It can take any product a little while to find its niche. Take the Nissan X-Trail - specifically this one, the third generation version, a car that back in 2014, finally found its place in the market.
It took quite a time to do that mind you, X-Trail sales in this country going all the way back to 2001 when this model was first launched as a kind of RAV4-style soft roading SUV. Unfortunately, that car wasn't stylish enough to be a RAV, nor were its off road abilities enough to take on the other segment favourite, Land Rover's Freelander. So Nissan tried again in 2007 with a MK2 model that looked and felt tougher, bluffer and more of a practical tool: the kind of thing you'd have thought a compact SUV should be. Unfortunately, most target customers disagreed, the second generation X-Trail hitting its stride in the market just as people were beginning to abandon precisely these kinds of cars in favour of less capable but much smarter and more dynamic crossover models like Nissan's own Qashqai.
It's the Qashqai that's provided much of the inspiration for the MK3 X-Trail we're going to look at here, launched in the Summer of 2014. The two cars share their underpinnings and engineware, while using much of the same technology. Back in 2014, Nissan crossover buyers were adjusting to the fact that the Qashqai could no longer be had in '+2' form with seven seats, these people being pacified by the fact that this larger X-Trail model could now offer that option for the very first time. In MK3 guise, the X-Trail was also better suited to light off road excursions thanks to a slightly loftier ride height and the wider availability of Nissan's ALL MODE 4x4-i all-wheel drive system. In other words, if you like the idea of a Qashqai - as a lot of people seem to - but need something a little tougher and more practical, then this car should prove to be a perfect fit.
If it is, then you probably won't need something capable of crossing the Serengeti - and you won't get it. Forget hardcore SUV Nissan models like the Pathfinder and the Patrol: this car sits firmly in the softer crossover segment, slotting in just above the little Juke and the medium-sized Qashqai in the Japanese brand's growing range. It sold in its original MK3 form until the Summer of 2017, when it was replaced by a lightly facelifted model. It's the original version though, that we're going to evaluate here as a used car buy.