By Theodore Opara
Stallion NMN, the Nissan sales company in Nigeria has unveiled the third generation (T32-series) Nissan X-Trail and second generation Nissan Qashqai at a media brief in Lagos, where local automobile media later put the vehicles to test from the Stallion NMN Gbagada showroom to Victoria Island Lagos. The two new models reflect Nissan’s pedigree in the production of state of the arts SUV.
The arrival of the all new X-Trail is expected to change the perception of fond admirers of the predecessor model that over the years gained reputation for its practical, go-anywhere compact SUV slogan with generous load space and towing capability.
Now completely transformed to a fashionable, safer and more family-oriented SUV with a new variant offering a seven-seat capacity, the new X-Trail is an epitome of innovation, incorporating new design dynamics and different marketing direction, 14 years after it made a debut.
Nissan says the new X-Trail took its design clues from the Juke, Pathfinder and Murano crossovers, trading off the much desired boxy lines and upright stance for trendier and fashionable styling.
Notable contenders in this segment include Suzuki Grand Vitara, Ford Escape, Mazda Tribute, Hyundai Santa Fe, Honda CR-V and Toyota RAV4.
Nissan has no doubt upped the ante for equipment levels in the new X-Trail, donning 18″ alloy wheels, push button start, LED daytime running lights, cruise control, dual zone climate control, rear seat air conditioner vent with shut vent as well as intelligent key and panic alarm with Bluetooth phone connectivity and music streaming. These are class leading features for comfort.
The new X-Trail’s cabin itself is a significant improvement over the utilitarian fit-out in the old model, with plenty of soft touch surfaces and bruised metallic accents, and ergonomically layout.
Coupled with this is a height-adjustable driver’s seat and front armrest with airy and spacious cabin to deliver very comfortable space up front. The middle row seats can slide and recline in a 60/40 split with plenty head and legroom for adults to lounge in comfort.
The overall effect is an interior that looks and feels decidedly more premium with a new steering wheel, instrument cluster and a liberal spread of piano black plastics that complete the makeover.
A crystal-clear five inch LCD screen located in the centre of the instrument cluster displays the vehicle power between the front and rear axles, helping to give the driver information on available traction and control that is needed. The Advanced Drive Assist Display provides information directly in front of the driver to minimize time looking away from the road.
The X-Trail’s safety shield features include Hill Start Assist, Vehicle Dynamic Control (VDC), Electronic Brake Force Distribution (EBD), Anti-Lock Brake System (ABS) and SRS Airbags System. This is in addition to the ‘zero-gravity’ inspired front seats that are superbly cushioned and wonderfully designed to make long stints behind the wheel a real pleasure.
There are modest dimensional gains too – 30mm of width, 10mm of height, and 5mm in length – but the result is a new X-Trail that looks as large as a Nissan Pathfinder.
Unlike the old model, the second row seats are now on rails that allow them to slide, as well as recline with a 40/20/40 split-fold layout. The result is substantially more rear legroom and easy access to the third row, where applicable.
Passengers in the second row can also sit elevatedin stadium style, while children in the third row enjoy improved visibility from correspondingly raised seats.
There’s also a new rear storage system, known as Divide-N-Hide, which Nissan claims can be configured 18 different ways.
Under the bonnet, the X-Trail’s 2.5-litre petrol engine is essentially a carryover from its predecessor, with just an extra kilowatt of power added to increase output from 125kW to 126kW, but with 233Nm of torque.
Despite gaining an average of around 34kg in heft, the four-cylinder engine still delivers sufficient punch off the line (without feeling sporty), and there’s decent mid-range pull for safe high-speed overtaking on country roads.
The new and improved CVT in the latest Nissan X-Trail is more refined than mostcompetitors – at least under light to moderate loads. However, reduced friction and hydraulic losses mean improved fuel economy of 7.9Litres/100km.
While it wasn’t in the same league as some conventional automatic transmissions, the X-Trail’s CVT was one of the better examples of a kind, ‘changing up’ and occasionally even holding a higher ratio on the run down hills. hill Start Assist served to make the day-to-chore of driving the X-Trail less onerous.