Snapshot: The X-Trail is back in India and promises to be a lot better than the older version. So does it have what it takes to beat established rivals?
The older X-Trail, which is no longer on sale in India was boxy, boring and a bit dull to look at. And that’s probably why it didn’t sell in strong number here. The new version, which will go on sale in the second part of 2016 promises to banish those old images. In fact the car is so different to the one it replaces Nissan have decided to junk the diesel motor and offer a petrol hybrid instead. But more on that later.
This car has the right proportions for an SUV. With its tall stance, big grille up ahead and the scowling headlamps, it does look menacing. The ‘V’ shaped grille in chrome is the highlight and clearly gives the car a classy touch. The daytime running lamps also give it a unique touch. Sharp attention to detail means that this car looks good. There is a discreet ‘hybrid’ badge at the tail gate, which is the only true indicator of its green credential from the outside.
The older car came with dials which were mounted centrally on the console. This new one now houses them in their traditional position ahead of the driver.
This initial version, will be offered only as a five-seater. The battery pack of the hybrid system is placed behind the rear seat which means there is no full size spare wheel. Boot space is also limited a bit due to this.
That said, quality of materials is very good. All the plastics have a solid built to last feel and are bolted well. There is loads of space in both rows for even the tallest passenger. The seats also offer very good cushioning even for the tallest adults. Practicality is good too with plenty of spaces to keep odds and ends.
Engine, performance and gearbox
The X-Trail’s petrol motor generates 145bhp while the electric generates 40bhp. Power is sent to the wheels via a Continuous Variable Transmission (CVT), which is smooth to operate. The car moves from standstill in pure electric mode and the petrol motor only kicks in when the car crosses 30kph or more. The great bit about being on electric power is the fact that the engine feels very responsive. The petrol motor is super refined even when revved and makes the cabin a very peaceful place to be in. The CVT though can let the engine down because it feels like a rubber band when you push the revs.
Ride and handling
The X-Trail comes across as an adroit handler. The steering offers good feedback and is very precise as well. It is impressive in one word. The ride comfort is decent too. Body roll is well under control and that is commendable for such a large car with so much weight. There is a bit of harshness to the ride at slower speeds and some bumps do enter into the cabin. At higher speeds though the car feels very stable. In fact, this is one of the few SUVs which you can truly call fun to drive. The chassis feels very dynamic and it’s relatively lively as well. Overall, this car is great for keen drivers.
Safety and features
The X-Trail comes loaded with multiple airbags, ABS with EBD along with a host of other safety kit. No wonder it has scored the full five stars in its Euro NCAP crash tests. In terms of convenience you get automatic climate control, steering mounted controls for stereo as well as multimedia interface. Most of this equipment will arrive on the car when it is launched later this year.
The latest X-Trail impresses with its looks, dynamic drive and comfort. Being tech-laden and well-built also enhances its desirability greatly. While we are still await the prices, there is no doubt that this is one of the best SUVs for keen drivers.
Images by Mohd. Nasir