Beam me up, Scottie – Nissan GT-R is not the light fantastic

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Headlights – even supercars have their flaws. The Lamborghini Huracan features a dip/beam button on the steering wheel that your fingers can’t locate in the dark – the Audi RS7 Performance is equipped with a main beam that takes longer to flick on than Trump’s brain.

The GT-R’s issue is slightly more worrying. The dip beam is not adjusted corectly, so oncoming drivers are constantly flashing their annoyance in your face.

Just adjust the headlights, right? Well, I can’t find any mention of adjustment in the manual and there is nothing on the dashboard.

Frustrating and mildly dangerous.

And while we are on the subject of lights, the Nissan has flush door handles – an aerodynamic triumph, except you can’t locate them when approaching the car in the dark because they are not illuminated.

Silly. Remind the dealer about that when you are haggling ot the £80k pricetag…

Nissan GT-R – not for brand man, for individualists

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In this age of common platform manufacturing and even commoner brand identity ” it’s no surprise that motor cars have been accused of ‘all looking the same’.

I mean, head-on in your rear-view mirror, can you tell the difference between an Audi A4, 5 or 6? BMW and Mercedes are especially flawed in this area.

If you want to be part of the middle class ‘gang’ then you need an aspirational vehicle to match. Thus the owner of a BMW 1 Series can feel the same brand attachment as a 7 Series driver.

Which is why cars like the Nissan GT-R are important. Yes, it costs around £80k (not far off the unique and very individual BMW i8, or the Audi R8 for that matter) but there’s no mistaking what is in your rear-view mirror.

And it should be applauded for that – instead of being a BMW M4 ,which will always look like a rep’s standard 4 Series however many spoilers BMW bolt onto it.

Has the Nissan GT-R gone soft? Lord P thinks so…

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Lord Pembroke likes his cars. He stills owns a Nissan Skyline – one of his favourite motors, alongside the Bugatti Veyron and gull-wing Mercedes in his cavernous garage.

After an intervew about his Wilton Classic & Supercar Show in June (www.wiltonclassicsupercar.co.uk) at his home in Wiltshire today, he insisted we went for a wheelspin in my Nissan test car.

Verdict? Well, he spotted the revised suspension set-up, the improved interior and a surge in performance but overall, he though the GT-R had gone a little soft.

Just like the Porsche 911 he owned ten years ago, Lord P says the Nissan had lost its soul and felt rather detached.

Incredibly quick, yes, but then as another motoring writer once put it – it’s not how fast a car goes, it’s how it goes fast…

The Nissan GT-R – fast but all the style of Trump’s haircut

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So, what’s new about the GT-R in 2017? Well, it still looks both musclebound and ridiculously bling, sporting all the style of Donald Trump’s haircut.

However, the good news is that the twin turbo’s power output is up 20bhp, the cabin looks like it is now made of something decent – and the ride feels somewhat smoother.

That’s all good then – especially the interior upgrade which finally brings the Nissan into the right millennium. There’s extra soundproofing and minor tweaks to bodywork too, making this the most significant upgrade since the current GT-R was launched in 2007.

Don’t go thinking the GT-R has gone soft just because they have eased off the suspension a bit. Just two minutes down the road and I know the Nissan is going to be 7 days of sheer fun.

More tomorrow…

Is there actually a car designer out there who can pen a decent looking SUV?

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Beautiful cars are few and far between these days. Take BMW. Brilliant vehicles on nearly every level but I’m not sure even the M5 of M6 truly take my breath away. I’m prepared to haggle over the Z4.

The latest Audi TT looks dull, the current Porsche 911 isn’t as mouthwatering as the previous 997 and Ford has cunningly borrowed the nose off an Aston Martin in an attempt to make the Mondeo interesting. Fat chance.

And so we arrive at the Nissan X-Trail. Yes, it does look like a BMW X3 from some angles and the funky rust colour of our test car is better in the metal than it looks in our photos. But will you really get a buzz seeing it parked on your driveway every morning?

