X STILL MARKS THE TOP SPOT

SMART AND STURDY SUV WITH PROVEN DRIVETRAIN

Kwinana Courier - - Driveway - Bill Buys

NIS­SAN'S X-Trail, un­til a while ago,was the best seller in its class, which says a lot for the ver­sa­tile ve­hi­cle.

It was so good that Re­nault bor­rowed its drivetrain for its Koleos of­froader.

The lat­est X-Trail has re­tained much of Ol' Faith­ful's me­chan­i­cals, but added some de­sign changes and im­proved safety and techno bits - with­out af­fect­ing the price.

Also, you can get it in 2 or 4WD and with petrol or diesel power.

Then there's the choice of 2.0 or 2.5litre petrol en­gines, fit­tings and fea­tures from the stan­dard ST, ST-L or TI and five or seven seats.

Out­side, the newie looks big­ger and has a shiny new grille, LED day­time run­ning lights, fog­lights, roof rails, smart al­loy wheels and a squar­ish rear end with big, bright tail lights.

Our re­view model was a midrange ST-L 4WD, priced at $38,590.

Its 2.5 mo­tor is good for 126kW/226Nm. It drives through a smooth CVT and runs on 17-inch wheels.

There's a lot of room inside, with es­pe­cially spa­cious rear seat ac­com­mo­da­tion for three, plus 565litres of cargo room, ex­pand­able to 945litres with the seats folded down.

Back-seat oc­cu­pants also get their own air vents.

The doors open wide and the leather-trimmed seats are comfy and easy to slide into or out of, and the cabin is pretty well pre­sented with a 7-inch touch­screen with sat­nav, a de­cent multi-speaker stereo sys­tem, push-but­ton start and dual-zone cli­mate con­trol.

The front seats are heated and the one for the pi­lot has power ad­just­ment.

There’s a sporty flat-bot­tomed steer­ing wheel and in­stru­men­ta­tion is a mix of ana­logue and digital, all clear and eas­ily read.

For the folk who need to plug things in, there's a USB port and a 12-volt charge point in the cen­tre con­sole, and an­other in the stor­age box.

The X-Trail has six airbags, blind-spot warn­ing, a very good re­vers­ing cam­era with cross-traf­fic alert and for­ward col­li­sion warn­ing with au­ton­o­mous emer­gency brak­ing.

It's a very easy and pleas­ant ve­hi­cle to drive, its light steer­ing and well-sorted sus­pen­sion de­liv­er­ing a con­fi­dent, com­pli­ant ride and com­pe­tent han­dling, and that cam­era – well, there are four of them – gives a bird's eye view to al­low pre­cise re­verse park­ing or see what­ever is around you.

The car runs qui­etly and has enough power for good ac­cel­er­a­tion and quick over­tak­ing at cruis­ing speeds, and we were much im­pressed with its 7.9litres/100km av­er­age fuel con­sump­tion.

The X-Trail nor­mally runs in front-wheel drive, but its 'in­tel­li­gent 4x4' - which in­cludes hill de­scent con­trol - au­to­mat­i­cally dis­trib­utes up to 50per cent power to the rear wheels as re­quired.

For do-it-your­selfers, a turn of the cen­tral ro­tary dial al­lows man­ual se­lec­tion of 2 or 4WD and there's a cen­tre diff lock should you wan­der into hos­tile ter­rain.

A smart, sturdy, spa­cious SUV with a proven, re­spected drivetrain. What's

not to like?

Nis­san's lat­est X-Trail. Ver­dict:

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