On the trail of SUV fans who want value

LAUNCH NEWS/ Nis­san SA has en­hanced its X-Trail SUV with sharper styling and up­graded cabin fea­tures, writes Ler­ato Matebese

Business Day - Motor News - - MOTOR NEWS -

Nis­san SA has launched the up­dated ver­sion of its X-Trail sport util­ity ve­hi­cle to re­main rel­e­vant and at­trac­tive. First launched lo­cally in 2015 the cur­rent X-Trail ar­rived shortly after the Qashqai was up­dated and seemed to of­fer a sim­i­lar vis­age, with many won­der­ing why the mar­que would bring out such sim­i­larly styled cars for dif­fer­ent seg­ments.

Of course, the much big­ger X-Trail was also of­fered with the op­tion of seven seats, which gave it a slight edge over its Qashqai sib­ling.

Since 2015, one of the X-Trail’s main draw­cards was its price. Now the com­pany has taken the knife to the model and the up­dates seem to work fairly well. For starters, the head­lights now have LED day­time run­ning lights and the model now has a V-Mo­tion grille. There are new 17- and 19-inch wheels, while the tail-lights have been given a dark­ened ef­fect.

The cabin has also been up­dated, with the in­fo­tain­ment in­ter­face and some ma­te­ri­als hav­ing a bet­ter over­all tac­tile qual­ity than the pre-facelift mod­els. You can still opt for a seven-seat op­tion for the Visia spec­i­fi­ca­tion (stan­dard on high­spec­i­fi­ca­tion Tekna vari­ants), while the en­gines have been car­ried over. Th­ese in­clude a 2.0l petrol with 106kW and 200Nm, a 1.6l dCi mak­ing 96kW and 320Nm and a 2.5l petrol mus­ter­ing 126kW and 233Nm.

The en­try-level model comes with six-speed man­ual as stan­dard while a CVT (con­tin­u­ously vari­able trans­mis­sion) is of­fered for the 2.5l petrol mod­els. Strangely, diesel mod­els are paired to a six-speed man­ual, which the com­pany says is due to the fact there is lit­tle de­mand for a diesel au­to­matic in the seg­ment.

We drove the model at its launch in the Eastern Cape and while I re­main averse to CVT, the 2.5l mo­tor per­formed well at the coast, although that ini­tial dron­ing of the gear box still takes some get­ting used to.

Per­son­ally, it was the diesel that of­fered the most re­laxed driv­ing dis­po­si­tion, in spite of only be­ing of­fered in man­ual guise. It’s a great lit­tle en­gine with gutsy per­for­mance and ex­em­plary fuel con­sump­tion habits quoted at 5.1l/100km.

With a com­fort­able ride qual­ity, the X-Trail is a par­tic­u­larly fuss-free, no-non­sense propo­si­tion that should ap­pease a fam­ily look­ing for a spa­cious mid-size SUV.

Ride qual­ity was par­tic­u­larly good, even over gravel with 19-inch tyres, while the all­wheel drive did its best to keep trac­tion on the mov­ing sur­face. The new model’s build qual­ity seemed sound even while driv­ing over rough ter­rain.

The Tekna mod­els come with a host of safety func­tions in­clud­ing blind-spot mon­i­tor­ing, emer­gency brak­ing, crosstraf­fic warn­ing, for­ward col­li­sion warn­ing and lane-keep as­sist.

The lat­ter was rather too sen­si­tive and beeped in­ces­santly at the slight­est move­ment of the ve­hi­cle to­wards the lane mark­ings. You can turn the sys­tem off although you would do well to leave it on if you are driv­ing long dis­tances, which is closely as­so­ci­ated with fa­tigue.

In iso­la­tion, I think the model is com­pe­tent, but the CVT gear­box is some­thing I could do with­out. Why many a Ja­panese man­u­fac­turer still in­sists on this ar­chaic set-up, other than it be­ing as cheap as chips to make, is be­yond me. A reg­u­lar torque con­verter would be a much more wel­comed propo­si­tion.

Among its ri­vals, the X-Trail man­ages to pull the rug out from un­der its com­peti­tors through its more palat­able pric­ing point. Start­ing at R369,900 and ris­ing to R469,900, it plays in a price spec­trum most of its com­peti­tors are un­able to.

This can be at­trib­uted to the com­pany hav­ing sim­pli­fied its range while keep­ing a beady eye on what Toy­ota’s Rav4 is of­fer­ing to the seg­ment.

Should you buy one? If you are look­ing for util­ity space at an ap­peal­ing pric­ing point, then the X-Trail ticks all the right boxes in that re­gard.

For me, how­ever, I would also look at the re­cently ra­tio­nalised Kia Sportage which, cour­tesy of the model ex­pan­sion, seems to of­fer com­pa­ra­ble value, in par­tic­u­lar the en­trylevel 1.7 turbo-diesel vari­ant.

The seg­ment con­tin­ues to be over­sub­scribed by var­i­ous mod­els — but this is a good thing for con­sumers.

In or­der to stand out from the crowd, a man­u­fac­turer has to en­sure it has an of­fer­ing that is al­most sec­ond to none in the seg­ment — and that largely equates to best value for money. The Nis­san X-Trail, I can safely say, has that one as­pect thor­oughly waxed. R392,900 Now 96kW 320Nm 188km/h 10.5 sec­onds 5.1l/100km



The lat­est X-Trail adopts the Nis­san V-Mo­tion front de­sign.

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