Nissan has acquired a vast experience in building SUV’s which win car loving hearts all over our globe. Their new X-Trail amply proves the point, as well as the Qasqai for that matter. This latest model strikes an ideal balance between looks, roominess, frugality and, last but not least, build quality and refinement. We drove the smooth and silent petrol engined version of this X Trail, with a 1.6 liter four cylinder under its hood, mated to the six speed manual gearbox. A wonderfully refined and frugal combination…well suited to this SUV which is so effortless to drive.
Hans Knol ten Bensel
Nissan stylists did a good job in shaping the latest X-Trail. Boxy contours have made room for fluent lines and excellent proportions. In our eyes, the car looks good from any angle. The cabin is also quite pleasant, attractive with its well chosen patterns and last but not least the quality and touch and feel of the chosen materials. Our X-Trail came with leather covered seats and a wide glass sunroof, adding both a premium aura and extra airiness to the cabin. The dashboard has nicely curved surfaces, and excellent looking instruments, with very elegant dials for rev counter and speedo, together with a fine lettering and thin indicator needles, which all add a subtle touch of refinement.
Everything is well placed, and one soon finds oneself quite at home behind the wheel of the X Trail. Indeed, commands are all at your fingertips, with also the gearlever falling nicely in your hand. The gearbox changes slick and precise, and together with the progressive clutch, is a pleasure to use. The door armrests are also “just right” and make this car effortless to drive for hours on end.
Starting up the smooth engine, one is impressed by its overall mechanical refinement, and, above all, silence and total absence of any vibrations. Indeed, the Nissan engineers did a marvelous job in insulating the cabin from any mechanical noise, whirr or other mechanical fuss, giving the X Trail a distinct premium character in the way it makes its progress.
The 1.6 liter engine is also quite flexible, and develops good pulling power at low revs. As is the case with most modern petrol engines which are of course trimmed to obtain excellent consumption results, the pickup in first gear is somewhat hesitant at small throttle openings, when starting away from standstill.
To avoid this, either one starts away very slowly with barely any power, or one depresses the throttle with rather more boldness and drives away with more vigor, which does not altogether harmonize very well with the “zen” driving style one wants to adopt. We have to live with that I am afraid, if we want petrol engines to score well in the official consumption tests. For the rest, the unit is wonderfully smooth and refined.
It allowed us to obtain excellent consumption results, down at one stage in a mixed trajectory of motorway, ring roads and country roads to a mere 5,6 liters, with an average of 6,5 liters/100 km being easily obtainable. Indeed, the engine is very flexible and allows you to stay in higher gears at legal urban speeds, cruising at very low revs which lets you consume anything between 4 to 5 liters in these conditions, which of course helps urban consumption greatly. The manufacturer quotes 6,2 liters as the ECE average consumption.
Performance is quite brisk with good liveliness in the gears. Indeed, the unit develops 163 HP or 120 kW at 5600 rpm, with torque being 240 Nm between 2000 and 4000 rpm. Acceleration from 0 to 100 is absolved in 9.7 seconds, top speed being 200 kmh. Cruising along at legal maximum speeds is completely effortless, smooth and utterly quiet.
Unfortunately, this smooth engine is not available with the Xtronic CVT automatic transmission.
Handling and suspension: up to the mark…
The X-Trail steers with ease, handles quite nicely on curvy roads and proves utterly stable and relaxing at high cruising speeds. The vast experience of the Renault Nissan group really tells.
The X-Trail runs on the Renault-Nissan Common Module Family platform, and is found also under the new Mégane and the Kadjar, so we really do not need to say anything more…
The X Trail is clearly roomier than the Qashqai, and therefore merits its place in the Nissan SUV model line up. It offers even a 7 seat layout as an extra option. The luggage volume with the rear seat up amounts to 550 liters.
The car we tested had 2 wheel drive, and indeed, many X Trails will run with this drivetrain lay-out. The rear suspension however has the multi-link construction which we also find on the 4WD versions.
Electronic driving aids abound.
This Nissan breathes also in terms of electronic driving aids the know how and expertise of the Renault-Nissan group, and we appreciated in this X Trail the 360 deg surround vision on the 7 inch screen which lets you steer with confidence in narrow urban parking spaces. As if this were not enough, there is also a camera button which lets you have camera view also at the front and the right sides of the car, so you can steer with confidence next and close to high kerbs without having to fear that you will scratch or damage your alloy wheel rims.
Navigation commands are intuitive and hooking up your phone is also a breeze. Connect your I Phone to the USB socket in the luggage box on the centre console, and it will start to play your favoured music which you have loaded on your machine. It is all about having fun, and having a car which is so charmingly easy and effortless in daily use.
A well made car, this X-Trail. A refined and effortless daily companion, which has good looks, plenty of practicalities and top of class space, good handling and above all, drives (mechanically) so smoothly.
Build quality is very good, as is the quality of the materials used, both inside and out. So this X-Trail has what it takes to be your faithful and pleasant companion, for years to come…
Hans Knol ten Bensel