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Reader test: Nissan X-Trail

2009-09-17 07:33

Johan Rothman

Have you ever seen a driver with a smile on his face that looks like he knows something you don't? That's because no matter what you might think of his vehicle, he knows that he has made the right choice.
After much comparison on price, performance, size and specifications, I decided to go for a bottom of the range 2.0 dCi 4x2 XE X-Trail. Every other vehicle in the compact SUV segment had something which I did not like, which includes value for money, size both too small and too big, exterior looks, interior look and feel or just being Korean.
I chose the entry model because I don't need fancy gadgets to make me feel important, like multi disk CD player, climate control, leather seats with seat warmers and buttons on the steering wheel offered on the high-spec models. It has a CD player, air-conditioning, cloth
seats and high ground clearance (203mm). I don't need the extra buttons on the steering wheel, thank you.
As I prefer to not travel off-road, but like the raised ride height, I opted for the 4X2 option. I feel that paying around 80k extra for four-wheel drive is not worth it if it will not be used. There is also the additional maintenance costs and fuel consumption to keep in mind.

A gem
The engine is a real gem. 90% of the 320Nm torque is available from 1750 r/min. It can overtake in spectacular fashion if you stick to third and fourth.  There is the obvious turbo lag low down if you get caught off guard.

Fuel consumption is excellent; the manufacturers claims are right on target. I have averaged 6.6 l/100 km for the last 5 000 km, which does not include any long distance trips. The low ratio of sixth gear and weighing in at only 1 535 kg must also contribute to these figures.
Ride is on the soft side, but thanks to the multi-link setup at the back there is less than expected body roll. Steering feels just right, but lacks feedback.
Design is evolutionary inside and out, so you will find everything where it should be. The tidy instrument cluster is now moved back to where it should be: in front of the driver. The driver's seat is a very comfortable place to be, and I'm actually looking forward to doing long trips. With its huge boot, there is no need to pack the hatch to the brim for a weekend to the coast anymore.
It might not be prettiest or fastest, and lack four wheel drive, but it is a very comfortable, practical and affordable cruiser. It does exactly what you would expect it to do, and it does it very well. It will not make you stand out from the crowd, but if you are the kind of person
that chooses not the make a statement with your choice of vehicle, then the X-Trail will put that smile on your face.

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