Diesel give Nissan X-Trail a nice lift
  |  First Published: June 2015

Nissan’s popular X-Trail has been face-lifted in this third generation model. Svelte lines, some impressive frontal treatment and a fair few rounded curves have moved the X-Trail away from its former boxy shape to a far more modern appearance, which has a striking similarity to big brother Pathfinder. Nissan have also endowed the wagon with daylight LED lighting around the headlights for an increased road presence.

Several variants on offer

There are several X-Trails on offer, from petrol 2WD/AWD to diesel 2WD/AWD with the top spec’d diesel AWD, TL, the subject of this review. Nissan have made some interesting changes to the diesel models as the 2WD is available in auto guise, whereas the reviewed AWD is available only as a 6 speed manual. This was no biggy: the clutch was light, quite direct, with the 6 speed gear box a perfect match for the 1.6l turbo-charged oil burner that churned out 96 kW of power, and some 320Nm of torque.

The 4cyl Renault-sourced engine, in fact, is very technologically advanced. It has many innovations, with a high and low pressure exhaust gas recirculation system to substantially reduce emissions of nitrogen oxides and CO2 being just 1 of them. Optimised thermal management also allows the intercooled turbocharged engine to reach an ideal operating temperature in a shorter time, also for greater fuel efficiency.

Efficiency of this nature sees a torque figure of 320Nm, which not only gives the vehicle a fair turn of acceleration once the turbo kicks in, but it sees the new X-Trail with a braked trailer tow capacity of 2000kg, with unbraked trailer rating set at 750kg. These statistics will no doubt suit a lot of small boat owners.

Upgraded interior

Nissan have also upgraded the X-Trail’s interior and it’s refreshing to note that the TL came with (heated) well contoured leather seats with electric adjustment for driver and front passenger, a dash layout with plenty of contrasting grey on piano black with instruments well lit, even during daylight, a 7” central dash touch screen providing 360 degree all-round view at a touch, as well as satellite navigation and other useful functions including the impressive sound system.

Ample digital offerings to keep you abreast of what is going on during drive time were standard, along with the Nissan Connect smart phone integration system, which is virtually mandatory for today’s communication-minded drivers. The TL also sported 18” alloy wheels, an electric park brake, climate air that extends to the rear, power operated features throughout, cruise control, a big sunroof, auto LED headlights, and rain sensing wipers. All important control systems were located on the wheel, as they should be.

The Nissan’s rear passengers (the diesel 4x4 is a 5 seater) were provided with ample leg and head room, as well as the all-important high seating position that is the trademark characteristic of today’s SUVs.

Behind the wheel, I was pleased to note adjustment for both reach and rake, while a decent footrest made driving very comfortable on a couple of the longer trips undertaken. I averaged 8.2l/100km fuel consumption from the 60l tank.

Storage areas are never in short supply within the X-Trail, with compartments in doors, at the rear of seats, the central console area, and there’s a pretty impressive glove box as well.

Stack it in the back

This neat wagon has always had a fine reputation for easy carrying of what we might loosely call ‘gear’; a term that will include — but is by no means exclusive to — things such as the cricket team’s equipment, bicycles, loads of shopping, plus what you and I would love to stack in it: namely fishing gear and/or camping equipment.

Fortunately, the X-Trail tradition continues with both rear seats able to be folded right down and set flat for easy storage of long or otherwise large items within the 550l compartment. Note that the rear floor carpet can be removed to reveal very handy storage bins for soggy or soiled items. Again, very handy.

There’s also a privacy shelf included in the rear and by a bit of clever manipulation there are, according to Nissan, some 18 storage configurations on hand, including the below-floor compartment right at the back, as per the usual X-Trail set up. A 12V outlet is also standard.

Under all of the floor shelving and compartments was a temporary use spare tyre. Not everyone likes these, but a skinny spare is a vast improvement on the self-sealing/inflation kit in place of a spare I found in the rear of a vehicle I once reviewed. Also at the rear is the very convenient 1 touch open/close arrangement of the high opening tailgate, which is a useful adjunct to the X-Trail’s keyless entry setup.

A comfortable ride

You won’t win rallies with the X-Trail, as the ride and handling are more friendly than fierce. This means that few bumps will be felt around the bitumen suburban roads and on the main highways, but gravel roads may well see a few indifferent road surfaces making their presence felt or heard. That aside, the neat wagon will certainly punt in and around the ’burbs with ease, and just as easily go bush for the weekend. With a reasonable ground clearance of 210mm, the X-Trail can tackle quite a deal of off-road work, thanks to the All Mode 4x4 system that controls the balance of power between front and rear wheels. The console-mounted control knob ‘Lock’ option is on hand for the really slippery going.

Safety features include 6 air bags, rear view camera, Dynamic Vehicle Control, traction control system, brake assist, blind spot warning system, plus other features. A 5 star ANCAP rating has been awarded to all X-Trail variants. Nissan offer a 3-year/100,000km warranty, as well as capped price servicing. In all, there’s a lot of innovation and technology to be found both under the bonnet and within the new diesel X-Trail that presents as a very tidy, comfortable and useful sort of SUV. The TL, as reviewed would come home for around the $50,000 mark.

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