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Rating 9 9

Nissan X-trial 2.0 Diesel

9th Dec 2009 8:00 am

Sometimes a car hits the spot and delivers just what customers want


  • Make : Nissan
  • Model : X-trail

If some of you are confused as to why we are testing the X-Trail for the second time around, look closer at the  pictures. Though this car may look similar to the earlier X-Trail, it’s actually an all-new car. Every part and every  panel is new and the derived styling, Nissan says, is due to the phenomenal success and almost cult-like following of  the earlier version. Nissan shifted more than 800,000 X-Trails globally with the old model, and customers and fans want  Nissan to retain the car’s unique identity and look. It’s for this reason that you get a similar square-rigged glasshouse, the vertically aligned tail-lamps as well as a  similar nose. Of course, the design differs in these areas as well and is more fleshed out and robust in general, but  look at the car in isolation and it’s easy to get confused. Keen spotters though need only to look at the outsized triangular headlamps to identify the car. The new car also gets Nissan’s SUV grille and a prominent horizontal line or  step in the body that runs along the flanks. Designed to be the automotive equivalent of a trekking boot, the X-Trail looks hard-wearing and as tough as rhino hide, but the boxy and angular shape doesn’t make it a stunner.

The X-Trial is built on the Renault-Nissan alliance C-platform that is shared with the Qashquai. More car like in its basic structure than rock-crawling SUV, it uses a monocoque chassis, all-independent suspension, electric power steering  and transversely located engine that primarily powers the front wheels. But there are special bits that make it suitable for more extreme off-road action. Both the front and rear suspension are connected to the body by a rubber-insulated  sub-frame to mask the cabin from the workings below, there’s a lockable four-wheel-drive system to help when things  really get sticky or loose, and you get a version of hill descent control and hill start too. What you also get are  dampers that adjust automatically or frequency selective damping. They go soft on a bumpy road, triggered by the sharp  frequency of the bumps but firm up if they detect longer waves, such as when the car is rolling. There’s also ESP and  six airbags.

The X-Trail’s robust look is carried over to the inside of the car as well. There’s a hard-wearing quality to the  plastics and the surfaces you come in contact with all feel like they will not age or begin to rattle in any great  hurry. Also, many of the interiors’ moving parts have that damped, rubberised feel that lends them an air of longevity.  Sure, there are some ordinary bits like some of the switches ahead of the gear lever and the quality of the central  console-mounted box, but these are more the exception. Compared to the earlier car that had the centrally located  instrument cluster, the design of this dash is more traditional. A clear and legible instrument pod, Nissan’s  beautifully crafted steering wheel with a dimpled leather grip and faux aluminium inserts, a massive glovebox and clever 
cooled bottleholders behind the vents.

You get a proliferation of pockets behind the passenger seat, a massive sunroof on this version and rear seats that fold flat to create a huge 1773-litre loading bay. You can also take out the entire  plastic and rubber loading floor and hose the entire thing down, making it easy to keep clean. And there is even a very  practical drawer in the boot that helps prevent loose objects from sliding around at the rear.

Passenger comfort is also very good. The seats have just the right amount of give in them, generous amounts of thigh  support and since both front seats are powered, convenience levels are very high too. There’s a good amount of legroom  at the rear as well, and the seats are similarly supportive and comfortable, with a rear air-con vent cooling the back seats quicker. While the rear of the X-Trail is more comfortable than the Chevy Captiva, tall passengers will find headroom a bit tight at the rear. And lateral support isn’t great either, so the seats don’t hold you easily during spirited cornering. Also, the front door pockets are shallow as well and there are none at the rear. What will keep you 
humming along though is a six-CD changer and audio system that displays impressive clarity and punch, even at high volumes.

At home on city streets, the highway or off-road, the X-Trail is truly comfortable in any and all driving environments. 
Nissan’s inclusion of frequency selective dampers means this car both rides well over poor roads and handles securely at high speeds. Though ride quality can get a bit lumpy at times, especially over poorly patched up roads, ride in general is pliant enough. The suspension is relatively silent in operation and most surfaces are swallowed up without any complaint. With its light steering and good agility, the Nissan is also a dolly to drive in traffic. You aren’t intimidated by the size of this SUV because it can be steered so easily and the high bonnet and fenders are visible from the driver’s seat, making it easy to place the car – always a hit with women drivers. The slight lumpiness disappears once you are upto speed and straightline stability is very good too.

The steering may be an electric unit, but it’s direct and there even seems to be some amount of feel. The X-Trail rolls a bit as you turn into a corner but soon settles down and sticks to its line. It’s an enthusiastic handler if you push it and takes well to being driven with a bit of verve and energy. Though the brakes are good and grip is plenty, it’s no CR-V. But then nothing really ever is.

The X-Trail, however, is more effective off-road than any of its soft-roader cousins. Though it is not in the league  of the Pajero and lacks much of that car’s serious hardware, the chassis may not be able to cope with some extreme drops, still the X-Trail will manage a good 60 percent of what the extreme brigade can. There’s a hill descent control, the lockable four-wheel-drive system takes you through a lot and don’t forget it has a very favourable torque-to-weight ratio. Whichever way you look at it, this is a great all-rounder.

Nissan X-trial 2.0 Diesel
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