The fourth-generation Nissan X-Trail has been spotted in China ahead of launch, and the SUV is rumoured to feature Infiniti’s high-tech variable compression turbocharged engine for the first time.

According to a report by AutoHome, the vehicle was seen wearing the “300 VC-Turbo” and “4×4-i” badges, suggesting that it will be powered by a 2.0 litre VC-T engine. Power-wise, the engine is capable of developing up to 270 hp and 390 Nm of torque, though the Chinese X-Trail may get a detuned version of that for better fuel efficiency.

First unveiled in 2016, the VC-T engine is among the most advanced internal combustion engines ever created. Its claim to fame is the ability of offer high performance with the torque and efficiency of an advanced diesel powertrain, but without the equivalent emissions.

What VC-T does is it essentially allows the engine to raise or lower the height the pistons reach, allowing for the engine’s displacement and the compression ratio to vary seamlessly between 8:1 (for high performance) and 14:1 (for high efficiency).

It also features two parallel fuel injection systems, one direct and one into the intake manifold, and can switch between the standard combustion and fuel-saving Atkinson combustion cycles. The engine can benefit from hybridisation for an estimated further 10% improvement in fuel economy, though it is unclear if the X-Trail VC-T will get any form of electric assistance.

More details of the X-Trail will be released closer to its launch date. So far, the only other powertrain that is confirmed for the SUV (at least in other markets) is the familiar QR25DE 2.5 litre four-cylinder, now making 184 PS (+11 PS) and 245 Nm of torque (+8 Nm). The mill is paired with a CVT and a choice of front- or all-wheel drive. A hybrid option will be introduced, too.