Have you ever met up with an old friend after a long break and chatted away as if you last saw each other just yesterday? Well, this was the feeling I got when I jumped into the facelifted Nisan X-Trail 1,6 dCi 4x4 Tekna. The reason for this is that I spent a year and 20 000 km behind the wheel of the the previous version, creating some frankly unforgettable family memories (watch a video wrap-up of my adventures here).

So, what is new?

Well, not a lot, to be honest. But Nissan has managed to give the X-Trail a fresh look on the outside by adding a new front grille, more modern headlamps and stylish 19-inch alloys. Inside, the steering wheel has also been updated and there have been small changes made to the facia, door panels and leather seats. The result is a cabin that feels more upmarket than I remember.

The good memories

Stepping inside, one soon realises that this is one of the larger vehicles in the overly crowded SUV segment. Rear legroom is plentiful as is space in the boot. If a holiday adventure requires more loading space, then the rear bench can slide to increase load capacity at the expense of rear legroom.

The driving position is excellent, with plenty of soft-touch areas serving to increase overall comfort levels. The supple ride (to the detriment of some dynamic ability) and good cabin insulation endow the X-Trail with true distance-devouring potential, both on- and off-road.

The 1,6-litre turbodiesel powertrain is smaller in capacity than most engines used in rival products, but punches above its weight. It has sufficient oomph once in the meaty part of the torque band and rewards with excellent fuel consumption. A weekend's worth of driving returned an excellent figure of 6,3 L/100 km.

The X-Trail comes with plenty of safety features and the infotainment system, while slightly outdated, is easy to use.

The quirks

As with any individual in a friendship, there are some personality traits that can lead to irritation. One is the fact that the top-of-the-range turbodiesel 4x4 variant does not come with the seven-seat option available on other derivatives.

I furthermore found the turbodiesel engine to be quite peaky, which, in combination with a tall first gear, makes stalling a very real possibility when pulling away. This is also a limiting factor when attempting any semi-serious 4x4 driving, although to be fair this Nissan already falls squarely in the “soft-roader” category.

Summary

I feel that the updated Nissan X-Trail still offers excellent value for money and should be on any family-minded buyer's shortlist. But my advice would be to opt for the 4x2 turbodiesel version (which is thankfully available with seven seats) and save yourself some R70 000. Take it from an old friend of the X-Trail...