Sunday, July 6, 2008

All New Nissan X-Trail Review

You hear a lot of talk about the New 08/09 new Nissan X-trail. It has won numerous awards and has had accolade upon accolade heaped upon it. But how good is it? I mean really how good is it? Let's forget for the moment all the hype, the adds, the reviews by various motor magazines, websites, forums, Boris the crocodile etc. Owners are usually biased towards their own vehicles - kind of like how parents think their baby is cute, even though it looks like something even the cat could not be bothered dragging in. The usual reason you buy a soft roader is, you really wanted to buy the land bruiser 200 (no the 'b' is not a typo) but didn't have enough money. That's my reason anyway.

It handles well on road. The 2.4L petrol mated to the CVT can really haul ass if you push it. It corners fairly well, has plenty of grip and good road manners. You will really have to push it hard to make the tires squeal - way past the legal speed limit. Body roll is nicely controlled and it doesn't feel as if the vehicle is going to turn turtle. Loss of grip on bitumen manifests itself as under-steer. You can really thrash this baby but you will need nerves of gristle and balls of magnesium alloy.

Off road on unsealed and slippery surfaces with the all mode dial on auto, you get a bit of over steer before the ESP cuts in. Sometimes this can lead to a little fish tailing as you are also reacting to the over-steer by applying opposite lock and the ESP over-corrects. However, you can have a lot of fun going around slippery corners sideways. Again because the it's fairly lightweight you will have to seriously over commit into greasy corners to get it sideways.

Make no mistake. You will get stuck in mud and on the beach. The factory fitted low-profile tires are superb for the bitumen, but are useless in anything but small puddles and because of the profile they do not air-down well. You will have to bring pressure down to 7 psi on some beaches. However, it's unlikely that you will have to be snatched out regularly. The arrival and departure angles are pretty good, but you have to be extra careful when climbing rocks, whereas a proper 4x4 like a Nissan Patrol could have just blasted over them. The X-trail has independent suspension front and back, so you don't get a lot of wheel travel. This means you will frequently find yourself having to try rock ascents a couple of times, using different approaches and sometimes requiring a bit of momentum, because you only have traction on the two diagonal wheels. Another thing, the braked LSD Nissan keeps talking about. Either Nissan forgot to put that into my vehicle or it's not offered in the Australian version.

Horses for courses. If you are going to spend 95% of your time in suburbia and 5% in the bush, then a soft-roader is ideal. If however, that 5% is going to be serious then buy an old cruiser or old patrol specifically for that. A Nissan Patrol will smash the X-trail off-road, but , on bitumen and unsealed roads, the Patrol will be road-kill for the X-trail. PS: Follow this link for a look at the all new 2010 Nissan Patrol

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