Eric Tipan / Kelvin Christian Go | April 04, 2018 01:32
Smart, safe and sleek utility
Launched locally in 2014, the third-generation Nissan X-Trail competes in a very challenging segment as manufacturers come in with models offering more than just good looks and efficiency. Nissan got busy last year as it focused on the X-Trail, giving it two major updates, which should spark renewed interest in the model and give it a leg-up over the competition.
Storming into the market with a refreshed exterior and interior, and a brand-spanking new innovative safety suite package, we take the top trim 2018 Nissan X-Trail on a weekend to see what's up.
Making its global debut in June last year, the updated X-Trail gets a more pronounced V-motion face, a full realization of the design language. It gets thicker elements, a taller and wider grille, the boomerang lamp signature clearly seen on more prominent LED daytime running lamps and the restyled contemporary bumper. The rear also gets retouched with LED taillights and chrome detailing on the lower part of the bumper.
Black on black is always a good place to start for cabin color. Leather on the seats is pretty taut making the seats appear firm and luxurious.
Because of the excellent color layout, it was hard to tell the improvements made inside but after looking more closely I noticed that the steering was has been reshaped, given a sportier, horizontal bottom and new buttons for audio and hands-free calls.
The infotainment system may seem rudimentary with very few buttons. It comes with only the basic ones – FM/AM, Bluetooth CD, Media, Display, down and up tracking buttons, iPod/Menu and the Back button.
But that’s actually what makes it easy to figure out and use. With all controls plain and straightforward, you’ll have to be really tech-challenged if you need to pause for thought before switching between the radio, CD or the various media available. The most complicated thing you may encounter is pairing your mobile device to ‘My Car’, but seriously, how hard can that be?
The real gem of the X-Trail’s latest iteration lies in the various scenes or live videos you see on the infotainment monitor when you press the Display (‘Disp’ button).
If you’re on any gear except reverse, press the button once and this is what you’ll see – the front camera video showing what’s ahead and takes up about 2/3 of the screen. The remainder shows a top-view of the vehicle and its proximity to objects/vehicles around it. Press the button again and the secondary view gives you a live camera shot showing the other vehicle on the far side of the driver (right side). Very neat if I do say so myself.
Reversing is made easier now as the backup camera shows what’s directly behind the vehicle on the main view so that you can really snuggle up to that parking slot. The smaller view still shows that top, 360-degree view so that your distance between the two vehicle on the left and right are even-steven.
This is made possible by four cameras taking a 360-degree look around the vehicle to make sure you aren’t getting too close for comfort to anything on the road. Do note that the system automatically shuts down the video once you exceed 10 kilometers per hour.
Aside from forward and reverse movements, these cameras also monitor vehicles along the blind spot of the driver. Whether or not you’re turning, a light indicator found on the inside of where the side-view mirror attaches to the door lights up when there’s a vehicle coming up alongside you or even a vehicle you just passed if you’re overtaking. This ensures that whether or not you plan to merge left or right, you’re making informed decisions.
Performance is its number 2 great quality. The 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine is snappy as long as you don’t engage the Eco button. It’s quick to engage, which makes it lunge forward if you’ve got a heavy foot, so remember to go easy on the throttle. Output figures are at 171 PS at 6000 rpm along with 233 Nm of torque at 4000 rpm.
While the cabin maintains really low levels of noise, vibration and harshness (NVH) from the road, the roar from under the hood comes through audibly. It won’t struggle to overtake even on inclines but you will literally hear the engine revving if you mash on the throttle.
Cabin comfort feels closer to a sedan and less SUV-like but with the benefit of higher ground clearance. The firm seats could be cushier; but like wine, this will age better with time, granted it’s used (properly) and not abused.
Rollover resistance around corners isn’t very high due to its high center of mass but that’s not too say you can’t have fun with it – just don’t have too much fun. Steering feels rather light for a seven-seater but you’ll appreciate that if you’re a city dweller as it’s easy on the arms if you like switching lanes all the time in traffic.
Automatic Emergency Braking is a new safety feature but it would take a near-accident to trigger the system. While it may have gone untested, it’s reassuring to every driver that it’s in the back pocket should a collision be unavoidable.
The X-Trail looks really good, especially with the updated V-motion design. It’s a lot sharper, stylish and with these new safety features inside, it ain’t genius-level yet, but you can bet that it’s smarter and safer than half of the cars on the road right now.