Nissan lovers will tell you the third generation X-Trail has been keeping legions of families happy since 2013. So a face-light was long overdue and here it is – in 2.0-litre diesel form.
Now, you will find the same engine in the sister Renault Koleos and its best say both vehicles work best with the CVT automatic gearbox than the manual. I found the six-speed in our test car clunky and feeling rather dated.
The infotainment screen is on the small side and low speed ride quality around town ain’t up to scratch. On a long distance cruise it’s considerably better.
At least this 2017 model looks considerably better, with a more angular face, LED rear lights and a smarter interior.
The big Nissan is massively popular because of its flexibility and practicality but don’t expect VW Group standards of finish. You get what you pay for and the X-Trail lacks that quality feel…
Back in the days when Land Rover didn’t have such an exceptional model range, this would have been called a Freelander.
The first generation of that 4×4 was a dog – the second much better. This one is better still and borrows some kudos from the Discovery moniker.
Baby brother to the new, full-fat Disco, this full seven-seater sits on the Evoque chassis and is equipped with the brilliant 2.0-litre TD4 unit. It’s just about best-in-class, with 0-60mph in 8.4 seconds and up to 60mpg (combined).
Our specced up model is £58,183 with a load of extras fitted – it’s still pricey at £43,400 standard…
So here’s the thing. The Discovery Sport slots into the Land Rover range about mid-ways. It’s important to remember that because apart from the pointless Evoque convertible, there isn’t a bad car in the line-up.
The Sport wouldn’t be my first choice, even though it does have an excellent engine and is super versatile. That’s because I think there are better, less expensive SUVs to be had from the likes of Hyundai and Audi.
You are paying a handsome premium for the legendary Land Rover badge but that doesn’t seem to stop people opting for a Disco Sport. The new, full-size Discovery is very similar in looks too – just bigger and even more expensive.
Many drivers will like the lightweight steering of the Sport, which makes it very easy to manoeuvre around town. Maybe I’m a Land Rover diehard but I think it should feel like a more substantial machine, rather than a rather luxurious shopping trolley.
I’ve just spent the weekend bouncing around the new Land Rover Experience at Eastnor Castle, in Herefordshire. It’s rather unusual that they use Defender’s for the exercise – a vehicle Land Rover doesn’t make any more.
Perhaps part of the reason is that currently, there isn’t a ‘proper’ Land Rover that could handle the Eastnore course – used for decades to test Defenders to the limit.
I doubt the Discovery Sport would get that far either, even though it is more than capable in the dirt. Who would have to scuff those 20-inch Aeroviper alloys, or risk a mud bath around the leather cabin?
Until the new Defender arrives, the Landie fleet is rather lacking a rufty-tufty model. The Disco Sport is very much an urban mobile – but its for parking on the pavement rather than a full-on off-road experience…
If we covered the badge on the boot you would have no idea this is a £20,000 bargain SUV.
The 1.6-litre diesel Tivoli is a five-seater with bags of room and go-anywhere ability. Our top spec ELX is £20,000 – and that includes leather seats heated front and rear, reclining rear seats, privacy glass, keyless entry, rain sensing wipers, sat nav, seven airbags, the list goes on and on.
The 1.6 diesel chruns out 115ps and can manage a modest 44.8mpg (combined). There are cheaper models too. Worth your cash? Read on…
It’s called Style – so it must qualify for Car Couture then? No, well, I beg to differ. Ssangyong competes at the bargain basement end of the family SUV market, alongside the likes of the Nissan Juke and Dacia Duster.
Where I live in the Cotswolds, you might think it’s all Range Rovers and Porsche Cayennes. Not so – cars like the Tivoli are actually doing a roaring trade. And that’s because they offer fantastic value for money for people who don’t give a stuff about the badge on the boot.
The Tivoli is also a very capable crossover, with a classy interior and a decent diesel engine that’s a bit rattly but otherwise does the job. Avoid the petrol models, which are underpowered.
There are two-wheel drive models and 4x4s like our ELX. Unless you really need four-wheel drive, I’d stick to 2 and save your cash.
Competition in the supermini SUV market is mighty fierce but this is the best Ssangyong I’ve ever driven. You can even opt for a XLV model which has a larger boot.
I’ve enjoyed my day buzzing around the Shire in the Tivoli. It even has funky red leather insert trims and a sat nav. Safety features include lane departure warning, traffic sign recognition and high beam assist.
So do you really want a bug-eyed Nissan Juke or would you rather turn up at Countrywide in something a little different?
The Model X’s best bit is also its biggest problem. Those gull-wing doors that turn heads whenever the rear seats are required just don’t work as good as they look.
Apart from findlng the right spot to press on the the rather fiddly, ‘Tesla-shaped’ fob, the doors that fly simply don’t open fast enough. And once you’ve got over the wow factor, it’s annoying.
So much so that I took to piling some shoppping bags in the rear via the front doors. I guess you get used to it but after four days I’m struggling.
Some front seat passengers didn’t ‘get’ the windscreen that reaches far back into the roof. They complained that in bright sunlight, the heavily tinted glass didn’t work well enough. Personally, I love the feeling of space and being able to see the clouds.
I also giggled at being able to burn off a Ferrari from the traffic lights. Although to be fair, being a Ferrari driver, he was probably admiring himself in the vanity mirror.
Still loving the Tesla. If only Elon Musk could build a car we could all afford…