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First look: Nissan springs all-new X-Trail

Grown up: Nissan's designers intentionally kept to the original X-Trail formula while making it bigger and more refined.

Nissan's evolutionary second-generation SUV coming here late this year

8 Mar 2007

NISSAN caught everyone by surprise at the Geneva Motor Show opening on Tuesday night when it revealed a new X-Trail that looks similar to the old model but which is actually all-new and notably bigger.

The second-generation X-Trail is built on the Renault Megane platform, which it shares with the recently previewed Nissan Dualis, a cross between a compact SUV and small hatchback that will be sold here from late this year alongside the X-Trail.

For overseas markets, the new X-Trail offers a new turbo-diesel engine option sourced from parent company Renault (replacing the previous Nissan 2.2-litre non-turbo).

The new 2.0-litre common-rail turbo-diesel produces 110kW of power at 4000rpm and 320Nm of torque at 2000rpm – or, fitted with an intercooler, 127kW at 3750 and 360Nm at 2000rpm.

However, Australian buyers will have to make do with a slightly revised version of the current 2.5-litre petrol engine when X-Trail makes its local debut at the Sydney motor show in October.

It will go on sale here in December or January.

A Nissan Australia spokesman said that the company would look at a business case for a diesel X-Trail some time next year.

Figures released at Geneva suggest that the revised petrol engine will produce an extra 1kW of power offer while torque is 3Nm higher at 233Nm, but produced 400rpm higher at 4400rpm.

Local specifications will not be revealed until the Sydney launch, but the Geneva specs have the petrol engine linked to a standard six-speed manual gearbox or optional constantly variable transmission (CVT) whereas the Australian model currently comes with a five-speed manual or four-speed auto.

The part-time 4x4 system is a refined version of the existing one, again with a dash-mounted switch between 2WD and auto modes. It includes an uphill start mode, which automatically holds the vehicle on the brakes on a slope of more than 10 per cent until the driver moves away, and an automatic descent model that uses the standard ABS (now with EBD) to hold the vehicle at a steady 7km/h so the driver can concentrate on steering.

Distinguished externally by its extended wheelarches and longer tail, the most notable visable difference over the current model is inside with the departure of the characteristic and somewhat controversial central instrument panel.

12 center imageNissan’s designers have instead opted for a more conventional set of instruments located ahead of the driver, essentially to allow the central dash area to accommodate modern equipment like a satellite navigation screen and dash-top storage box (big enough to hold a tissue box!).

The new X-Trail’s wheelbase is only 5mm longer than the current model, but overall length has grown by 175mm – at a cost for those venturing off-road, with the departure angle deteriorating from 25 degrees to 23 degrees. However, the ride height is slightly better – up 5mm to 200mm – while the approach angle remains at 28 degrees.

Most of the extra overall length is in the rear, with a resultant massive increase in luggage capacity from 410 litres to 603 litres (or 479 litres if you don’t include the new sliding drawer under the floor for storing valuables out of sight).

This new sliding drawer includes removable partitions and was made possible by re-routing of the exhaust silencer from an east-west position under the floor to a north-south location behind alongside the rear wheel well.

Width has been increased by 20mm for extra shoulder space for the occupants while the height has increased by 10mm. Fuel tank capacity has also increased, by a handy 7 litres to 67 litres, providing longer fuel range.

Nissan describes its approach to the second-generation X-Trail as "evolutionary change" because of the success of the original (which regained market leadership from the Toyota RAV-4 in Australia in February, for the first time in m ore than a year).

“The message coming back was that we changed the X-Trail formula at our peril,” said Nissan Europe product planning chief Pierre Loing. “The original was loved by its owners and many didn’t want us to change a thing. It was a problem, certainly, but a nice one to have.”

The original X-Trail was launched six years ago and has sold considerably hgihwer worldwide than expected. Global production has reached 615,000.

“There is no denying that the first X-Trail was an exceptional success,” said Mr Loing. “It was the right vehicle at the right time, a hugely capable compact SUV with serious off-road credentials.

“It also enjoyed a very high degree of customer loyalty with repeat purchases accounting for as much as 30 per cent of all sales. So when they asked us not to change anything, we listened. But that didn’t stop us improving on the original.

“The latest X-Trail is an all-new vehicle, but one which builds on the considerable success of its predecessor rather than trying to be something different.

“We have taken a highly regarded vehicle and improved it in every area. Although it is all-new, it is an evolutionary rather than revolutionary design, on the basis that we should build on what was already a success.”

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