Tuesday, September 2, 2008


DATE - 02.09.2008

A quick review

Nissan have changed the new X-TRAIL but not a great deal. Before getting to work, the company asked its existing customers what they would change. Most of them came back with, ‘nothing at all’, but staying the same is not how models progress to take account of new trends, technologies and regulations.

So, it’s the same but different. Nissan tells us that this compact SUV is now built on the same platform as the QASHQAI and, although every panel has been changed, the robust, squared-off shape has been retained. So it is still easy for nervous parkers to see the corners.

As is usually the case, the new model is larger than its predecessor, but not by much. The wheelbase is only 5mm longer but the overall body length has increased by 175mm; it is wider by 20mm and 10mm taller. Although this makes the cabin more spacious, most of the extra body-length is taken up by the boot area, which is said to offer ‘best-in-class’ capacity.

The increased load-lugging has also been helped by moving the exhaust silencer to alongside the spare-wheel well, which is full size as a tyre-fix kit or space-saver spare are not considered suitable for an off-road vehicle. With the load floor now dropped lower, there are some 603-litres available with the seats in place, measured to the window line, and that’s an increase of 193-litres over the old model.

The TREK version still retains the 60:40 split to the rear seats while the others now have 40:20:40 split and fold function, increasing the possible capacity to a maximum of 1,773-litres. But that is not all, Nissan have come up with a clever storage solution to make the best use of space. It comes in the form of a double floor with a sliding drawer unit underneath so you can hide cameras and laptops out of sight. The drawer takes up half the width of the boot and has moveable partitions to keep things in place. On the other side of the luggage area, the hidden compartment is large enough to take two briefcases.

The floor above is hinged midway for easy access to the lower portion but can tend to rattle a little. Made from tough plastic, the false floor is light enough to be easily removed when not required. Customers said that they preferred an easy-clean surface to carpet so that they could carry pets or sports equipment with worrying about the mess. Even better, is that the floor system is a standard feature and not an optional extra.

On the subject of good, non-optional extras, all X-TRAILs have Bluetooth connectivity integrated into the audio system. Once set up your Bluetooth-enabled, phone can be kept in a pocket or bag, while the system automatically recognises its presence. Calls are made or answered via the buttons on the steering wheel and caller ID is displayed on the audio screen.

Due to the increasing popularity of satellite navigation systems, the instrument cluster has been moved back behind the steering wheel, to make room for a screen in the centre stack. It has meant the loss of the dash-top storage bin but this has been replaced by another box, just above the central tunnel, which is capable of holding ten CD cases. Cooled and heated cupholders are positioned in strategic places, the most sensible of which are lidded and at the extremes of the dashboard, at the base of the A-pillar, near the air-vent.

There are three rim levels; TREK, SPORT and AVENTURA, with the latter two further extended by means of upgrades. The TREK is available with either a 2.0-litre petrol engine or a 2.0dCi, diesel with prices of £18,795 and £20,395. For that you get 16-inch alloys, powered windows, front and rear; powered, adjustable door mirrors, climate control air conditioning, a single CD/radio with four speakers and the aforementioned Bluetooth and floor systems.

SPORT is a big step up in terms of specification, accordingly, the prices range from £20,695 to £22,595. On the list are 17-inch alloys, a rake-and reach-adjustable steering column complete with leather-clad steering wheel and secondary audio controls. Other gains include heated door mirrors, front foglights, automatic headlights and wipers, a huge panoramic sunroof, cruise control and a 6-CD autochanger with two extra speakers.

SPORT eXpedition adds an intelligent key system, DVD satellite navigation and a rear parking camera. But then the SPORT eXpedition eXtreme goes a step further by swapping the existing roof rails for boxy runners that are tapered at the front, where the extra spotlights are inset.

AVENTURA is the top grade, X-TRAIL, priced between £22,695 and £24, 595. The AVENTURA has everything the SPORT has but more, in the form of leather upholstery, powered and heated front seats, a stylish titanium finish, centre console, powered folding door mirrors and a tailgate, entry guard.

Instead of eXpedition, the first AVENTURA upgrade is called eXplorer but appears to add the same items, while the AVENTURA eXplorer eXtreme has the strange Extreme roof rails, which can be bought separately for £425, except for TREK customers. The lights have a separate switch and only illuminate when the headlights are on full beam. They do their job well but should only be used for night-time off-roading and not lighting up the local high street, tempting as it is.

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