Nissan chose a blustery Port Elizabeth for the South African launch of the new version of their medium family SUV, the X-Trail. With bold claims that the X-trail was the originator of this now massive market segment there is a lot riding on the new version.
Nissan are on a bold marketing offensive in South Africa with their entire passenger vehicle range due for change or revision over the next 6 months. The X-Trail is also the first vehicle in the range to feature what Nissan have labelled NIM, or Nissan Intelligent Mobility. This will feature very strongly in all future Nissan products and centers around their suite of Intelligent safety features in their vehicles.
Having sold in excess of 36 000 units since launching the original X-trail in SA in 2004, there is a lot riding on the new version. The exterior may not show too many changes, with updates to the grille, lights and tail lights. Overall, I think it looks neater, stronger and definitely more modern.
The major changes take place on the interior and this is dominated by a large central screen on the top of the range Tekna specification vehicles that we sampled on the launch. NIM features many items including lane departure, active braking and cruise control, cross traffic warning and many others. An integral part of the system is the 360 degree camera system that connects all of these systems, plus gives the driver comprehensive information on the screen inside the car.
Tekna spec also includes all the usual luxuries such as full leather trim, sunroof and dual zone climate control. AWD is a further feature of these versions which simply enhances the ride and control of the vehicle on long sections of dirt road experienced on the launch. Nissan also claim that the X-trail is the only competitor in this segment to offer a 7 seat option.
The new X-trail is available with 3 engine options, 2l and 2.5l petrol and 1.6l turbo diesel. On the launch we sampled the 2.5 with CVT automatic transmission and the diesel in 6 speed manual. As much as CVT transmissions are often criticised, the vehicle was exceptionally smooth and I felt that the engine and transmission were well matched giving very smooth and comfortable progress.
The 1.6 turbo diesel is a peach of a motor, although I always personally prefer an automatic gearbox in an SUV. According to Nissan, research shows that demand for this combination is dropping but they did not rule out adding this option if needed.
Overall, with prices ranging from R369 900 to R469 900 and all vehicles including Nissan’s 6 year/ 150 000km warranty, 3 year/ 90 000km service plan and 24 hour roadside assist I feel that Nissan can easily regain their place among the leaders in this segment.