Confused? Then take a look at the lead story on page 7 of our September 9 edition and you’ll find that 60% of people think these vehicles should be banned or subject to extra tax.
Personally, I think that while the survey made good copy for the author, it should be taken with a pinch of salt.
After all, the survey didn’t ask people why they hated SUVs. I suspect they do so because of the type of drivers they believe inhabit these vehicles – you know, the wives of snooty middle England stockbrokers taking their little Jessicas and Henrys out into the countryside to their chosen primary schools.
If that’s the case, it’s as daft as believing that all Germans are rude, or that all Americans are gushing and naive.
If, on the other hand, this hatred has anything to do with the fact that SUVs tend to be gas-guzzling monsters, these people are wrong again.
True, some vehicles in this sector have V6 or even V8 petrol engines and achieve well under 20mpg, but no-one could complain about my car with its economical common rail diesel unit, which is at present giving me more than 35mpg.
Of all the things I like about the X-trail – and there are many – the powerplant is the thing I like best. It is a 2.2-litre dCi unit and is both fast, smooth and frugal and can whip this car along at a cracking speed. It isn’t the brake horsepower that impresses but the huge amount of torque.
For instance, at 70mph, the X-trail is only ticking over at 2,500 rpm in sixth gear, which is usually a kind of overdrive. It still has enough pulling power so you don’t have to drop down a cog or two when overtaking.
Once you get used to riding along on this tsunami of torque, the X-trail proves an extremely exciting car to drive. Mind you, like many other SUVs, this car has yet to get its feet dirty. As far as I know after several months on the test fleet, no-one has so much as switched it into four wheel drive mode – or indeed is likely to do so.
It makes me wonder whether it would be better to simply build many of these vehicles in two wheel drive only format and knock a bit off the price.
Price (OTR): £23,395
CO2 emissions (g/km): 190
Company car tax bill 2004/05 (22% tax-payer): £192 per month
Insurance group: 11
Combined mpg: 39.2
Test mpg: 35.2
CAP Monitor residual value: £8,425/36%
HSBC contract hire rate: £452 per month
Expenditure to date: Nil
Figures based on three-years/60,000-miles