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X-Trail marks compact spot for Nissan

For the road: The X-Trail is built on a monocoque chassis for on-road refinement.

Nissan is set to unveil a contender for the booming compact four-wheel drive market

Nissan logo4 Sep 2000

NISSAN has revealed first pictures of its new compact four-wheel drive called X-Trail, which it will unveil at the Paris Motor Show later this month.

But Nissan Australia says it has not yet decided whether to import the five-door wagon, despite booming sales in the compact category for the Honda CR-V and Subaru Forester.

"We're looking at it, just as we look at everything," said Nissan Australia spokesman Mr Brad Leach. "It all depends on whether we can make money out of it." Mr Leach said a decision would probably not be made until Nissan Australia executives had a chance to view a prototype in the flesh when it came to Australia for testing purposes.

The X-Trail is constructed from a car-like monocoque and is believed to have four-wheel independent suspension. X-Trail is powered by a 2.0-litre engine, as are the CR-V and Forester.

Official pictures of the X-Trail show a design more angular than the Honda or Toyota's new RAV4, with suggestions of Jeep's Cherokee around the slightly squared-off wheel arches.

The grille is reminiscent of the heavy-duty Patrol with its V centre section encasing the Nissan badge.

The X-Trail showcases what Nissan claims is "a class-leading 4x4 system" employing drive-by-wire technology designed to provide outstanding throttle control in slippery conditions.

Safety features include an Electronic Stability Program (ESP) with traction control.

Interior pictures of the car are yet to be released but Nissan says textured durable materials are used together with formed aluminium for detail features.

Rugged lining replaces traditional carpet in the cargo area, allowing the loadspace to be washed clean after exploiting the vehicle's off-road role.

Considering Nissan's strong off-road heritage, the X-Trail would be a neat fit alongside the heavy-duty Patrol and medium-sized Pathfinder.

Project leader of X-Trail development, Mr Tetsuo Shimizu, said: "The X-Trail concept is Nissan's answer to the challenge of matching excellent road holding and driving enjoyment with good off-road ability".

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