As the expert panel of judges huddled together in their enclave back in January this year, my money in the Best SUV sector was firmly on the Nissan X-trail.
I had already driven the car in petrol format and now with a cracking 2.2-litre dCi unit under the bonnet, it must have been in with a chance.
In the finish, the prize went to another worthy contender the Volvo XC90 and the X-trail picked up a Highly Commended tag.
But I bet there was some tough talking before the Japanese contender was pipped at the post. I have been driving our long-termer now for two months and as time goes by I am becoming more impressed with its performance.
Its looks are stunning and despite its un-aerodynamic shape, the car is still returning 38.6mpg.
You wouldn’t put this car down for an ideal long distance motorway cruiser – and that’s where you’d be wrong.
I took a trip down to Bournemouth last weekend – a round journey of some 500 miles – and despite only stopping once on the way down, I ended the sojourn in complete comfort and with no aches and pains to show for it.
The other great thing about the X-trail is its practicality.
I had a great heap of junk in my garage that needed taking to the local tip recently and with the rear seats folded down, I managed to clear the lot in two goes.
And there was no need to worry about muck and grime, as the X-trail’s rear has a plastic finish which can be wiped clean easily when necessary. Like most who will drive an X-trail, I have yet to try it out in the rough. Mind you, I could have done with this car a few weeks ago when the roads around Peterborough were awash with water.
It was back in August and I had just returned from a trip to Ireland in our Audi A4 Avant. I got as far as Oundle on the A605 when I was confronted by a swathe of water across the road about 20 feet wide.
As I didn’t know how deep it was in the middle, there was no way I was going to risk trying to get through.
I suggested to my lady friend that she might like to test the water by wading in but she rather impolitely declined, so there was no option but to go back and try to find a way home via the country lanes.
Now if I had been driving the X-trail I would have pitched in with gusto. Trevor Gelken
Nissan X-trail 2.2 dCi T-spec
Price (OTR) £23,395
CO2 emissions (g/km) 190
Company car tax bill (2004/5) 40% tax-payer £192 per month
Insurance group 11
Combined mpg 39.2
Test mpg 38.6
CAP Monitor residual value £8,575/37%
HSBC contract hire rate £443 per month
Expenditure to date £180 (exc VAT) service