The diesel Trailblazer
Nissan’s backflip could give it a sales edge, writes KEITHDIDHAM
EAGER customers have forced Nissan to add a diesel engine to its X-Trail compact four-wheel drive. The move could give it a crucial edge on non-diesel rivals, led by the Toyota RAV4 and Honda CR-V, and marks an important backflip for a company with more drive under a new managing director.
Only a year ago Nissan repeatedly dismissed the diesel as a viable X-Trail choice, saying it could not make a business case for Australia.
Now it has set the price of the diesel at only $1000 more than comparable petrol models and says the petrol versions will subsidise the difference to win sales at a budget price.
Still, the X-Trail has been travelling a rocky road and the latest version, launched last year, has only managed ‘‘disappointing’’ sales, according to Nissan marketing manager Ross Booth.
Nissan, he says, was caught napping and too slow to react to an intensive price-cutting blitz from rivals Subaru and Toyota.
It is retaliating with a new marketing campaign, effectively lowering the price of the petrol models by picking up on-road costs. Its dealers have come to the party on driveaway deals.
Booth says the X-Trail is the first volume seller in the compact SUV market with a diesel, dismissing Suzuki as neither a volume seller nor serious rivals with its diesel Grand Vitara.
The X-Trail will have a choice of two turbocharged diesels, both based on a 2.0-litre motor sourced from its alliance partner Renault.
But one comes with a penalty because the auto loses the classing-leading twotonne towing capacity.
And Nissan admits 80 per cent of buyers use their wagon for towing. The sixspeed manual retains the maximum braked trailer rating, but six-speed automatic buyers will be limited to 1350kg.
The difference in tow capacity is governed by how the transmissions are cooled: manual models have a conventional separate external oil cooler for the gearbox but the auto is water cooled internally from the engine and cannot take the added tow load.
Nissan, based on past experience, expects 60 per cent of X-Trail buyers will go for the automatic so those wanting to tow heavier boats or caravans will have to buy the petrol model, which retains the two-tonne rating.
The auto doesn’t match the manual for power or torque. It will come with 110kW and 320Nm, compared with 137kW and 360Nm for the manual.
Both engines are economical, rated at 7.4 litres for 100km for the manual and 8.1 litres/100km for the auto.
Peak torque is achieved at 2000 revs, with 90 per cent of that on tap from a low 1750.
The two specification grades are the TS and premium TL, both of which have similar equipment to petrol models.
Pricing starts at $36,990 for the TS manual and $38,990 for the automatic.
The better-equipped TL starts at $39,990 for the manual and the auto comes in at $41,990.
But in an attempt to cut costs and keep the diesel price premium to $1000, auto airconditioning, a leather-wrapped steering wheel and leather gear knob have been dropped in the TS and replaced with a vehicle alarm.
The TS has Nissan’s smart All-Mode switchable all-wheel-drive system with hill start and downhill assist, six airbags, anti-lock brakes with electronic brake distribution and brake assist, cruise control, keyless entry, alloy wheels, six-stack audio and trip computer.
The TL adds leather upholstery, poweradjustable front seats with seat heaters, a huge sunroof and climate control airconditioning.