Nissan X-Trail review

Nissan X-Trail review

We get to grips with the impressive all-new Nissan X-Trail SUV – now an electrified seven-seater…

The Nissan X-Trail is a global success story. Originally launched in 2001, more than seven million have been sold globally, making it one of the world’s most popular SUVs. In the UK alone, some 138,599 have found homes.

Now it’s the turn of the fourth-generation X-Trail, marketed as “the only electrified seven-seater SUV”.

However, there’s more to the new X-Trail than the optional extra seats. It’s everything you’d expect from a vehicle with such well-established DNA, but it also delivers state-of-the-art hybrid technology, versatile packaging, comfort and genuine off-road capability.

Nissan X-Trail

Priced from £32,030 to £47,155 and available as either a mild-hybrid or with Nissan’s unique ‘e-Power’ hybrid powertrain, the X-Trail is more than a match for its rivals which include the Skoda Kodiaq, Hyundai Santa Fe, Kia Sorrento and latest Toyota RAV4 (though it only has five seats).

The X-Trail takes design cues from its smaller sibling, the Qashqai, including the brand’s signature ‘V-Motion’ trapezoidal grille.

Wider and taller than the outgoing model, it’s well-proportioned with a chunky, more muscular design. The extra cladding around the wheel arches and bumpers, slim headlights and big wheels (20 inches on our test car) give it real road presence.

Nissan X-Trail review

The interior of the new X-Trail is a big step-up too. Modern, spacious and bathed in light, it has a near-premium feel with classy materials and great build quality.

There’s a commanding view of the road from the comfy seats, and if you do have any qualms about manoeuvring into tight spaces, there’s ample tech on board to help you, whether it’s sensors or a 360-degree camera with Moving Object Detection.

Your choice of grade (from entry-level Visia to top-of-the-range Tekna ) will determine which goodies you get with your car, but we’d say the mid-range N-Connecta which gets the twin 12.3-inch displays up front, roof rails and privacy glass is a good choice.

Nissan X-Trail review

However, if you splash out on the next grade up (Tekna) you get a panoramic sunroof, electric tailgate, head-up display, wireless phone charger and ProPilot Assist with Navi-Link – an impressive suite of safety and driver assistance tech.

The top-of-the-range Tekna comes with 20-inch diamond-cut alloy wheels, a premium Bose sound system with 10 speakers and quilted leather seats.

Equipment and tech is one thing, but the big decision you have to make with the new Nissan X-Trail is which electrified powertrain to choose.

The entry-level option is a 161bhp 1.5-litre turbocharged petrol with mild hybrid assistance, which is only available with front-wheel drive.

Next up is the X-Trail e-POWER, which is Nissan’s take on a full hybrid (no need to plug it in). The drivetrain combines a 1.5-litre petrol engine of 201bhp with a 150kW electric motor on the front axle.

Nissan X-Trail review

Unusually, the petrol engine doesn’t drive the wheels at all – it simply acts as a generator to charge the 2.1kWh battery and power the electric motor, which is responsible for driving the wheels at all times.

The top-spec all-wheel drive (e-4ORCE) powertrain option uses the same e-POWER configuration, but adds a 100kW electric motor to the rear axle, increasing the X-Trail’s power output to 211bhp.

The stats for the three powertrains are predictable. Fuel economy on the mild hybrid is up to 39.9mpg, CO2 emissions start at 161g/km, while the 0-62mph sprint takes 9.6 seconds.

Nissan X-Trail review

The two-wheel drive e-POWER takes eight seconds to reach 62mph and can manage as much as 48.6mpg, while CO2 is as low as 132g/km.

Finally, the e-POWER with e-4ORCE is the fastest accelerating (7 secs), has CO2 emissions starting at 143g/km and fuel economy tops out at 44.7mpg.

Unless you need all-wheel drive, on paper the mid-range X-trail with e-POWER looks like it offers the best blend of performance and economy.

Perhaps what’s most surprising is that Nissan’s hybrid system produces economy figures which are not dissimilar to a conventional hybrid where a battery provides electrical assistance to a petrol motor which drives the wheels.

We tested the flagship e-POWER with e-4ORCE on a mixed driving route, which included some gentle off-roading and controlled automotive gymnastics – and it’s an impressive piece of kit.

