I don’t particularly like the styling of the new Nissan X-Trail, or the Qashqai for that matter.
It’s not that I find the design offensive or dull. In fact, with it’s rounded edges and dynamic side profile, it actually looks rather handsome, but I can’t help but think some of its character has gone missing. It’s the same story with the Qashqai.
The Qashqai used to be the funky compact crossover, while the X-Trail was a boxy, macho SUV. Now they appear to be identical twins, with the one merely being 20% larger than the other.
I wouldn’t normally comment on my own personal feelings regarding styling, but in this case it’s absolutely necessary, because it’s the only drawback on an otherwise great car. This criticism isn’t even worth that much as you might find Nissan’s new design direction highly appealing.
And while the design might be a big departure, Nissan has stayed very close to the formula that made the X-Trail such a massive global success story.
At the recent launch event I found myself behind the wheel of the entry-level front-wheel drive petrol derivative, which will likely be the volume seller in the range.
This model uses a 2,0-litre four-cylinder engine, mated to a smooth six-speed manual transmission. It puts out 106kW and 200Nm of torque, which is perfectly adequate for a car as big as the X-Trail. It’s not going to break any speed records, but it does a decent job in the city and on the highway. Nissan claims a combined fuel consumption figure of 8,3 l/100km for this particular model.
The interior, while slightly unimaginative, is a lovely place to be. The sound insulation is most impressive, with the X-Trail being on par with vehicles costing at least twice as much. The layout is logical, there’s loads of space (thanks to an increased wheelbase) and, even in base XE trim, it comes with everything a reasonable person could ever want or need in their car.
It has air-conditioning, a decent sound system with all the obligatory connectivity features, cruise control, a multi-function steering wheel and cooled bottle holders in the centre console.
The X-Trail proved to be a worthy and comfortable companion on our 200km test run, but this on-road prowess hasn’t had a negative effect on the X-Trail’s ability to tackle a gravel road.
As far as the driver is concerned, the surface of the road merely changes colour. It glides over dirt, but that’s not the most impressive thing about it. Those of you who regularly drive on gravel roads will know that, for the most part, it’s an ear deafening experience. Even on dirt roads, the interior of the car remained quiet and rattle free. Well, at least quiet enough to have a conversation with my co-pilot.
The more adventurous among you will also be happy to learn that the X-Trail is still very capable when the going gets extra tough. My short stint behind the wheel of the 2,5-litre petrol AWD CVT model was enough to confirm this.
Nissan allowed us to tackle a few obstacles on an off-road course, and while it wasn’t exactly a white-knuckle experience, it certainly proved that the new X-Trail is capable of doing a lot more than the average buyer would expect of it.
Retailing at R327 700, the entry-level X-Trail XE is on par with other vehicles in this segment. You do, however, get Nissan’s class-leading six-year/150 000km warranty and five-year/90 000km warranty as standard, which just shows that Nissan has a lot of confidence in this product.
For years the X-Trail was considered the default SUV in its segment, but as it aged, it started slipping slowly downward. With the introduction of the new X-Trail, Nissan is once again back on top.