Play the practical role
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.
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.