Driven. The 2018 Nissan X-Trail.

Nissan’s new X-Trail, sits in a very crowded crossover SUV segment. Will it be a strong contender? We find out in Lebanon.

Engine Power Torque 0-100kph Top speed Weight Price
2.5 Litre DOHC 16-valve 4-cylinder engine
169hp @ 6,000rpm 233Nm (172lb ft) @ 4,000rpm NA NA 1,637kg Dh87-129,000
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From the top you have the new VW, Audi and Volvo models, while in the mid sections you find offerings from Toyota, Honda, Nissan and Hyundai. But from the bottom a growing army of Chinese manufacturers is getting ready for battle.

And how are they doing it? By cementing the main five pillars in car distribution: dealer network, service network, finance facilities, fleet sales and brand recognition. Don’t believe me? If I mention to you about the new MG SUV, you are familiar with it, right? Well, MG is a Chinese brand now.

What this means for us, the humble consumers, is more value for the same amount of money. More technology, a trickle down of features till now available only in premium models and apparently higher quality materials. Also better attention to styling and, when possible, a whiff of luxury.

Nissan tackles this motoring landscape from a position of power. Shipping 835,000 units of the X-Trail in 2016, the model garners 14% market share, right behind Toyota’s RAV4, Kia’s Sportage and Hyundai’s Tucson with 17%, 18% and 20% respectively – a comfortable situation were it not for the aforementioned awakening dragon.

From the outside, the new X-Trail features five new colours including a super funky Orange we really enjoyed, along with new LED headlights and a widened ‘V-Motion’ grille. Behind we have full LED rear lights and chrome details that spread on the sides through the foot sill, door handles and roof rack.

In terms of practicality, a small area behind the rear wheel is a ‘kick starter’ for the tailgate, allowing hands free access to the boot. In this area, Nissan’s engineers have designed a large array of luggage stowing options that allow shelves and dividers in up to nine configurations. Or you could just go for the seven-seater option for that one occasion in the car’s lifetime when your kids want to bring an extra friend who doesn’t fit.

But what surprises most is the interior, with levels of refinement and features that rival more premium models. As such, the highest specification now includes a tan leather option. The steering wheel’s dimensions now take into consideration that you should probably be able to see the dashboard, and therefore it’s been enlarged by 17% at the top, and flattened at the bottom. It actually feels as sporty as Nissan intended.

Another welcome feature is a kneepad on either side of the centre console, and the cooling vents on the cup holders. Yes, you read it right, cooling cupholders in this segment. They have a neat plastic separator that you use to set the cooling vents toward your fizzy drink and keep it cool. And they work brilliantly.

But the height of the technical enhancements of the X-Trail comes with the ‘Intelligent Mobility’ features. An array of technologies that ends with Level 5 autonomous driving, that deserve a book on its own and that, hopefully, we’ll be able to report on shortly.

On the new X-Trail, Nissan has introduced intelligent emergency brakes with rear side traffic sensors, Adaptive Cruise Control, which is not prevalent at this price point, and, most of all, the Intelligent Rear View Mirror. At the touch of a button on the mirror, it turns into an LCD screen connected to the rear camera, giving you an unimpeded view of what’s happening behind you. It does take a bit to get used to, but once you do, you won’t want to get back to the traditional format.

Additional features are the 360 degree view for tight parking, the auto hold, for holding the car stationary on slopes and front collision warning. All in all, a rather comprehensive tech package.

On the road, the X-Trail shows its true focus. And that is, ‘take you to wherever you need to go, on time, and in a comfortable manner’. As such, the drive is uninspiring. The 2.5-litre engine develops the same 167bhp and 172lb-ft it did before, and it is paired with the CVT transmission Nissan seems to like so much. Combined with a ballast of around 1,637kg they make the task of picking up speed a time consuming affair. Brakes are efficient and the suspension won’t allow you to hit the apex. Similarly, the body roll will not slosh you around the cabin like a cocktail shaker. It’s “a bit meh” overall but it seems that’s just what Nissan intended for a car that does not aim to be sporty, nor pretends to.

On price, the new X-Trail stands at Dh87-129,000 range. Fitting right there with its Toyota and Honda rivals, and slightly higher than market leaders Hyundai and Kia. A tiny bit more expensive than last year’s model, but packing more than its worth in features. A good buy overall, the new X-Trail merits further investigation.

Categories: Road

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