Nissan X-Trail (2017) Launch Review


The Nissan X-Trail crossover SUV returns with a sharper aesthetic, a bit more pace, grace and technology in spades. We took it for a drive...

It's finally over! No longer will I confuse the X-Trail with its slightly smaller sibling the Qashqai. You did too, right? Personally, I'd need to get in real close, badge-reading distance if you will, to really be sure. Am I looking at an X-Trail in the distance or a Qashqai just a couple metres away? Now, especially when resplendent in the launch car's metallic orange, it has more chances of being mistaken for a bloated GT-R.

I joke, but really, with this sharply chiselled update to its aesthetic, the MY18 X-Trail has completed its transformation from ladder-frame hero to the kind of animal you'd park alongside your Japanese supercar in your suburban double garage.

No loss of traction

The success of the X-Trail is set to continue thanks to a much-improved package and attractive pricing structure. 

Historically, Nissan's X-Trail has been well received by the public and continues to increase its market share, now by 12% in the passenger SUV segment. It originally debuted in South Africa in 2001 as the aforementioned box-shaped, ladder-framed SUV that gained favour among gravel enthusiasts of which there are plenty. Internationally it wears the Rogue badge and was one of the five top sellers in the USA.

In South Africa, 2014 saw the arrival of the new Qashqai - whoops, I mean new X-Trail, which while a looker, had lost its literal edge - soft in profile and bereft of its ladder-frame chassis, making way for a modular platform and independent suspension, endearing but not relegating it to the asphalt. This update doesn't attempt to disrupt, but rather sharpen the package considerably while prices remain unchanged, or even lower than the outgoing model.

A revised cabin makes the X-Trail more appealing and it comes equipped with a range of useful features. 

It can be had in an array of petrol and diesel models, mated to either a manual 6-speed transmission or CVT auto (sadly, not paired with a diesel) from the entry-level 2.0 Visio (R369 900) to range-topping 2.5 Tekna CVT 4WD 7-seater at R469 900. I spent most of my journey from Port Elizabeth to Jeffrey's Bay in the flagship derivative and quickly began to experience the wealth of upgrades to the exterior and cabin. That includes cosmetic and functional upgrades such as updated running lights, new side skirts and bumpers and revised fog lamp housings giving it added menace.

You also now have an option of larger 19-inch alloy wheels at each corner and they are bigger than ever before. There's more in the shape of a shark-fin antenna, darkened rear lights and a bolder V-motion grille. Clamber aboard and you’ll encounter new dashboard inserts and leather trim, a flat-bottomed steering wheel and premium-finish gear-knob and wrap-around armrest make for happier hands. It’s cleverer than before too, thanks to Nissan Intelligent Mobility (NIM) – essentially the full suite of electronic aids including cross traffic alert, intelligent blind spot intervention, cross traffic alert, emergency braking and auto headlights. You also get active safety, ‎intelligent 4-wheel drive and now for the first time, what the marque calls 'around view monitor', essentially a 360 camera solution to assist in your parking efforts. 

The driving bit and more

The range-topping X-Trail 2.5 Tekna CVT 4WD 7-seater delivers good performance and can accommodate 7 passengers.  

The 2.5-litre petrol engine churns out a respectable 126 kW and 233 Nm of torque and as a result, you can't accuse it of being unresponsive, not even when mated to Nissan’s Xtronic CVT auto. CVTs live in infamy due to their characteristic sluggishness, but here the marriage between it and the engine feels wholly complementary.

I enjoy the engagement of a Nissan helm, even in something as large as this – here it doesn’t disappoint allowing me to carve up sinewy tarmac when required and gravel just as voraciously when the route allowed it. The independent suspension soaks up bumps, ruts and camber indiscriminately. Performance is rated at 10.5 seconds in the sprint to 100 kph with a maximum speed of 190kph, whilst combined fuel economy (perhaps a more relevant statistic here) sits at a fair 8.3 L/100km.

The interior is practical and perfectly suited to active lifestyle buyers with a range of customisation options available. 

Overall, and you can partly thank the tactile cabin for this as well as the creamy smooth drivetrain, the experience feels premium, which makes the sub-R500k sticker price quite a shocker. With this range-topping Tekna priced at R469,900 you’ll struggle to find a more complete ownership prospect, especially when you start factoring in the third row of seats, the wealth of customisation options for those with active lifestyles, and then of course Nissan’s impressive 6-year/150 000km warranty and 3-year/90 000km service plan with 24 hour roadside assistance.

Should you not require seats 6 and 7, you can enjoy similar performance in a 5-seater Acenta CVT 4WD for R425 900 – my favourite petrol prospect in the range. Again, it’s a pity that the diesel doesn’t come with the auto but if you don’t mind rowing your own, you get identical performance but with a much greener eco-footprint with a combined consumption figure of 5.1l/100km while carbon emissions drop from 197 g/km to 134. You can get an X-Trail with entry specification with 7 seats for under R400k if you’re looking for sensible wheels. Just pick one

Nissan X-Trail – Price in South Africa (November 2017)

2.0 Visia R369 900
2.0 Visia 7s R374 900
1.6 dci Visia 7s R392 900
2.5 Acenta CVT 4WD R425 900
2.5 Acenta CVT 4WD 7s R429 900
2.5 Acenta Plus CVT 4WD 7s R444 900
1.6 dci Tekna 4WD R457 900
2.5 Tekna CVT 4WD 7s R469 900

The Nissan X-Trail is sold with a 6-year/150 000km warranty, 3-year/90 000km service plan a24-hour roadside assistance.

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