The original Nissan X-Trail was launched in 2001. Now, almost two decades on, Nissan is keen to point to that car as being a key player in the genesis of the current crossover breed.

Truthfully, however, the right-angled 4x4 – with its all-wheel-drive-only identity and utilitarian attitude – had as much to do with the traditional SUV as it did with any fast-approaching marketing concept. The first X-Trail’s primary qualification as a crossover rather than a pure SUV is likely its platform, which was shared with conventional models such as the front-drive Primera and Almera.

That MS architecture carried the model through to 2007, when it was replaced by the second-generation car built on the C platform co-developed with Renault. Prior to the current nameplate, Nissan had marketed a small 4x4 SUV dubbed the Rasheen, which was sold exclusively in Japan from 1994 to 2000.

Cut to today and the new X-Trail’s connection to the kind of soft-roader being conceived at the end of the last century hangs by a thread. Sharing much with the all-conquering Qashqai, the car is instead intended to fill out Nissan’s crossover range and sit triumphantly at the summit of the C-SUV segment.

Top 5 Family SUVs

Find an Autocar car review

Driven this week

  • Peugeot 5008 2018 long-term review hero front
    18 March 2019
    First Drive
    Did six months with Peugeot's seven-seater prove it has a place among...
  • Lynk&Co 01 PHEV 2019 first drive review - hero front
    15 March 2019
    First Drive
    Youthful styling on a Volvo technological base make this plug-in hybrid SUV a...
  • Hyundai Santa Fe 2019 road test review - hero front
    15 March 2019
    Car review
    Hyundai’s US-market breakthrough SUV aims for greater European success

To do this, the firm has fitted curves, economy and more kit, and, at the entry level, jettisoned four-wheel drive entirely. For 2017, Nissan gave both the Qashqai and X-Trail a facelift, with the latter getting a sharper looking front, LED rear lights and a more luxurious interior.

The X-Trail’s principal flexibility is now to do with its size. Designed from the ground up to accommodate seven seats, the model replaces not only its predecessor but also the Qashqai+2 – which should tell you everything you need to know about how important Nissan considers its new offering to be.

Save money on your car insurance

Compare quotesCompare insurance quotes

First drives

Find an Autocar car review

Driven this week

  • Peugeot 5008 2018 long-term review hero front
    18 March 2019
    First Drive
    Did six months with Peugeot's seven-seater prove it has a place among...
  • Lynk&Co 01 PHEV 2019 first drive review - hero front
    15 March 2019
    First Drive
    Youthful styling on a Volvo technological base make this plug-in hybrid SUV a...
  • Hyundai Santa Fe 2019 road test review - hero front
    15 March 2019
    Car review
    Hyundai’s US-market breakthrough SUV aims for greater European success