'09 Nissan X-Trail Test Driven


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As 'Torque,addict' has written elsewhere about his experience of 'Nissan' in India, let me begin by saying that today - 2/10/09, he finally managed to get the '09 X-Trail for a test drive & duly called me for the same. Am just trying to get a head start on the review of the vehicle before he does, lest I forget [:D] Pics to follow with Torque.addicts review ([thumbsup])
Here goes,

Golden Beige 2.0 ltr diesel X-Trail SLX MT arrived chaka chak for us (Torque & Myself) to play with (Torque) starting the TD process.

Exteriors:-

Generally same as earlier generation model, minor mods done to Head & Tail Lamps (Projector Beams only in SLX), New Bumpers/Grille, Wing Mirrors, Quarter Panel with Kinked Glass & 'D' Pillar. Exterior basically does not impress me much, gives impression of it being more of a station wagon, similar to the Subaru/Chevy Forrestor but with a higher stance.

Tye Size - 215/65 R 17 with bland looking six spoke alloys. Head Lamps are very similar to some of them found on Renault cars, but then thats obvious due to the Nissan/Renault Marriage. Them lamps look quite odd & ugly(Crazy Froggish to me)[lol] Side profile of the vehicle is quite clean & simple, with one ridge like line running just below the glass areas from front to rear. Tail lamps look better than the earlier models, again odd ballish for me - Cost cutting visible in the shape of 1 Fog lamp & 1 Reverse lamp side by side to each other mounted on rear bumper lower end. Tail Gate is well proportioned & easy to open/close. Access to cargo space is well defined & easy to place luggage - heavy ones especially.

Interiors:-

Dashboard looks way better than that of the Fortuner, plus its got the soft touch, ditto for the door pads, arm rests too. Biege/Black combo is not bad, but plastic quality not so great either, especially of the seat claddings & electronic adjustment switches. Instrument panel well laid out easy to see, lack of multi info display glaring, as the blank slot in the centre makes one notice the lack of it immediately! Climate control knobs similar to ones seen in many vehicles so far, bottle holder cubby holes neatly tucked in over end sides air vents, with neat flaps to cover them when not in use, added bonus of these being cooled with AC duct inside - excellent to keep those cans/bottles chilled. Glove box is quite low & oddly placed, quite big & deep for storing miscellaneous items, including 1 litre water bottles. Steering wheel well proportioned with the Cruise Control Switches, but no controls for the ICE - again glaring absence! Quality of switches is good, 4 wheel drive activation switch dial is positioned in front of gear lever, with following settings - 2wd, auto, lock - 0n/0ff. Seats are comfortable with good placement & comfort, only driver's seat has height adjustablilty, both front seats have electronic adjustments buttons placed at sides. Quality of leather on seats is markedly better than that of the Fortuner. Centre console has the in dash mounted ICE with 6 CD changer, no USB or aux outlet though (again glaring & unit looks outdated) centre console is quite out of place, its material & quality wise cheap, compared to rest of the soft touch dashboard & its protruding outwards as well. Storage between front seats is quite limited, with just 1 storage recess & a small enclosed box which will hold small knick knacks. Rear seats are quite well spaced, since there is no third row of seats to worry about with good knee room with 3 people seated quite comfortably. No folding arm rest found for rear seats.

Again we have the 'Magic' Seat thingy going on for rear seats as shown in the pics. Luggage area has a provision of a storage drawer at right side, which slides out & conceals contents, which is great, but if one has to load heavy stuff then surely one will have to remove it in order to avoid damaging it & availing of a flat stow area. Overall decent space but then thats what you would expect when there is no third row of seats. Plus & minus in some ways. Key of the vehicle was most disappointing as it it felt very cheap & small. To top it off, the dealer was so cheap that they did not even attach a keychain.