Gareth Herincx Nissan X-Trail Slovenia

As you glide off, it’s immediately clear that the new Nissan X-Trail is no ordinary 4×4. The ride is smooth (even with the 20-inch wheels), the cabin is a comfortable and refined place to be, and it feels substantial.

Despite its large dimensions, it’s easy to drive with light and responsive steering. Hustle it a little and it remains remarkably composed.

Body lean is surprisingly well controlled in more challenging corners and there’s superb grip and traction – even on the rough stuff. In fact, it’s very capable off-road, demonstrating a surprising amount of agility in a serious of tests.

Gareth Herincx Nissan X-Trail Slovenia

It takes a while to get used to the sensation of the engine revving away in the background as it charges up the battery. The only time it makes its presence known is when you’re heavy with your right foot, especially on uphill stretches.

Though it’s reasonably vocal, frankly it’s nowhere near as intrusive as full hybrids using CVT transmission from other manufacturers.

Nissan says the X-Trail has a 10,000 times faster rear torque response than a mechanical 4WD system, adding that the constant torque redistribution also contributes to handling and ride comfort, enabling a powerful yet smooth, driving experience.

I’ll go along with that, because the X-Trail is an excellent all-rounder – just as content cruising on a motorway as it is soaking up the worst poor surfaces have to offer.

Nissan X-Trail

What’s more, the X-Trail has always been a favourite with caravanners, so the braked towing capacity of up to 2,000kg will be welcome.

Finally, let’s deal with one of the X-Trail’s USPs – that optional third row of seats. I’m a fraction under six-foot and I could squeeze into seats six and seven, but in order to travel any distance the second row would have to slide forward, which may in turn require some compliance from the driver and front passenger too.

So, I’d say the third row of seats is there for occasional use, preferably children and small adults.

With the third row of seats in use, the X-Trail’s boot has a capacity of 485 litres. In five-seat formation (where there’s ample space for three passengers) this increases to 585 litres, and with both sets of rear seats down there’s a cavernous 1,424 litres of space.

A quick mention too for the rear doors which open at an impressive 85-degree angle (just like a Qashqai) for easy access – useful for lifting small children into car seats, for instance.

Verdict: Smooth, refined, robust and easy to drive, the hybrid Nissan X-Trail is a class act. Offering a unique proposition in the SUV sector, it’s also surprisingly capable off-road and delivers big bang for your bucks.

Nissan UK

Wraps come off the all-new Polestar 3 SUV

Gareth Herincx

2 days ago
Auto News

Polestar 3 SUV

Swedish EV maker Polestar has unveiled its first SUV – a car which is expected to turbo-charge the brand’s sales.

Priced from £79,900, it was also be the first Polestar to be produced on two continents – Chengdu, China and Ridgeville, South Carolina.

Polestar 3 will compete with other electric SUVs in the premium sector, including the Jaguar I-Pace, BMW iX, Mercedes-Benz EQC and Audi e-tron.

Polestar 3 SUV

It will launch with a dual-motor powertrain, which in standard form produces 483bhp and 618lb ft of torque. That’s enough to power the 2.5-tonne 4×4 from 0-62mph in 5.0sec and on to a top speed of 130mph.

An optional Performance Pack adds an extra 27bhp and 51lb ft, shaving 0.3sec off the 0-62mph sprint.

More importantly to some, the long Range Polestar 3 will have a 111kWh lithium ion battery that has a claimed range of up to 379 miles and a peak charging rate of 250kW. It’s also capable of bidirectional vehicle-to-grid charging and features a heat pump as standard.

Polestar 3 SUV

The car’s rakish profile is reminiscent of a stretched Volvo C40 Recharge, while aerodynamic touches include air channels at the front of the bonnet, plus a raised spoiler at the top of the tailgate.

The materials used inside Polestar 3 have been selected for their sustainability credentials. These include bio-attributed MicroTech, animal welfare-certified leather and fully traceable wool upholsteries.

“Polestar 3 is a powerful electric SUV that appeals to the senses with a distinct, Scandinavian design and excellent driving dynamics,” said Thomas Ingenlath, Polestar CEO. 

