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Car reviews - Nissan - X-Trail - N-Sport

Our Opinion

We like
Value for money, flexible and robust cabin, interior space, ride quality, look of N-Sport package
Room for improvement
Outdated infotainment system, missing some tech of rivals, noisy cabin

Basics stay the same for blacked-out limited-edition Nissan X-Trail N-Sport


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24 Jul 2018

ACCORDING to some car company executives, consumers don’t want a sporty family friendly SUV. They do, however, want a sporty looking SUV.
Enter the Nissan X-Trail N-Sport. It is a limited-edition variant that adds a sporty black-themed bodykit to the mid-spec X-Trail ST-L for a premium of just over $2000.
Nissan hasn’t made any other changes to the X-Trail, but it was upgraded as part of a mid-cycle update in May last year.
We take another look at Australia’s third best-selling SUV, this time with some black bits, to see if it is still competitive against newer rivals.
Drive impressions
The Nissan X-Trail was the world’s biggest selling SUV last year. In Australia it was the fifth most popular SUV, behind the Mazda CX-5, Hyundai Tucson, Toyota RAV4 and Mitsubishi ASX and so far this year it has moved up to third.
Nissan thinks the X-Trail can do even better so it is launching a limited-edition N-Sport variant. It is also offering 370Z and Pathfinder N-Sports.
Just 600 examples of the X-Trail N-Sport will be made available and it is based on the mid-range ST-L petrol auto. It is priced from $39,250 plus on-road costs for the two-wheel drive and $41,250 for the all-wheel drive, which is $2050 more than the regular ST-L.
The N-Sport adds a black bodykit that includes larger 18-inch black alloy wheels (up from 17 inches), gloss black mirror caps, dark metallic front and rear bumper finisher, black side sills, a dark chrome front grille and black roof rails.
There are no changes under the skin and no extra specification added beyond the bodykit. So don’t expect it to go any faster than the regular X-Trail.
Looks are subjective, so we can’t road test a bodykit, but we can have a look at the rest of the X-Trail.
Some will love the blacked out look, and it does lift the appearance of the X-Trail that is already a handsome wagon, particularly after last year’s facelift ushered in sharper front-end styling. The big black alloys are particularly cool.
The X-Trail has a super functional interior and while hard dark plastics feature heavily, it’s a robust space that should handle whatever messy children or pets can throw at it.
Getting in and out of the X-Trail is easy thanks to a high hip line, which ensures it appeals to some older folk.
The X-Trail is one of the larger offerings in the segment and there is a surprising amount of leg, knee and toe room for rear-seat occupants, but the sunroof impedes on headroom for taller folk in the rear. 
The second-row pew is more supportive than some of its rivals and it has rear-seat air vents. So very few complaints in the rear.
Folding the 40/20/40 split-fold rear-seat is a cinch and creates an almost flat cargo area. It offers 565 litres of boot space – more than the Mazda CX-5’s 442L and Honda CR-V’s 522L – increasing to 945L when the second row is folded.
While a third seating row is available on some X-Trail variants, the N-Sport is a five-seat-only proposition.
Back up front, the seats are supportive and comfortable – unlike some Japanese rivals – and the black leather-accented seats feel classier than they look.
The X-Trail is four years into its lifecycle, so some elements of the cabin feel dated compared with fresher rivals including the CX-5, CR-V or Kia Sportage.
The dash layout is functional but fussy and the colour infotainment touchscreen looks and feels a generation behind its competitors. It is, however, user friendly in its operation. Other tech it misses out on includes a head-up display, which is becoming increasingly common in the segment.
Aside from these few tech missteps, the standard equipment list is extensive for the price, ensuring it is one of the better value offerings among its rivals.
Under the bonnet is Nissan’s 126kW/226Nm 2.5-litre naturally aspirated petrol engine, paired with a continuously-variable transmission (CVT).
From a standing start, the X-Trail is no track star, but when you need to overtake when already at speed, there is plenty of power to safely achieve the task.
It’s not a sporty SUV but the performance is more than adequate for most buyers.
The tyres wrapped around the 18-inch wheels make for a bit of tyre roar on coarse chip surfaces and the cabin is not as well insulated as it could be.
The X-Trail’s ride is super comfortable and most bumps and corrugations are absorbed without fuss.
Steering is a little vague but the X-Trail handles surprisingly well for a family-focused medium SUV, offering an engaging drive experience on some of the twistier roads between Cairns and Port Douglas during our drive in Far North Queensland.
The on-demand all-wheel-drive system kicked in on a brief jaunt off road to take some happy snaps and the X-Trail held on to the lose surface without any wheel spin.
Official fuel economy is rated at 8.3 litres per 100km for the 4WD and we recorded 8.4L/100km during mostly highway driving.
The N-Sport adds visual appeal to the X-Trail and the $2050 is a small amount to pay if you dig the look. But get in quick as there are only 600 available.
Nissan’s popular SUV might lack the polish of some of the newer offerings in the segment, notably the CX-5, Honda CR-V and Volkswagen’s Tiguan, but the X-Trail is still one of the better offerings in the segment in terms of value for money, flexibility, reliability and robustness.

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