New Nissan X-Trail breaks cover
Nissan's SUV has binned its boxy design and gone in for a more muscular look in its all-new avatar
The Nissan X-Trail is one fine SUV, as we know. It's got a good engine, lots of gadgets and is capable on pretty much every type of terrain. One grouse with it though, could be its looks. It looked like it took its SUV brief too seriously, and ended up looking like a box with many boxes sticking out of it.
If you thought the same, then you'll be happy to see this, the new X-Trail. It is based on Renault-Nissan's new Common Module Family (CMF) platform that was previewed not very long ago. It has grown in size, but has shed weight - the tailgate (now remote-operated), constructed largely out of plastic, helps slice off seven kilos alone.
Nissan says the idea this time was to meld the stylish presence of a crossover with the sinewy silhouette of a full-sized SUV. And they've succeeded, it seems. The new car takes inspiration from the Rogue (which it will be sold as in the USA), the Qashqai and the Murano, and with that V-shaped chrome bar and LED daytime-running lights merged into the headlamps, you can see that it looks like a proper Nissan alright. There's a hint of the BMW X3 in the beltline, the tail is a bit dull, but overall, we like the new X-Trail's approach to exterior design.
Inside, the car has had a complete shake-up - gone are the straight, squared-off lines of the previous car's interior, and in comes a more flowing, more contemporary dashboard, with a choice of chrome, metal or piano black finish. Better still, the X-Trail is now a proper seven-seater, unlike the previous iteration. The rear doors open wider than usual, which aids entry into the last row, and the second row can slide and recline, too.
The dash houses a 7-inch touchscreen colour display which is where you'll find the new NissanConnect, a feature that lets you sync your smartphone to the in-car system, so that you can stream music, use social networks, map out your route, keep up with weather forecasts, find out points of interest along the way and so on. You can even tell the car where you intend to next head out by setting a route on your phone, and the car's satnav will direct you accordingly the next time you hop in.
The intelligent bits don't end there. The new X-Trail employs what Nissan claims are two world-firsts, one being Active Ride Control, which constantly alters damping to ensure road undulations don't upset the car's composure, and two being Active Engine Brake, which adds a dash of engine braking when you're cornering or coming to a dead halt. There's Active Trace Control too, which uses sensors to individually brake wheels, minimising understeer when you're going through a set of twisties. Additionally, it gets Hill Start Assist and Hill Descent Control.
The new car retains the old one's All Mode 4x4i system, and the driver can use a rotary switch to select between two-wheel drive, Auto mode or Lock to enable permanent four-wheel drive. There will also be a two-wheel-drive-only version on sale, Nissan says. Downsizing is the way to go for the new X-Trail as well, but Nissan will only shed more light on the exact engine and transmission options closer to the car's European launch.
Nissan says the car will be launched in markets in the first quarter of 2014, and sales will commence by mid-2014. What do you think of this new X-Trail, folks?