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Nissan X-Trail; Grown up medium SUV

Introduction:

Like most medium SUVs the Nissan X-Trail has grown up a lot now that’s it into its third generation. Growing up includes getting bigger but also getting better.  The latest model comes with a lot of good features and a wide range of models.

It’s in the medium SUV class which currently is lead by the Mazda CX-5, followed by the Toyota RAV-4, the Subaru Forester and in fourth place is our Nissan X-Trail. To help us understand what the X-Trail is all about I have on the line Brent Davidson from the Newcastle Herald and the Illawarra Mercury.

Good day Brent.

Brent:                  Good day mate how are you doing?

David Brown:       Top of the world mate, top of the world.

Brent:                  You’re on the top world because you’ve been out four wheel driving your Nissan X-Trail press car I know.

David Brown:       Yes it’s a lovely car and it’s paid for by someone else.

Brent:                  It’s not quite a four wheel drive is it though.

David Brown:       In fact it’s got slightly a lower ground clearance than the model it replaced.  In fact the Subaru Forester has 10 millimeters more ground clearance than this one.  I always thought of the Forester as a car that has grown up a bit into a SUV rather than some of these others that are SUVs trying to grow down a bit into a car. Here it is the Subaru Forester has more ground clearance.

Brent:                  I think the clue here is in the X-Trail’s name and that being the X for crossover. We’re moving away from bland people movers and station wagons.  This isn’t my description by the way I’m quite a fan of people movers and station wagons. We’re moving away from those and we’re also moving away from the kind of heavy duty four wheel drive.

We get this cross piece which brings us into something which looks a little bit macho and it feels a little bit soft when you drive it. It’s a bit of a blend. You can walk the walk but you can’t have the talk the talk if you don’t want it.

David Brown:       If you don’t want it. It does look a bit macho.  I think it’s got almost the American bull nose strong nose, grill sort of front to it. From the side it looks a bit more like a station wagon which I think is good.

Brent:                  I think it’s quite a handsome car. It’s moved well away from basically 90 degree vertical and horizontal lines of the previous model which were extremely popular by the way.

It’s got this kind of almost sot of a Euro chic to it. For me I saw the car unveiled in Europe and it looked right at home amongst all the Euro cars around it. It looks good and it feels good on the road to me.

David Brown:       And it’s good room inside.  I found the driver could easily get into it. It’s not good if you get the few models that are available with the third row seats.  That’s very small the third row seats, it’s really for very small kids.  The rest of it for the driver and that I thought the room inside was very good.

Brent:                  Yes I agree with you on the third row of seats in a car that’s not all that big really.  I think they’re trying to do all things to all men type deal. It’s not quite 4.7 meters long that’s not even a BE station wagon, it’s certainly not a BE’s people mover.

If I was spending my bucks I would leave the third row out and go for a bit more spaciousness as you say. It just feels a little cramped and it even looks a little cramped with that other row in there.

David Brown:       Yeah. We tried to get the 14 year old in there and his knees up around his ears sort of thing.  It was not easy.

Brent:                  Yeah.

David Brown:       It comes with three engines.  The two liter that’s only available in the very base model manual. Then it’s got a 2.5 liter four cylinder petrol, and then a diesel as well a 1.6 liter diesel. How did you find the 2.5 liter four cylinder petrol?

Brent:                  I think two and a half liter petrol engine is the peak of them I think. The two liter engine and the 1.6 diesel are just a little underpowered.  The diesel is just a bit too much car for the engine or with the two liter petrol it’s just a bit too not enough engine for the car if that makes any sense. It’s kind of a thing you feel when you’re drive it rather than trying to explain it.

David Brown:       Not a lot of talk in the engines 200 Newton meters for the two liters and 226 for the two and a half liter. The diesel’s 320 as you would expect it to be much more.  I must say and I’ve got say this immediately the diesel engine was just so slow off the line.

If you’re pulling into a stream of traffic from a side street from stop it was uncomfortable. Do you put your foot down all the way to the floor even and it just felt like it was in third gear trying to take off what I thought was a CVT transmission.

Brent:                  I was going to ask. You spent time with the diesel and I haven’t done anymore than a cursory drive really if it was a CVT. I remember on launch I drove the diesel manually it felt reasonably sparking.

The CVT on the other hand I’m not a fan of Nissan’s CVT in X-Trail.  I kind of prefer a regular automatic transmission with proper gears for that car.

David Brown:       It seemed to rev around a bit. It didn’t feel as comfortable with the engine as it might have been.  Of course you can get the manual gear box at the very base model two liter petrol or on the very highest model which is rather unusual which is the diesel. You can get a manual with that as well so it’s rather an unusual arrangement there.

I think it would have worked better with the manual gearbox with the diesel engine.