“It takes our manufacturing footprint to the next level, bringing Polestar production to the United States. We are proud and excited to expand our portfolio as we continue our rapid growth.”

Polestar 3 SUV

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Mazda CX-60 review

Mazda CX-60

We road test the plug-in hybrid version of the classy new Mazda CX-60 mid-sized SUV…

Slotting in above the slightly smaller CX-5, the all-new CX-60 is Mazda’s new flagship SUV.

Not only does it close the gap on premium rivals from Europe, such as Audi, BMW, Jaguar, Range Rover and Volvo, but it’s available as Mazda’s first ever plug-in hybrid.

The Japanese company still hasn’t given up on the internal combustion engine and the PHEV version is a natural progression.

Mazda CX-60

What’s more, plug-in hybrids look like they will get a stay of execution for five years after the sales of new petrol and diesel cars are banned in 2030, so there’s life in the technology yet.

The CX-60 PHEV combines a normally aspirated 2.5-litre four-cylinder petrol engine with a 100kW electric motor and a 17.8kWh battery.

The result is a total output of 323bhp and 369lb ft of torque, making it the most powerful road car Mazda has ever produced, capable of sprinting from standstill to 62mph in just 5.8 seconds.

What’s more, on paper, fuel economy could be as high as 188mpg with CO2 emissions as low as 33g/km.

Mazda CX-60

Offering up to 39 miles of pure electric driving from a full charge, your visits to a petrol station could be few and far between if you have a modest daily commute. And if you’re a business user, considerable tax advantages come with that meagre CO2 figure.

Further down the line, Mazda will also be offering the CX-60 with 3.3-litre diesel and 3.0-litre petrol engines – both six-cylinders paired with a 48V mild hybrid system.

Priced from £43,950, there’s a choice of three plush trim levels – Exclusive-Line, Homura and Takumi.

You can also choose from two option packs across all grades (Convenience Pack and Driver Assistance Pack), while a Comfort Pack is available on Exclusive-Line.

Mazda CX-60

Highlights of the £1,000 Convenience Pack include privacy glass, a 360 view monitor and wireless phone charging, while the Driver Assistance Pack adds extra active safety technology for £1,100.

The £1,400 Comfort Pack includes goodies such as 20-inch alloy wheels, electric front seats, front seat ventilation and heated rear seats.

Not only is the CX-60 PHEV well equipped, it’s superbly put together and the quality of the materials used inside the cabin is excellent.

Externally, the CX-60 is very similar to the CX-5, but can be distinguished by its bold nose, which polarises opinion. Let’s just say that it’s not the most attractive Mazda head-on.

Mazda CX-60

And at just 190mm longer, 50mm wider and about the same height, there’s not much between them in size, though the CX-60’s more athletic stance hides its height a little better.

There’s nothing revolutionary inside the cabin. It’s still very much a Mazda, which is no bad thing.

There’s a large centrally-located 12.3-inch infotainment screen on top of the dashboard, while Mazda’s sticking with its rotary controller near the gear selector. It’s not a touchscreen, and much of the car’s functionality is accessed by a twist and click.

If you’re not used to a touchscreen, it works well from the off, and even if you are, it becomes second nature after a few hours.

Mazda CX-60

Thankfully, Mazda has kept some buttons and dials, so the climate control can be accessed separately and there’s still an audio volume knob. Additionally, there’s extra functionality, such as cruise control via the steering wheel, while the clear head-up display is one of the best.

The cabin itself is spacious, though little different to the CX-5 in the back, so while adults can sit comfortably in the rear, there’s not class-leading legroom.

The CX-60’s substantial 570-litre boot is about 50 litres bigger than the CX-5’s, expanding to 1,726 litres with the rear seats folded down.

The driving position is great, with plenty of adjustment available (unusually for an SUV, it is possible to sit lower if you prefer). Whichever you choose, there’s a commanding view of the road.

Mazda CX-60

If you’ve had your CX-60 on charge (it takes 2hr 20 min via a 7kW home charger), or you have some charge left, it will start off in EV mode.

Unlike some PHEVs, there is a vague whine from the off, but it’s smooth going and, in theory, if you take it easy the petrol engine won’t kick in until you hit 62mph.