Engine & Powertrain:-

Starting the vehicle, one notices that the engine is most refined & vibration free, one can easily be fooled into thinking its a petrol unit, so silent it is, even on the move if not revved over 3k the engine is very silent & smooth. Whilst Torque.addict drove, he always avoided revving her to the redline which made the occupants barely notice any sound from the engine at all, in fact the Bridgestone tyres were noisier than the engine. The 2 litre unit is adequate for the size of the vehicle but i did not get the rush that i was looking for, like one gets with the 2 litre magnum unit or even the 3 litre unit of the Fortuner, that said its quite capable & effortlessly maintained 140-150 kmph quite easily, though when i took over i managed to nudge over 170 on a clear stretch of road. Surely one can manage to hit 200 kmph on a traffic free road. I also tried the cruise control for a while but with the traffic, could barely maintain the speed that was set & had to constantly brake & it would then resume the speed of the vehicle on its own as soon as a clear stretch was available. The gearbox was quite smooth too, gear lever is short & throws are direct, but i felt that one would barely be able to make use of the 6th gear that this gearbox offers, what with our chaotic roads & traffic. One aspect i did not like was that of the clutch action, as it was pretty weird to me. It is quite sensitive as if you release it soon, you either stall or get a jerky motion, not at all to my liking & quite disconcerting! One has to be very progressive in releasing the pedal with a dab of the accelerator a must to avoid stalling or the jerky motion, doing this surely will have adverse effect on life expectancy of the clutch.

Ride & Handling:-

We basically drove on a highway & small stretches of service /broken roads & a small hill climb which did not show any untoward ride quality, ride is on the softer side, not bad at all. Ground clearance is also an issue as if one wants to go proper offroading, it will limit its capability quite a bit.

But then the owners of these vehicles will rarely ever see any mud, besides that of the potholes on normal roads!
Though did not get any opportunity to try the 4wd option we tried the 2wd & auto (4 X 4 ) modes of the vehicle, which showed a marked improvement in stability on twisty hill climb taken at speeds over 60 kmph with the 'auto' mode, that aside nothing much to differ between the 2 modes. ESP is also standard which can be manually turned 'On/Off' to ones requirements.
Hill descent mode when switched on maintains the speed of the vehicle with the driver basically not having to do any leg work, sensors basically keep vehicle speed in check, automatically reduces speed & such but it resulted in a jerky motion being offered which was quite unsettling & annoying. Steering is well weighted & stable even at high speeds, turning circle is pretty good too for the size of the vehicle.

Verdict:

All in all, all things considered, the X-Trail is a decent & capable performer, ideally suited for highway runs, 4X4 capabilities remain unknown as could not truly test that parameter of the vehicle, fuel efficiency as informed by sales rep is around 17 kmpl, which is what Nissan states, should be lesser than that in real world conditions, again only can be ascertained after owning the vehicle. An interesting option to the growing number of vehicles in this segment, personally would stick with the fortuner (time being), reasons :-

1) Looks
2) Proper 4WD system (For those who actually will do some mud plugging!)
3) Ground Clearance
4) Price (Diff of 5 odd lacs)
5) Extra Seating Options
6) Toyota ASS is known factor compared to that of Nissan coupled with dealer attitude as experience by Torque.addict
 
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Thats a great quick & pcise review of X-Trail!

It almost matched with the review of ACI :)

Waiting for the pics!
 

Arun

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You wrote that much![shock]
Excellent job!Just superb beyond limits!!
Not sure how many people will take this baby off-road where it performs!

Stupid people treat SUV-s as luxury vehicles![frustration]
 
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Since our frnd Denom has already written so much in detail, I skip the interiors and exteriors of X-Trail and straightaway come on DRIVE part.

