still has an unmistakable drone coming from beneath the bonnet. Not really a problem, but suddenly a very loud high-pitched whistle, similar to an old- fashioned kettle boiling, became the principle sound emanating from under the hood. I’ve had to deal with the annoying whistle by turning up the stereo.
Although there was no performance drop-off, we booked the car into Smiths Nissan in Peterborough and it was discovered that a new turbo was needed because of an ‘internal problem’ as yet unidentified until the unit is stripped down.
The new turbo is under warranty, which is just as well, because it would cost about £1,500 to replace. To break down after just 9,000 miles raised more than a few eyebrows here – Nissans are generally pretty reliable.
What raised eyebrows even higher was the replacement time: five weeks to have one shipped from Japan! Then came a sudden phone call – the part had arrived four weeks early and could be fitted more or less at our convenience. On a brighter note, I’ve tested several sat-nav systems during the past year and the BirdView system used by Nissan is undoubtedly the best.
It uses a unique screen view giving a 3-D bird’s-eye view of destinations – hence the name.
On my camping trip I was able to find my way from Stamford to various sites in Cornwall without the aid of a map or directions. By zooming out on the screen, you can see almost the entire country and which direction you are supposed to be heading. Opting for sat-nav is not necessarily the extravagance it used to be as more used car buyers are getting to grips with the technology.
The system here, by the way, comes as standard on our T-spec test car.
I have been driving the X-trail for two months now and am surprised at how car-like the handling is. Some 4x4s feel like a heavy lump of metal, chunky and difficult to manoeuvre, but not this one.
Despite its height, it tackles roundabouts with relative ease, feeling much nimbler than the average 4x4.
There is also plenty of standard specification on the X-trail, such as refrigerated cup holders, integrated safari lights (which I have yet to use as I live in Lincolnshire and not Kenya!), leather seats and a giant electric sunroof.
But for me there are two vital gadgets missing – a rear parking sensor and cruise control. I would readily exchange my safari lights and leather seats for safer parking and easier motorway cruising.
Price (OTR) £23,395
CO2 emissions (g/km) 190
Insurance group 11
Power (bhp/rpm) 136/4,000
Torque (lb-ft/rpm) 232/2,000
Combined mpg 39.2
Test mpg 36.7
Company car tax bill 2004/05 (40% tax-payer) £192 per month
CAP Monitor residual value £8,600/37%
HSBC contract hire rate £452 per month
Expenditure to date Nil
Figures based on three-years/60,000-miles