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Nissan set to launch 2WD X-Trail

X factor: Nissan hopes to boost X-Trail sales with the addition of 2WD variants in both entry-level ST and higher-spec ST-L guise early next year.

Sub-$30,000 starting price expected for 2WD X-Trail as Nissan confirms January debut

5 Nov 2010

NISSAN Australia announced this week that it will add two-wheel drive variants of its X-Trail to its model range in January, boosting sales volume for the popular compact SUV with pricing that should start below $30,000.

The company’s brand manager for SUVs and light commercials Andrew Holbrook said that in 2011, one in three vehicle sales in the popular compact SUV segment were expected to be 2WD-only versions.

The move with X-Trail follows a strong response to the 2WD variant of its Dualis crossover since its launch in mid-2009, with the front-drive model now accounting for around 90 per cent of Dualis sales.

12 center imageFrom top: Nissan X-Trail, Mitsubishi Outlander 2WD, Toyota RAV4 2WD.

The 2WD uptake for X-Trail is not expected to be as high because the vehicle is seen as more of an all-roader, but Nissan Australia’s head of corporate communications Jeff Fisher said the new variant should add incremental sales rather than cannibalising 4WD sales.

The 2WD X-Trail will only be available in the entry-level ST and higher-spec ST-L variants equipped with the 125kW/226Nm 2.5-litre four-cylinder petrol engine.

Higher-series Ti, TS and TL variants and all diesel-powered models will remain AWD for now.

While pricing is yet to be confirmed for the 2WD X-Trail, in the Dualis the 2WD sells for just $2000 less than the AWD equivalent.

Two-wheel drive offers a slight weight saving over AWD and hence fuel saving but loses the safety benefits of all-wheel traction.

The AWD petrol ST X-Trail currently retails for $31,990 with a six-speed manual transmission or $34,490 with a CVT. The ST-L variant of the same model starts from $38,490 and is available only with the CVT.

Only a few years ago X-Trail was a serious competitor for top place in the compact SUV segment along with Toyota RAV4 and Subaru Forester, but more recently it has fallen behind these two vehicles and in 2010 is also being outsold by Mazda’s CX-7.

Both Toyota and Mazda offer 2WD variants of their compact SUVs, while ironically the AWD-only Forester remains the segment leader this year.

Mitsubishi recently released a 2WD version of its Outlander compact SUV while others models offering both 2WD and AWD variants include the Mitsubishi ASX, Kia Sportage, Hyundai ix35 and Renault Koleos.

The X-Trail recently underwent a midlife makeover of the almost four-year-old T31-series model. The changes centred on revised styling with new bumpers, grille and headlights at the front and updated dashboard, trim and specifications inside.

Larger 17- and 18-inch wheels and tyres give the X-Trail a bigger stance while revisions to both the petrol and diesel engines improve fuel efficiency.

The 2.5-litre petrol engine drops to 9.1L/100km consumption with either manual or CVT transmissions, down from 9.3L/100km (manual) and 9.5L/100km (CVT).

The 2.0-litre turbo-diesel drops to 7.2L/100km (manual), down from 7.5, while the six-speed automatic falls from 8.1L/100km to 7.4L/100km.

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