On start up and take off, the 1st thing that strikes you is the refinement of motor. It feels so free revving that it can be easily mistaken for Gasoline motor. And even driving characteristics are like that of a Gasoline motor. Bottom end torque is poor and if you try to take off at speed of 20kmph in 3rd gear, the car gives jerks forcing you to downshift. This is the 1st diesel vehicle which I have driven with such poor drivability. In traffic you are forced to downshift. Not that it is a pain because the gear shift feel is very smooth and clutch action is very light. Getting out of Nerul we reached Palm Beach Road. It was time to push the car. Pushed it till maybe 150 (didn't observed speedo). Denom shifted the lever of 4wd to Auto and the car handled very well in this mode. On high speed drive and on mild curves of Palm Beach road, there was hardly any body roll and car just steered towards the direction pointed. I was enjoying the drive to max and could not help comparing it to Tucson. Same exterior size and same size of engine but there is such a vast difference in performance. Pick up is very good (Overdrive says its 10 odd secs for 0-100kmph) and not to forget fuel efficiency which Overdrives claims to be 20 on highways, 14 odd in city and 12 on flat out drive. Thats saying a lot about this motor. Power+Fuel efficiency is impressive. While driving on open road with this refined motor, one forgets to shift to 6th gear. After Palm Beach Road, I steered it towards Parsik hill to check real time handling and other features like Hill start control and hill Descent control. Sadly Sales Exec didn't knew how to activate Hill start function. While on uphill drive to Parsik hill, I pushed the car really hard on corners and I could see sales exec and his colleague swaying from one side to another. But I was impressed with the lack of body roll and continued the fun. While downhill drive, we tried using Hill descent Control and frankly wasn't much impressed with it. I guess, its just a marketing gimmik. Again pushed the car on corners couple of times and at this time Denom turned the 4wd knob to 2wd and I could feel the difference. There was higher body roll and steering response too was not as sharp. Then it was time for Denom to take over. The moment he took over, he pushed the car hard till 4500rpm in 1st and shifted directly to 3rd. Even at 4500rpm, engine didn't sound harsh. Could not judge much about ride quality but I guess, it is very good.

Nissan Claims Ground Clearance to be 210mm which does not seems to be true. And targeting it as an all-rounder with good off-roadability, there is not info about approach angle, departure angle and ramp over angle in the brochure.

Features wise, X-Trail beats every SUV/ Soft-roader in its segment (CRV included). That makes it a very good alternative to CRV at less price and that too with gem of a Diesel Engine. Interior is as intelligent as Jazz with numerous cup holders and storage spaces. What particularly impressed me is the size of sunroof which easily exposes 50% of the roof to nature. That is huge even after comparing to Panaromic sunroof of Q7. There is also a hard pad in the sunroof to protect interiors from sun's heat when sunroof is closed. Xenon lamps comes standard on SLX variant and all in all I think the equipment list is very close to Passat Highline (6 airbags too).

After having causal discussion with Sales Exec, I got toknow that Ichibaan Nisaan is own by the same owner who owned Presidential car, VW Dealership. And morever, Presidential cars being snatched back by VW, Ichibaan Nissan is located at same place where Presidential cars used to be.

Pros
1. Refined engine with good power and Fuel efficiency.
2. Equipment
3. Excellent Ride and Handling
4. Light-wieght compared to competition and this is what aids its off-roadability (source: Overdrive) and on-road performance.
5. Flexibility, comfort and convinience of interiors

Cons
1. Cost of service can be an issue.
2. Price higher that Diesel competition but still affordable and well equipped compared to CR-V.
3. Looks not macho enough.


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napster

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Excellent write-up guys, great work.
saw a show on ndtv today , they were comparing new x-trail, endeavour,safari and fortuner, fortuner took the first place , they gave it a value for money tag
 

AMG

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saw a show on ndtv today , they were comparing new x-trail, endeavour,safari and fortuner
What is a Safari doing in a comparo that has all cars costing twice what the safari costs.[frustration]
And where is the Outlander(my fav. SUV)[frustration][cry]
 
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What is a Safari doing in a comparo that has all cars costing twice what the safari costs.
And where is the Outlander(my fav. SUV)
Outlander is priced high & due to poor dealer ship network you cannot spot that on roads.

So to compare with a vehicle which is not going to sell, its better to compare with safari which is selling atleast few 100 units every month! [cheers]
 

napster

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oops sorry, there was a pajero also, they were actually comparing off roading capabilities. safari wasnt present in the list. i somehow forgot. and endeavour got stuck in the mud at a point and they had to pull it out with the help of a JEEP[lol]
 
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Now that we are at it, I would like to tell you all to check the Oct 09 issue of Overdrive for comparison test of Fortuner V/s X-Trail v/s Endeavour Thunder+ v/s Pajero. Best part of this test is the location which is the forest area of Chikmanglure in Karnataka. Reading this test reminded me of my Innova Drive in Chikmanglue in Oct 08. I used to rate Autocar as numero Uno. But now a days Overdrive is catching up fast and coming with out with innovative ideas to make every issue more and more intresting.
 
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