The transition from EV to petrol and vice versa is seamless if you’re not in a hurry. However, if you’re heavy with your right foot there’s a little hesitation and the petrol engine becomes more vocal.

There are four drive modes accessed by a selector (Mi-Drive) near the rotary controller – Normal, Sport, Off-Road and EV.

Mazda CX-60

Frankly, Normal is just fine. The driver’s display turns an angry red if you select Sport and the engine can get a little harsh, but it does firm up the throttle response and handling.

Obviously EV will keep you driving in electric mode until the battery runs out, while Off-Road will help you along if the going gets tough.

Mazda isn’t pretending it’s a hardcore 4×4, but the extra traction and raised ride height should help you out on those rare extreme weather occasions.

The petrol engine is mated to a new eight-speed automatic transmission, and for the most part it works perfectly well. However, it can be hesitant on kickdown and hold onto a gear for a little longer on hills. Should that happen, it is possible to manually hurry things along via the steering wheel paddle shifters.

Initially, the CX-60 feels big and heavy, but thanks to that excellent driving position and Mazda’s “Kinetic Posture Control” technology, you soon settle in, and it feels surprisingly agile and controlled in more challenging corners.

Mazda CX-60

There’s plenty of grip and traction, while the steering is light and precise. As with most hybrids, the brakes aren’t the most progressive, but they are effective, and you soon get used to them.

The ride is on the firm side, and even though there’s plenty of power on tap, it is at its most relaxed and refined best cruising along.

As with any PHEV, fuel economy will depend on whether you keep the battery charged up, journey length, speed and driving style. So, while 100mpg is quite possible on shorter runs where the petrol engine is hardly used, your MPG can dip into the 30s on longer trips when the battery charge is used up and the 2.5-litre petrol engine does the heavy lifting.

It’s also worth noting that the CX-60 is one of the few PHEVs able to pull a caravan or trailer with a decent towing capacity of 2,500kg.

The CX-60 is a welcome addition to the plug-in hybrid club that includes some formidable opposition in the shape of the Toyota RAV4, Volvo XC60, Lexus NX, Audi Q5 and BMW X3.

Verdict: The boldly styled new Mazda CX-60 is a class act. Practical, powerful, engaging to drive, generously equipped and well put together with quality materials, it’s very much a premium SUV.

Mazda UK

Final testing for all-new 2023 Kia EV9

Gareth Herincx

3 days ago
Auto News

Kia EV9 - final testing

Kia has released new pictures of its 100% electric EV9 SUV undergoing rigorous testing ahead of its debut at the start of next year.

The EV9 will become the brand’s flagship model and Kia claims it will “revolutionise the large electric SUV segment”.

Developed over a period of 44 months at the Namyang research and development centre in South Korea, Kia says it will “set new standards in design, performance, range, driving dynamics, technology and comfort”.

Kia EV9 - final testing

First previewed in 2021 as the distinctive Concept EV9, it appears the show car’s imposing, boxy design, wraparound headlights and large glass area will make it over into the production vehicle.

The photos show the EV9 tackling various test tracks, including a cobbled surface that rigorously assesses ride comfort and build quality, a high-speed bowl and various off-road exercises.

In addition to the test programme at Namyang, like every Kia model, the EV9 has also been subjected to a punishing testing programme in locations all over the globe.

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Suzuki Vitara Full Hybrid review

Suzuki Vitara Full Hybrid

We road test the new hybrid version of the Suzuki Vitara…

Priced from £13,999 – £21,999 when it was launched in 2015, the Suzuki Vitara was an impressive new entrant in the compact crossover sector. Sharp looks, good value for money, fun to drive and surprisingly capable off-road, it was a great buy.

Fast forward seven years and a new version of the Vitara has been introduced. The big change is that it’s now offered as a full hybrid, as opposed to the mild hybrid that’s been available since 2019 – and the range now starts at £23,749 (Vitara Full Hybrid from £25,499).

The mild hybrid comes with a 1.4 Boosterjet (petrol turbo engine) and a tiny 48V lithium-ion battery stored under the passenger seat, developing a combined 129bhp.