Somehow I doubt it. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder but surely there’s a car designer out there somewhere (please God!) who can make an SUV look appealing? Having seen the new Bentley Bentayga, perhaps not…

What car would Jeremy Corbyn drive to Downing Street?

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So if I was picking an SUV for Jeremy Corbyn to drive it would be the Nissan X-Trail. Not too flash, very workmanlike and room for six colleagues from the Shadow Cabinet (OK, four because that third row of seats in tiny).

Nissan also has strong links to Britain with their Sunderland plant, plus he needs to boost his ‘British’ credentials doesn’t he?

 

I can see Cameron in a Range Rover but Corbyn? No, he definitely an X-Trail man, Except his would be in a gaudy shade of red, rather than the rust colour of our test vehicle this week.

I somehow doubt Corbyn will still be leader the next time Labour is in Downing Street. Maybe Corbyn would turn up on his bike and ditch cars altogether. We’ll have to wait and see..

The Nissan X-Trail is no longer a box on wheels – at last it has some cache

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The original X-Trail was something of a box on wheels. It was utilitarian on the inside and less than exciting to drive. People bought them in vast numbers because the Nissan was cheap and came with plenty of standard equipment.

Our latest version may not boast German standards of trim quality and image cache but it does represent a huge leap forward from the previous generation model.

This is especially true on the inside. The dashboard finally looks like it was designed to please the eye – rather than something made out of leftover parts from another vehicle in the Nissan range.

And while the seats are not clad in leather (even in our top spec n-tec model) they are supremely comfortable. Soft but somehow supportive in all the right places.

The Nissan X-Trail’s third row of seats is really for kids only

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Perhaps England would be better playing rugby sevens? Incredible how our national squad can snatch defeat from the jaws of victory against a team riddled with injuries. Well done Wales.

With this in mind and with England’s chances of beating Australia looking less than 50-50 next Saturday, maybe team sponsors Land Rover will pull out – leaving the door open for another four-wheel sponsor to slip in?

The X-Trail has seven seats, it might do our over confident players good to sample the delights of a Nissan, rather than the more upmarket Land Rover brand. I think I’d enjoy watching seven, 15 stone-plus men trying to squeeze inside an X-Trail too.

That third row pair of seats is really only for occasional kids – otherwise consider this SUV best used as a very roomy and comfortable five-seater.

 

Would you be happy to pay £30,000 to own a Nissan X-Trail?

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The Nissan X-Trail may be styled like a premium brand machine but some of the trim comes from the bargain basement.

The long list of standard kit on this top spec model is impressive. The panoramic sunroof, auto headlights, sophisticated sat nav system – on paper it reads like a £30k car.

But the problem is the X-Trail doesn’t ‘feel’ premium. The seat materials, steering wheel, button and dials just aren’t that pleasant to the touch.

I can’t fault the X-Trail for practicality, It’s spacious, comfortable and I’m averaging 36mpg in the everyday slog.

Somehow though, I can’t imagine ever paying £30k for the privilege of driving it. Opt for the £23,000 entry model and it starts to make sense…

Is that a BMW X3? No is the latest Nissan X-Trail

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You have to look twice with the X-Trail. Unlike the pig ugly Juke, the family-orientated Nissan is starting to look more German than a BMW.

It’s surely no coincidence that the latest X-Trail has gone all curvy and upright like BMW’s X crossovers. Just add in a funky bronze colour like our test car and suddenly it even has an air of premium motor about it.

Underneath it’s a different story. The X-Trail shares the same platform as the Qashqai (a name I still have to look up every time I write it).

And while it’s some 90kg lighter than the old X-Trail, that 1.6 diesel engine means performance is left wanting. A petrol model is coming but really, you won’t be buying this SUV for on-road thrills.

Still, first impressions matter and I find the X-Trail easy on the eye. More from inside the cabin tomorrow…