Fleet News

Nissan X-Trail

Nissan

Review

##X-trailB.jpg--right##A GENUINE 'crossover' 4x4 may seem like a contradiction in terms. Why would a driver want a vehicle capable of going to the office or the shops during the week and then travelling on any trail or terrain at the weekend?

Well, Nissan believes the changing pace of life and the increasing number of commuters hitting country roads at the weekend will leave the new 4x4 in high demand. So branding its new compact 4x4 as a 'crossover' is exactly how Nissan has chosen to market the X-Trail.

The X-Trail was introduced to the public at the Paris Motor Show 2000 and barely differs from the concept version displayed. The vehicle went on sale in Japan in November 2000, but Europe gets it from September, and it arrives on British shores in October.

Prices are expected to start at £16,800 for the 2.0-litre S, with the 2.0-litre Sport commanding £18,000 and the 2.2-litre SE coming in at £20,000. Diesels start at £17,800 for the 2.2-litre Di S while the 2.2-litre Di Sport is £19,000. The top of the range 2.2-litre Di SE will set you back £21,000.

Rear parking sensors can be added to any model for £310, while the Birdview navigation is an extra £1,500. For an automatic gearbox add £1,000 to 2.0-litre Sport or SE, while for ESP add £800 to the 2.0-litre SE. These prices, though, are only estimates.

From a carbon dioxide tax perspective, the 2.0-litre petrol X-Trail emits 221g/km of CO2, placing it in the 26% of P11D price tax band next April. This compares favourably to the Land Rover Freelander 1.8-litre five-speed manual, which emits 248g/km CO2 and puts a driver in the 31% tax band. By comparison the Ford Maverick emits between 226 and 228g/km CO2 ( 27% tax band).

But it is the diesel that fleets will be most interested in. The 2.2-litre engine emits 190g/km CO2 (23% of P11D, including the 3% diesel penalty). The CO2 emissions for the Vauxhall Frontera 2.2-litre Dti 16v Sport are 232g/km CO2 (29% tax band) - well above the X-Trail.

The X-trail also promises good combined fuel economy - 30.4mpg for the 2.0-litre petrol and 39.2mpg for the 2.2-litre diesel. The Vauxhall Frontera's 2.2i petrol engine offers a combined mpg of 24.8, while its 2.2 Dti diesel engine offers its combined figure as 32.8mpg.

From the outside the X-Trail looks muscular and chunky - enough to convince you it can successfully be taken off-road but slightly out of place once you get there. The X-Trail also has Nissan's trademark 4x4 grille. To make the point that the vehicle is a genuine 'crossover' the front and rear bumpers are smoothed into the fenders, rather than blown out and bulbous like Vauxhall's Frontera.

For those who like keeping their clothes clean but still want to take their wheels off-road, the X-Trail has wide door openings and sills built into the bottom of the doors to help keep dirt and muck away from shoes after your foray off road.

Inside, the X-trail offers plenty of space. The diesel 2.2-litre version is also the proud owner of the biggest sunroof in its class, which Nissan's designers call the Skyroof. The instrument dial is centrally-positioned and is easy to see, no matter how much you adjust the steering column.

Nissan's X-trail is perfect for the 'drinkaholic', with its cup-holders and even a can-cooler powered by the air conditioning. One of the smart things about the X-Trail is the fact that the cargo area is covered in washable dimpled plastic resin material, rather than carpet, so muddy boot marks can be easily wiped away.

Fleet appeal

NISSAN is launching a push for fleet business by offering a 4x4 that fleet managers will be happy to have on their choice lists, according to fleet sales director Kevin McNally. McNally expects the vehicle to appeal to user-chooser and medium to large fleets which have discouraged drivers from 4x4s because of their high CO2 emissions and gas-guzzling reputation.

He is also confident that fleet managers' minds will be changed by reports that 4x4s continue to perform well at auctions and are in high demand with the retail market. McNally expects 1,500-1,800 X-Trails to go to the fleet market out of a total 4,200 vehicles.

About 25 key decision-makers will be taken to Finland this month. CAP, Glass's and Emmox will be invited, as well as major leasing companies. Demonstrators will be available for fleets. McNally said: 'The X-Trail will appeal to 25-year-olds of any age - a lot of drivers want flexibility in life.'

Driver appeal

THE Nissan X-Trail's high driving position offers a good view of the battlefield and allows the driver to feel insulated. But once you get off-road you are at risk of feeling cut off from the outside world and removed from the elements.

The 2.2-litre turbodiesel engine uses common rail technology and is based on the unit found in the Nissan Tino. It is hooked up to a six-speed manual gearbox, which from cold feels jerky and tight but loosens up after a few miles.

The diesel engine is quiet unless revved over 5,000rpm, when it becomes raucous. But it still performs well and a sixth gear makes the X-Trail a real motorway cruiser. The petrol engine is responsive and immediate. It works well both on and off-road and is also quiet with good pick-up from below 2000rpm. The aluminium engine, and in fact the whole vehicle, is light and as a result has responsive steering.

Take the X-Trail off-road, though, and the steering feels light and loses its edge. But the X-trail offers good clearance and plenty of height so it doesn't get stuck easily or drag over the rough stuff.

The X-Trail uses Nissan's All Mode 4x4 system, which is the first electronic four-wheel drive system to be seen in a compact 4x4 and is based on the same principles as the Nissan Skyline GT-R system. Normal road conditions see the vehicle operating in front-wheel drive to save fuel. But take it off-road or anywhere there could be slippage and the drive is apportioned to both axles.

Buttons on the front panel allow the driver to choose between two-wheel drive, lock or auto 4x4. In auto mode the system apportions torque to each axle as surface conditions demand. If the 'lock' button is pressed then drive is delivered to each wheel.

Standard equipment: All Mode 4x4, driver and passenger airbags, ABS, EBD, Nissan Brake Assist, ISOFIX child seat mounting points, six-speed manual gearbox on 2.2Di, electric windows, electrically adjustable door mirrors, reclining, split fold rear seat, remote central locking, four-speaker stereo radio/cassette, rear luggage area cover, roof rails.

Standard equipment: All Mode 4x4, driver and passenger airbags, ABS, EBD, Nissan Brake Assist, ISOFIX child seat mounting points, six-speed manual gearbox on 2.2Di, electric windows, electrically adjustable door mirrors, reclining, split fold rear seat, remote central locking, four-speaker stereo radio/cassette, rear luggage area cover, roof rails.

Standard equipment: All Mode 4x4, driver and passenger airbags, ABS, EBD, Nissan Brake Assist, ISOFIX child seat mounting points, six-speed manual gearbox on 2.2Di, electric windows, electrically adjustable door mirrors, reclining, split fold rear seat, remote central locking, four-speaker stereo radio/cassette, rear luggage area cover, roof rails.

Standard equipment: All Mode 4x4, driver and passenger airbags, ABS, EBD, Nissan Brake Assist, ISOFIX child seat mounting points, six-speed manual gearbox on 2.2Di, electric windows, electrically adjustable door mirrors, reclining, split fold rear seat, remote central locking, four-speaker stereo radio/cassette, rear luggage area cover, roof rails.

CO2 emissions and fuel consumption data correct at time of writing. The latest figures are available in the Fleet News fuel cost calculator and the company car tax calculator.

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