to ensure most buyers can get just what they want. Prices start at £22,855 though my test model was a flagship N-Vision version which in seven-seat form and optional pearlescent paint was priced at £33,715. It had a 2.0 litre 177 hp diesel unit with 6-speed manual gearbox and switchable 4WD. The 0-60 mph time is 9.4 seconds, top speed 127 mph and fuel consumption 50.4 mpg combined. The X-Trail has always looked good

with eye-catching muscular styling and premium appearance thanks in part to a large and distinctive grille and elegantly sculptured lines. Inside, the good impression continues with a neatly designed dashboard, comfortable supportive seating and quality trim materials throughout. It also scores highly for occupant and luggage space.

powered tailgate gives access to a large boot with 445 litres of space, expandable to a massive 1,982 litres with all seats folded.

Standard equipment on the N-Vision test car included four ON THE ROAD, THE X-TRAIL


power windows, auto lights and wipers, dual-zone climate control, cruise control with speed limiter, front and rear parking sensors, Around View Monitor using front side and rear cameras, 7-inch touchscreen infotainment unit with sat-nav, 19-inch alloys wheels, panoramic glass roof and leather seats. On the road, the X-Trail drives well, with assured handing and a comfortable ride. The 2.0 litre diesel engine is smooth

Five adults can travel in comfort and as the middle row of seats slides, the two third-row seats are more roomy than you might expect, offering decent leg and headroom. The

and responsive though I did find the 6-speed manual gearshift had a rather notchy action, my only adverse comment on this superb model.

VoLKSWAGen Alltrack estate

THE BIG-SELLING VOLKSWAGEN GOLF HAS BEEN THE BENCHMARK FAMILY HATCHBACK FOR MANY YEARS, ADMIRED AND RESPECTED FOR ITS STYLE AND DURABILITY, BUT FOR THOSE WHO REQUIRE MORE SPACE AND VERSATILITY, THE GOLF ESTATE IS THE ANSWER. Recently revised and given a cooler, more classy look, the Golf estate now costs on average £650 LESS than the previous model, despite upgraded equipment and new engine options. Prices start at £19,470 for the well-kitted S version. However, many VW buyers are prepared

to splash out on higher-spec models laden with extra technology, convenience and luxury features which send the flagship versions beyond £30,000. This was the case with my Alltrack

all-wheel-drive version, which in 181 hp 2.0 litre diesel form and 7-speed auto gearbox costs £31,060. For that you get a raft of extra features including adaptive cruise control, climate control, sat-nav with 8-inch touchscreen, more connectiveity features than I have the space to list, 17 inch alloys, roof rails, front and rear parking sensors and reversing camera, a wealth of safety features. The more distinctive new look adds elegance to this estate

model, and its driving feel quickly underlines the good im- pression this car creates Smooth, quiet, refined, responsive, it ticks every box. The auto gearshift is seamless and has an eager kick-down for immediate power when required. The steering is precise, the suspension (raised on the Alltrack for more ground clearance ) is still well balanced for cornering


grip yet supple ride quality. The 2.0 litre engine 181 hp engine

gives sports-car acceleration – 0-60 mph takes just 7.8 seconds, with top speed 132 mph. Fuel economy is 54.3 mph combined. The cabin is straightforward rather

than eye-catching, but everything is easy to find and use. Space for four

occupants is very good and while there is room for a fifth, the gearbox tunnel hump would make long trips a tad cramped. At 605 litres, boot space is among the largest in the class, and boosts to 1,620 with the rear seats folded. As a stylish practical family estate, there is little to fault

on the Golf Alltrack estate. While the centre rear seat lacks legroom and the rear seats don’t fold fully flat, such mat- ters pale when you consider the superb build integrity, enviable reliability record and strong re-sale values.•

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