Play the prac­ti­cal role

The Advertiser - Motoring - - FIRST DRIVE NISSAN X-TRAIL -

player in the light, small and mid-sized pas­sen­ger seg­ments un­til new prod­ucts flow through the global pipe­line — and makes the com­pany’s SUVs all the more cru­cial for the next cou­ple of years.

Which is pre­cisely why the X-Trail picks up AEB across the range. It is a tacit ac­knowl­edg­ment of the ar­rival of the CX-5 with the same fea­ture on all its vari­ants.

As well as that, it aims to pitch the X-Trail as su­pe­rior to the likes of the Hyundai Tuc­son and Kia Sportage, which don’t have the sen­sors even as an op­tion on lower-spec vari­ants.

The X-Trail gains a larger, thicker V-shaped grille, edgier creases on the front and rear bumpers, re­vised lights, flat­bot­tom steer­ing wheel and mi­nor in­te­rior tweaks.

Prices are un­changed on front-wheel drive X-Trails and drop by up to $1490 on AWD vari­ants. The most ex­pen­sive ver­sions also pick up the likes of a kick-ac­ti­vated pow­ered tail­gate, adap­tive cruise con­trol, adap­tive head­lamps and mov­ing ob­ject de­tec­tion when re­vers­ing at up to 8km/h.

The pop­u­lar ST-L ver­sions be­gin at $36,590 for the front­drive five-seater, rise by $1500 for seven seats and cost $38,590 for the AWD with five seats.

A turbo diesel ar­rives in Septem­ber and should con­trib­ute to a sales surge, along with the ad­di­tion of a more pow­er­ful (130kW/ 380Nm) 2.0-litre en­gine matched to a con­stantly vari­able trans­mis­sion.

The pre­vi­ous 1.6-litre diesel could only be paired with a man­ual, which buy­ers avoided. Prices for the oil­burn­ers start at $35,490 for the TS and step up to $47,290 for the TL

ON THE ROAD

The Nis­san is not go­ing to chal­lenge the CX-5 or VW Tiguan for on-the-limit han­dling but, at less fran­tic speeds, it de­serves se­ri­ous con­sid­er­a­tion. The body doesn’t lean much in the turns, the steer­ing is light but ac­cu­rate and the slid­ing sec­ond-row seats can lib­er­ate a sur­pris­ing amount of legroom.

A stint on hard-packed but pock­marked gravel shows FWD and AWD ver­sions alike have de­cent off-road man­ners. The sta­bil­ity con­trol in­ter­venes only when nec­es­sary, so there’s scope to let the X-Trail move around a bit be­fore wor­ry­ing about intervention.

The only real com­plaint is the con­tin­u­ously vari­able trans­mis­sion is typ­i­cally noisy un­der load. Push the ac­cel­er­a­tor mod­er­ately hard and the Nis­san re­sponds with a drone that doesn’t abate un­til the de­sired speed is achieved. It’s ac­cept­able in a $30K car; less likely to earn favour against the top-spec shop­pers in the $40K-plus seg­ment com­pet­ing against plenty of per­fectly good con­ven­tional au­tos.

VER­DICT

AEB is a wel­come and wor­thy ad­di­tion that, along with hold­ing or trim­ming the line on prices, should en­sure the X-Trail con­tin­ues to flour­ish. The re­fine­ment of the newer ri­vals means it won’t be an au­to­matic choice and I’d be hag­gling on price from the get-go.

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