The all-new Nissan X-Trail has had a complete facelift inside and out, but does it hit the spot? Kate Ginn finds out
My current car is a first generation Nissan X-Trail and it’s no exaggeration to say that it has changed my life on the road. I used to rent a saloon and never felt safe on the suburban racetrack that Muscat can sometimes feel like. I was fed up with SUVs and minibuses bullying me out of the way.
Then I switched to renting an X-Trail and overnight everything changed. Tailgating still happens, of course, but nowhere near as much, while minibus drivers give way to me now.
I was very interested to see how the latest incarnation of the X-Trail would compare. For starters, the look is a dramatic change. While the second generation saw a slight reworking in 2007, this new version is an altogether different beast. The boxy look and sharp edges have been softened with rounded, flowing curves, to bring it much more in line with other SUVs. Some may justifiably argue that by doing so, the X-Trail has lost the rather unique look of its predecessor, but I side with the camp that says a major revamp was long overdue.
The angular headlights (with LED daytime running lights) integrated into a sleek version of the traditional three-piece grille, are striking and more modern looking, while the body lines flow like never before.
There are different variants available and Oman has three – the S, SV and SL. I was driving the top-of-the-range, which comes with a leather interior and all sorts of treats including a navigation system. It’s also a seven-seater, with a third row, which can be stored down and simply pulled up from the boot when needed. It would be a very small seven-seater and only children could be accommodated in the third row seats. Even the second row looked a bit of a squeeze for more than two adults.
Inside is where you really notice how much the X-Trail has come on. My own X-Trail is about as basic as you can get with just a few dials and only tape deck, while even the base model of the new generation offers a plush looking interior.
Best of all, the instrument cluster has been moved from the centre of the dashboard to immediately in front of the driver, which works so much better. I’m not a fan of having to take my eyes off the road to check the dials.
The leather upholstery gives it a premium feel and the power panoramic moonroof gives you that “wind in your hair” feeling.
I had no problems finding my way around the navigation and entertainment system, and NissanConnect puts a range of music, social media and networking apps at your fingertips. This can be controlled via buttons on the steering wheel, as can the handsfree telephone system.
So what’s the drive like? The steering is a little heavy for my liking and a stamp down on the accelerator is followed by a slight pause before the engine kicks in. When it does, though, there are no complaints with a smooth, quiet ride and excellent handling round corners. One niggle is that the moonroof seemed to vibrate when travelling at speeds less than 100kph, which could be annoying on a long journey.
Practicality has been improved and the intuitive 4WD means the car is as capable off-road as it is on. You can choose full-time 2WD for maximum efficiency or Auto Mode, which constantly monitors conditions and adjusts the balance of power between front and rear wheels for best traction. When conditions get challenging, the 4WD Lock Mode is on hand.
There’s also a hill assist button, which will guide you down a slope without the need to use the brakes.
As a cheaper crossover SUV for a family wanting a good city car and some off-road thrills from time-to-time, the X-Trail could be a front runner.
Engine: 2.5L, 16-valve, 4-cylinder
Transmission: CVT Auto 6-speed with 4WD
Price: From RO10,950 (base 2WD model)
Check this out:
Push button start (only 4WD)
AC with rear vents
Bluetooth with music streaming
Cup holder with cooling vents
Hill Start Assist
7-inch LCD screen with navigation system
18-inch alloy wheels
Audio system with CD
Dual airbags (side and curtain airbags with 4WD)