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Reader test: Nissan X-Trail

2009-09-21 07:36

Richard Fitzpatrick, Cape Town

With its squared off dimensions and nudge-bar at the front, the X-Trail looks somewhere between Kobus Wiese and Lurch from the Adams Family... with a lisp
Still, it's not an unattractive car.

Equipment levels are pretty good with leather seats, gear lever and steering wheel, air-con, power steering that road testers would call "meaty", electric windows all round , alloys, 6 CD shuttle and running boards that are the perfect height for the insistent Big Issue seller to jump on as you speed away from the robots.
There's also a sun roof that makes the interior squeak and creak like a newly-wed couples headboard.

So you could say it's a bit pimped. Not in a capital P, Hollywood Madame, way. More of a lower case p, Somerset Road, Green Point, way!


The performance from the 2.5-litre engine can be compared to the fat kid at your son's sports day. It tries very hard but it's never going to win any medals, it's willing enough, but unlike your mate's sister, it's a no go!

Nissan say you should get 11.3 l /100 km and, remarkably, you can. I've had as good as 9.5 l/100 km, but don’t invite me round to dinner to tell you how.

The ride is on the Max Mosley side of firm, not hard, but your backside certainly knows what's going on.

The dashboard plastics are what Nissan call "easy to clean". What they really mean is "cheap and nasty", especially the silver centre console which looks like it was lifted from a 70s Japanese radio. The stereo buttons are small and fiddly and the air-con buttons are even smaller and fiddlier!


The air-con itself is weak and the vents badly positioned, your hands will eventually freeze while your body will boil, and with no rear vents, and it can get bloody hot in the back. On a hot summer's day, after the kids have had everything they wanted and are still moaning, you can get some parental pay-back by throwing them on the back seats and listening to the screams with a wry smile on your face as they braai themselves on the leather! Don't pull that face; you've done it, or at least you've wanted to.

Rear legroom isn't bad, certainly much better than the new X-Trail which looks like Nissan had Douglas Bader in mind when they made it.

So, a bit of a mixed bag this X-Trail, but once you add in it's practicability – the rear seats fold flat to give a very large load bay, it's reliability – 2003 model nothing has gone wrong, it's decent fuel consumption and it's "go about as far as you would really want to" 4X4 system, it would be a very difficult car to give up.

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