Suzuki Vitara Full Hybrid

The full hybrid system pairs a 1.5-litre petrol engine with a 24kW electric motor, which is fed by a 140V lithium-ion battery pack, giving a combined output of 113hp. Both hybrids are available with front-wheel drive or as an ALLGRIP 4×4.

The Suzuki Vitara Mild Hybrid has a six-speed manual gearbox, fuel economy is up to 52.7mpg, CO2 emissions are as low as 121g/km, while 0-62 acceleration is 9.5 seconds.

The Vitara Full Hybrid comes with a six-speed automated manual gearbox, which is what used to call a semi-automatic. There’s no clutch pedal and the on-board computer picks the gears and activates the clutch automatically.

Suzuki Vitara Full Hybrid

CO2 emissions are identical at 121g/km and it’s a fraction more economical (53mpg), but it takes 12.7 seconds to sprint from standstill to 62mph.

So, in other words, the benefit of the full hybrid over the mild hybrid is minimal on paper. This is largely down to the fact that the electrified system is on the modest side, so it’s more a beefed-up mild hybrid than full-on hybrid.

The battery boost is targeted at lower revs, and although it can travel under purely electric power, it’s really just for manoeuvring or briefly in slow moving traffic, whereas many full hybrids are capable of a gentle mile or so in EV mode.

Suzuki Vitara Full Hybrid

Apart from the larger hybrid drivetrain and a couple of nods to the system in the driver’s display and infotainment system, the rest of the Vitara package is mostly unchanged. However, there is a loss of boot capacity (down from a healthy 362 litres to just 289 litres).

The fact that not much has changed since the 2019 refresh means that the Vitara generally is starting to show its age compared to newer rivals such as the Renault Captur E-Tech Hybrid, Nissan Juke Hybrid and Toyota Yaris Cross Hybrid.

That’s not to say that the Vitara should be overlooked. It’s still a good-looking compact SUV with a four-wheel drive option (unlike its competitors) and it’s well equipped.

Suzuki Vitara Full Hybrid

There are just two trims levels (SZ-T and SZ5), and AEB (Automated Emergency Braking), blind spot monitoring, rear cross traffic alert, traffic sign recognition, adaptive cruise control, smartphone connectivity, rear parking camera, keyless entry/start, navigation and climate control are standard on both grades.

Inside, it’s put together well enough, but there’s a mass of hard, black plastic, and while it’s functional, it’s hardly cutting edge. The 7.0-inch touchscreen infotainment system comes with Smartphone Link, which lets you mirror your smartphone on the screen using Apple CarPlay or Android Auto, but it does have an aftermarket feel to it.

That said, the cabin is packaged well, so there’s plenty of space front and back, it’s comfortable and visibility is good. Just remember to try a version with the panoramic glass roof because it does lower the ceiling a little.

Suzuki Vitara Full Hybrid

On the road the mild hybrid was a joy to drive, largely down to its potent 1.4-litre petrol engine, slick manual gearbox and surprisingly good driving dynamics.

Sadly, the full hybrid experience is blighted by its automated manual gearbox. Put your foot down from standstill and it’s hesitant, while the upshifts generally are slow. What’s more, the engine is vocal at these times, though it soon settles down. In short, the Vitara Full Hybrid is at its best being driven gently.

It also did something we’ve never experienced before. On motorway runs using cruise control with the speed set at 70mph, it actually changes down one, sometimes two gears, when you encounter a slight upward incline.

Suzuki Vitara Full Hybrid

The hybrid system can be set in Eco or Standard mode via a button on the dash, prioritising either fuel efficiency or power. Additionally, in our test car there was a rotary selector next to the gear selector to engage Suzuki’s excellent ALLGRIP 4×4 system.

Thankfully, the Vitara’s handling is much the same as the mild hybrid, so no complaints there. However, it is worth heading off on a good test drive over different road surfaces, because the ride is on the firm side.

Suzuki Vitara Full Hybrid

Otherwise, driving the Vitara Full Hybrid is an easy-going experience with light steering, good grip and well controlled body lean in more challenging corners.

Verdict: The Suzuki Vitara Full Hybrid doesn’t quite make the grade for us, but if good looks, value for money, tidy handling and an award-winning ownership experience are more important to you, then we’d recommended a test drive all the same.

Suzuki UK

Suzuki Vitara Full Hybrid