Brent:                  I can only agree but again I have no experience of it.  I’d have to say that my favorite is the two and  a half liter.

David Brown:       Yeah I agree with you, totally agree with you. Interesting thing is that the diesel engine that they had before was a two liter one.  It had more horsepower, and more torque being a bigger engine. In some ways going downscale it’s rather interesting.

The thing I’ll say about the performance the two liter engine, the little engine is rated at 8.2 liters per hundred. In fact the bigger engine the two and a half liter is rated lower it’s 7.9 liters per hundred fuel consumption.

Brent:                  Yeah, it’s a little crazy isn’t it.

David Brown:       Yeah and that’s with manual gearbox it’s still getting higher in the CVT.  Perhaps that part and parcel of it being more efficient. If you’re going to get the two liter engine you’re not going to get a fuel economy saving on it.

Brent:                  No which sticks by my argument to go for the 2.5.

David Brown:       it’s all pointing in that direction.

Brent:                  Exactly right,

David Brown:       Five point three liters per hundred fuel consumption for the diesel which is pretty good.  We didn’t get that when we were testing it, it was near a 6.9 but we all know that ratings that are given are usually a bit low to what you get in the real world.

Brent:                  Exactly, exactly.  The other thing is of course that the price difference between the cars and the two liter petrol which starts off at 27,999 call it 28,000 dollars. It’s about two and half thousand dollars cheaper than the 2.5 liter engine and automatic transmission.

You go sort of weigh  up your petrol use as opposed to how many liters two and  half thousand dollars will buy you that sort of thing. There’s a bit of thinking to be done here when you’re looking at the various model permutations.

David Brown:       They have quite a range of models in them don’t they. The seven seater is deemed to be a separate sort of model in there only with the 2.5 liter and only in two wheel drive.  Then it goes as I say right up to the top one, the top of the range one is 46,580?

Brent:                  Yeah that is 46,580 that’s the 1.6 litre diesel.

David Brown:       Plus on the roads of course.

Brent:                  Yeah. We’re talking about the model spread there are about 10 or a dozen different variations you can go for. Anybody sitting there thinking to buy a Nissan X-Trail have a cup of coffee on hand. You might need it.

David Brown:       And take a pen and paper with you.

Brent:                  Pen and paper yes.

David Brown:       It does come with a number of nice features including what I really like is a reversing camera on all variants across the board. I think that’s very positive. If you go up to the top one you’re certainly getting a wide range heated front front seats, dual zone, climate control, digital radio tuner, of course Bluetooth.

Brent:                  Let’s not forget that wonderful thing called the around view camera. One of my favorite toys particularly with the SUVs and the bigger you are the better that around view camera is.  I remember on the Nissan X car launch we had one car it had all the windows blacked out.

We had to go on an obstacle course using only the around view camera.  It’s a great little exercise. Anybody who hasn’t done it, I recommend it.

David Brown:       I did it and then our friend Brad from Victoria he banged on the side of the car when I shut all the doors and started moving. I wondered if I’d hit anything.

Brent:                  That’s a devil. Nissan has been doing this with their new models. It’s been value adding and doing it quite well.  They’re doing a nice thing with it.

David Brown:       The top of the range has a power tailgate as well which I think can be rather nice. It goes up slowly so if it’s teeming with rain you do tend to feel conscious about the speed of which it’s going up.

Brent:                  I have to tell you I do a little bit of a show off thing with the power tailgate on cars and boots as well. It’s kind of a smugness thing you press the button and walk away.  People sort of sit in their cars in the shopping center car park and watch this thing slowly close while you disappear into the distance.

There’s a certain smugness element to go with it.

David Brown:       Overall you’d have to say they’re certainly making good headway in this next model, this third generation model that they put together with the Nissan X-Trail?

Brent:                  Absolutely. Nissan is doing this with all its models particularly the SUV. It’s stepping up forward very nicely over the previous generations.  Look they have too because the market is getting tougher not easier.

David Brown:       That market they have a lot of competitors in there. There’s the Kia Sportage, Mitsubishi Outlander, Honda CRV, Ford Cougar.

Brent:                  And not to mention all the Jeeps and all that sort of.

David Brown:       The Jeep Cherokee.

Brent:                  They’re a hell of a range and it’s only getting bigger.

David Brown:       You know Jeep Cherokee is only going 10th at this stage I thought it deserved better than that but maybe that’s in the full year. It’s probably rating a bit more up around the sixth or seventh for the month.

Brent:                  I think if we have this discussion at this time next year we might see some changes in where various cars sit in that particular class.

David Brown:       Brent lovely to talk to you as always. Thank you very much for your time.

Brent:                  And David it is always my pleasure.

David Brown:       Good on you.  And that’s Brent Davidson from The Newcastle Herald and The Illawalla Mercury talking about the Nissan X-Trail.

 

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