The small production diesel engine has come a long way since the original X-Trail, and the outputs achieved by the 2.0-litre engine would have been unthinkable a decade ago. It’s so accomplished that Nissan only offers its 2.0-litre dCi turbodiesel in the X-Trail, in either 171bhp or 148bhp - the latter mated to a six-speed auto - outputs.
The larger power version gets the X-Trail to 62mph in a respectable 10 seconds, the lesser endowed automatic taking 12.5 seconds.
On the move the turbo is quick to spool up, so you can dip into the torque as and when you need it. On the motorway, that translates to realistic acceleration without needing to change down a gear. Like any turbodiesel engine you have to keep it on song, but with a surprisingly enjoyable gearshift this is rarely a chore. Life is relatively tranquil inside, too.
A turbodiesel engine that produces 171bhp and emits 15 percent less CO2 over its predecessor normally suggests a lack of low-end torque and lost driveablility. In the X-Trail there are no such concerns. The 171bhp diesel is mostly subdued, smooth and reasonably potent. A slick six-speed manual gearbox allows progress brisk enough to test a chassis that’s tidy, supple and lightly entertaining. The engine will happily pull from idle (800rpm) in third at 15mph, and starts spinning strongly from around 1500rpm, which translates to a winning combination of relaxed urban and motorway driving and good economy.