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Car reviews - Nissan - X-Trail - 5-dr wagon range

Launch Story

Nissan logo18 Oct 2007

By GEORGIA OCONNELL

WHEN a car company presents a new model, something that represents thousands of hours of development time and millions of dollars in expenditure, it is de rigueur for the shiny new model in question to be made to sound as if it is the most advanced, sophisticated machine ever created.

Instead when Nissan this week launched its all-new X-Trail, which looks much like the outgoing one, it insisted that's exactly what first-generation X-Trail customers want from a new car - to not change a thing.

Clearly X-Trail owners are a conservative lot who are adverse to change. Nissan must hope that does not include an aversion to changing cars.

In fact, the very familiar looks are only skin-deep. The new X-Trail, built on Nissan’s new C-platform shared with the Dualis, is longer, wider and taller.

It has a revised four-cylinder petrol engine, a choice of two completely new transmissions and an improved four-wheel drive system with had new features such as hill descent control, a hill-hold feature and stability and traction control. All at the same price as the outgoing model.

Except for an identical front track width, the X-Trail has grown in all measurements. The key change is to the body’s length. It is 175mm longer, and the body structure has been treated to a 30 percent improvement in torsional stiffness over the previous generation. Nissan says the new model is quieter, to the tune of six decibels at 120km/h.

Australian-specification X-Trails are built to ‘Level 4’ specification, which means it will have 4kg of additional body reinforcement to cope with rough roads. Japan-market cars are built to a lighter Level 1 most of Europe is level 1.5, with the exception of Russia, which, like Australia, requires Level 4 vehicles to cope with its poor roads.

With all the extra features and increased size, X-Trail has put on weight. Depending on model, it is about 150kg heavier, at 1525kg (ST) to 1554kg (ST-L and Ti).

The new X-Trail engine is similar to the first-generation's but has been given a significant workover to make it is smoother and more tractable. The QR25 2.5-litre engine has been given new balance shafts for improved smoothness, plus bigger intake and exhaust valves and improved oil pick-up.

A new engine mount design is said to reduce NVH levels and the engine mapping was changed to accentuate low-rpm torque to best suit the characteristics of the new CVT transmission. The power output is up 1 kW to 125kW, and torque has been reduced to 226Nm - 4Nm down from before.

The new CVT automatic is a version of the transmission used in Murano and in the X-Trail also has a manual mode, which allows the driver to choose from six stepped ‘ratios’. Nissan says the CVT will achieve average fuel consumption of 9.3L/100km, while the six-speed manual version gets 9.5L/100km.

Nissan’s All-Mode 4X4 system has been revised for the new X-Trail and is now called All-Mode 4x4-i. The rotary switch on the centre console allows 2WD mode, making X-Trail front-wheel drive only, or ‘Auto’ on-demand four-wheel drive, in which drive goes to the front wheels unless slip is detected, when it then directs drive up to 50-50 front/rear.

Finally ‘Lock’ mode sets the torque split to a fixed 50-50 front/rear, but it only works up to 40km/h. It then resumes operation in ‘Auto’ mode.

The new system incorporates sensors measuring information such as G forces, yaw rates and steering angles. This information is sent to a central processor, which then channels drive to the wheels with most grip.

The new four-wheel drive system works with the new stability and traction control features and ABS brakes and electronic brake force distribution (EBD) to provide the best traction.

The new X-Trail also now has hill descent control, which can be engaged by the driver when the system is in Lock mode and uses the ABS brakes to maintain a controlled speed of about 8km/h down a hill.

Maximum fording depth is 350mm, ground clearance is 200mm and approach, ramp-over and departure angles are 26, 19 and 22 degrees respectively.

Another new feature is Hill Start Assist, which maintains brake pressure for around four seconds, to allow a hill start without rolling backwards.

While off-road angles are similar to current X-Trail, the new model has a re-designed exhaust system so that the rear muffler sits in a more tucked-up location than the exposed muffler in the current model.

Nissan has given up on the central instrument cluster, which is now fitted in a more conventional position in front of the driver. The rear seat folds in a 60/40-split arrangement, with a ski-port also fitted.

A unique feature is the false-floor cargo drawer. The cargo drawer unit can be removed to access the full-size spare wheel.

The rear suspension dampers are now separate from the coils and tilted so that they do not impede on luggage space.

With the rear seats up, the X-Trail has 603 litres of luggage space, up almost 50 per cent on the old model. With the double floor in place, it has more boot space than before. A cargo blind is a $545 accessory across the range.

Towing capacity remains as before at 750kg without trailer brakes and 2000kg with trailer brakes. With any tow ball mass (TBM) download of 100kg or more, Nissan specifies a gross vehicle mass (GVM) reduction - 60kg for 100kg TBM, 150kg for 150kg TBM and 200kg for 200kg TBM.

The X-Trail is comprehensively equipped. The three models - ST, ST-L and Ti - all have the All-Mode 4X4-I system, ABS brakes with EBD and Brake Assist, Hill Stat Assist, Hill Decent Control, Electronic Stability Programme, 16-inch steel wheels, front/side/side curtain (two rows) airbags, cruise control, tilt-adjust steering, remote central locking, trip computer and single in-dash CD player with four speakers.

The ST-L adds a leather steering wheel, leather shift lever and handbrake lever, plus a six-speaker in-dash six-CD and MP3-compatible sound system, plus 17-inch alloy wheels and front foglights.

The Ti adds leather seats (heated in the front), a powered glass sunroof, power adjustable driver’s seat, rear parking sensors and an illuminated passenger’s sunvisor mirror.

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