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Frankfurt show: Smoother path for Nissan X-Trail

Smooth: Nissan's new X-Trail is just one of a host of new-gen SUVs from the company due in Australia imminently.

Nissan unveils stylish new-generation X-Trail SUV ahead of mid-2014 launch here


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11 Sep 2013

NISSAN has smoothed out the rough edges of its volume-selling X-Trail small SUV with the new-generation model unveiled overnight at the Frankfurt motor show ahead of a mid-2014 Australian launch.

Although quick to emphasise that it remains a capable vehicle off the beaten track, Nissan has admitted the design brief for its crucial new compact SUV was to hack into the rugged, squared-off lines of the current model and create a “premium and dynamic appearance” that blends “the sleek and stylish lines of a modern crossover with the robust appeal of a typical SUV”.

Previewed by the 2012 Hi-Cross concept and built off the new Nissan-Renault Alliance ‘common module family’ (CMF) platform that will underpin a variety of passenger cars across the Japanese and French brands’ model lines, the redesigned X-Trail is set to be built at nine different factories and sold in no fewer than 190 countries around the world, including the US where it will be known as the Rogue.

In Australia, Nissan will be working to return its SUV to the top of its class, having lost market share to newer competitors such as the Mazda CX-5, Toyota RAV4, Honda CR-V and Subaru Forester.

Sales of the current model are down 27.5 per cent this year.

The new X-Trail will be available with five or seven seats and as either a front-wheel-drive or four-wheel-drive model, the latter introducing a revised version of Nissan’s on-demand 4WD system, dubbed All-Mode 4x4i, which is controlled via a rotary switch on the centre console and offers a choice between 2WD, Auto mode or Lock (for permanent 4WD).

The company says a variety of electronic systems have been engineered for the new model, including two world firsts for the segment in active damping (dubbed ‘active ride control’) and ‘active engine brake’ that adds a degree of engine braking while cornering or when decelerating in models equipped with the Xtronic continuously variable transmission.

Also developed for the vehicle is ‘active trace control’ that looks to be similar to a torque vectoring system that can automatically brake individual wheels as required, while a hill-holder (‘uphill start support’) and an upgraded hill-descent control system have come along for the ride as well.

Powertrain details and key specifications are still to be divulged, with Nissan saying only that it has reduced weight wherever possible with the new X-Trail – which has a longer wheelbase and larger surface area than the current model – and that it has also downsized its engines.

Count on a continuation of both petrol and diesel options, with class-competitive performance and fuel consumption. The latter will benefit from the SUV’s smoother surfaces and attention to detail in aerodynamic terms, including a spoiler that covers the exhaust box and rear panel.

On the weight-saving front, Nissan says the tailgate is largely plastic, saving 7kg compared to today’s version, while loading convenience goes up a notch, too, with the introduction of a power-assisted tailgate with remote operation.

LED daytime running lights have arrived with the new generation, extending to LED headlights (for both high and low beams) on high-grade models. New 19-inch alloy wheels are also fitted at the top of the range.

The redesign brings the X-Trail up to date with its rivals in terms of in-car communications technology, including the latest version of the NissanConnect infotainment system that includes smartphone connectivity, a large seven-inch colour touchscreen and Bluetooth audio streaming.

Nissan is also claiming the driver will also benefit from “one of the most advanced meter displays yet seen” with a five-inch TFT colour screen incorporating 12 graphic displays covering a range of details such as average and actual speeds, sat-nav instructions, audio content, traffic sign recognition, eco driving advice and torque distribution settings in 4WD mode.

As well as beefing up onboard technology, Nissan has attempted to give the X-Trail a more upmarket feel with new surface treatments such as a combination of chrome, geometric metallic and piano-back finishes, improved cloth fabrics and better quality leather seats with contrasting stitch accents.

The back doors now open to almost 80 degrees to improve access to the rear seats, the extra wheelbase length and sculpted front seatbacks liberate more knee-room for centre-row occupants, the middle row seats recline and slide, and the third row (where fitted) folds forward to increase luggage space.

The cargo area offers more storage options than the current model with a new ‘double load’ floor built in.

The new-generation X-Trail is due in Australia in the first half of next year, following its international launch in the first quarter.

As GoAuto has reported, a new-generation Dualis is expected around the same time, completing Nissan’s overhaul of its SUV department that includes this year’s all-new Patrol and, before the year is out, the lightweight Juke and fully redesigned monocoque-chassis mid-size Pathfinder.

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