|  First Published: March 2009

Nissan have staked a fair bit on the introduction of the diesel derivative of their popular X-Trail wagon, as a lot of motorists are comparing fuel costs with fuel economy and giving oil burners the tick. Especially considering no one can reliably predict which direction fuel prices will go next.

Nissan have actually introduced two diesel models of this popular SUV. Both are powered by a Renault sourced 2L turbo diesel engine but churn out different rates of power and torque. The six speed manual has 127kW of power and 360Nm of torque, quite phenomenal. The auto, which also has a six speed unit, comes with 110kW and 320Nm of torque.

There are also differences in tow capability. The manual comes with a class leading 2 tonne tow capacity for a braked trailer while the auto is limited to 1350kg for a braked trailer. Transmission cooling systems are at play, with the manual having a separate oil cooler for the gear box, and the auto has an internal water cooling system shared by the engine.

Both of the Renault sourced, 2L, four-cylinder inline, four valves per cylinder common rail turbo diesel engines do, however, provide peak torque at less than 2000rpm, which should provide ample get up and go for normal driving purposes.

The diesel models come in two specification grades (same as the petrol models), and both come in at just over $1000 more than their unleaded fuel counterparts.

Reviewed was the auto diesel in TL specs, all bells and whistles with lots of comfort and ease of driving.

The features start with an All Mode (dash) switchable four wheel drive system which provides normal two wheel drive. There is also a four wheel drive option when the special sensors detect wheel slip with a full four wheel drive capability when locked so that drive is distributed 50/50 front and rear. Then there is hill start and downhill assist systems, six air bags, power windows and mirrors, anti lock brakes with electronic brake distribution and brake assist, cruise control, keyless entry, alloy wheels, six stack CD player, trip computer, leather upholstery and wheel, 17” alloys, fog lamps, halogen headlamps, power adjustable front seats, a large sunroof and – last but not least was the much appreciated – climate control air conditioning.

Cruisy DRIVE

The Renault sourced 2L diesel is somewhat clattery at idle but once moving I found the diesel X-Trail wagon to be remarkably quiet and smooth whether punting along in city traffic or highway cruising on the highway at 110km/h. The engine and gear box were compatible, if not breathtakingly willing, and the gear box would kick down or up a gear as required without much fuss.

Given that Nissan might expect that – in view of past X-Trail sales – the majority of people will opt for an automatic version of this compact SUV most are going to find the oil burning auto very easy to drive with comfort paramount in front seating, still ample room in the rear and a very well put together rear cargo area that offers a huge degree of flexibility for users.

Rear seats can be totally folded down to provide an extra large storage area while paired strong, washable, cargo trays can be removed to make extra space or simply left in place to handle the wear and tear of normal use. Valuables can be concealed within them, too, making this system very handy for the user. One could, literally, hose it out! There's also a 12V plug in the cargo space for the camping fridge.

The X-Trail drives very similarly to a four cylinder family sedan as do virtually all of the so called cross over vehicles that are not quite a dedicated four wheel drive but do have all wheel drive capacity. Thanks to McPherson struts and coil springs up front and a well tuned multi link strut set up in the rear the X- Trail's occupants are virtually isolated from all exterior road surface irregularities and about the only sound is a slight hum from the tyres.


Fuel consumption – or lack thereof – will be a big selling point with these cars. With a 65L fuel tank and consumption of between 8-9L per 100km (Nisan claim 8.1 but I could not match that) the diesel X- Trail auto should offer an excellent range between top ups for owners. Nissan's standard 3 year 100,000km warranty is part of the package.

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