Alfa Romeo
Land Rover
Nissan X-Trail compact SUV
The X factor
February 2008

YOU need the keenest of eyes to see the changes to Nissan’s popular X-Trail SUV.

To me, it looks almost identical to the outgoing model launched here six years ago.

To the faithful, however, who have kept sales in Australia ticking over nicely at about 1000 a month, there is no mistaking the spruced up second generation release.

Everywhere you drive, hordes of quite mad but likable “X-Trailers’’ wave, flash their lights or come over to chat about the new Nissan.

This vehicle has many happy customers and that’s probably why its maker looked to maintain its character.

When you look beneath the cosmetics, though, there are a number of clever improvements.

These include greater off-road credentials, with a new “all-mode 4x4-i’’ system that allows the wagon to be locked in 4WD at low speeds.

It also offers fuel savings _ becoming more important by the day _ by allowing the driver to flick a switch to 2WD when on bitumen. There also is the option of restricting the Nissan to a crawl for steep hill descents.

The 4x4-i system works in tandem with the other advanced on-board systems, such as Electronic Stability Program, (ESP), traction control, and anti-lock brakes (ABS) and electronic brakeforce distribution (EBD).

With approach and departure angles of 26 and 22 degrees, the wagon can handle its fair share of bush and beach work. Clearance of 200mm, which remains unchanged, is the only impediment to more serious action.

The X-Trail is 175mm longer, 20mm wider and 11mm taller than its predecessor and the rear suspension has been tweaked to ensure less intrusion into the luggage area, creating more cargo room.

A three-way split rear seat provides plenty of flexibility to carry surfboards, a load of plants from the markets, or some sleepers from Bunnings for that retaining wall you never seem to get finished.

Seats are comfortable and five people can be accommodated with a minimum of fuss.

The cabin looks a little more sassy than before, but still falls short of being plush.

Fortunately, the centrally-mounted instrument panel has been moved into a more conventional position in front of the driver.

There’s still the cup holders up front that are able to heat or cool drinks and now there’s two more for the rear-seat passengers.

The X-Trail range includes three variants: the base model ST, mid-range ST-L and top-shelf Ti.

Standard in all models are a trip computer, exterior temperature gauge, cruise control, height-adjustable driver’s seat, air conditioning, power windows, keyless entry, 12-volt cargo area power outlet, cargo area tie-down hooks and roof rails.

ST-L and Ti models gain 17-inch alloy wheels, climate-control air-conditioning, a leather-trimmed steering wheel and a six-speaker sound system with six-stack, in-dash MP3- capable CD player, while the Ti comes with a glass sliding power sunroof, heated front leather seats with power adjustment and rear parking sensors.

The new model gets a revised version of the proven 2.5-litre four-cylinder engine that provided the strong performance that set the original X-Trail apart.

While the power has increased slightly, it is the revised torque curve that helps the latest offering deliver improved mid-range response while still returning excellent average fuel consumption figures of 9.3 litres for every 100km covered.

There is a new 6-speed manual gearbox to replace the old 5-speed transmission and the optional 4-speed auto has been replaced by a sophisticated CVTC (Continuous Valve Timing Control) system.

Wheel sizes are also increased in the new X-TRAIL, to 16-inch steel wheels with 215/65R16 tyres in ST models and to 17-inch six-spoke alloy wheels with 215/60R17 tyres in ST-L and Ti versions.

Passive safety is enhanced with dual front, front side and full-length curtain airbags on all models, along with front active headrests, side intrusion bars and a collapsible steering column.

Overall, what was a good package is now a great one.

Despite the improved technology, comfort and space, the Nissan X-Trail’s price is unchanged, starting at $31,990. Get in the queue!



ENGINE: 2.5-litre 4-cylinder

POWER: 125kW at 6000rpm

TORQUE: 226Nm at 4400rpm

TRANSMISSION: 6-speed manual or Continuously Variable Transmission (CVT) automatic

FUEL ECONOMY: Average 9.3 litres per 100km

FEATURES: 4WD at flick of a switch, ABS, stability control system, dual front, side and full-length curtain airbags, remote central locking

PROS: Improved off-road ability, roomier, better technology

CONS: Heavier, similar looks

BOTTOM LINE: From $31,990