Tested: Nissan X-Trail 2.0 DCi LE

The wedding planner

Ideally you only get married once in your life and the general consensus is that you share the memorable day with loved ones and friends. As a fully paid up member of the latter group I was kindly invited to attend the big day of two great friends in an idyllic getaway resort on the wrong side of Riviersonderend.

As I needed to ferry a sound system and three additional guests plus weekend luggage to the event, the new luxury LE-spec Nissan X-Trail parked in my driveway made an easy target for suitable transportation. After a trip to the airport and shops the shiny white X-Trail was nearing its cargo limitations but (thanks to reclining and removable seats) still didn’t disappoint.

The SUV utilises a 110kw/150hp 2-litre common-rail turbo-diesel engine which delivers 320Nm through a six-speed automatic gearbox to the front wheels. 4WD is selectable but the absence of low-range or diff-locks identify the boxy Nissan as a trendy soft-roader.

It only emits an average of 189g of CO2 per km and will be happy with 8.1L/100km (we averaged 8) but I was advised to aim for the 50ppm low-sulphur diesel to keep the self-ignitor at its happiest. The gearbox also offers manual meddling with the gears but does such a sterling and smooth job that I chose to just leave it be.

Power delivery is smooth and linear with no noticeable torque peak, turbo-gap or other lazy diesel antics. While it is slightly noisy at low speeds, the engine picks up cleanly and revs freely to serve your needs, performing at its optimum around 2500rpm.

In town or on the open road the gearbox does its utmost to keep these numbers on the rev-counter and only steep gradients saw the X-Trail hunting for lower cogs in order to maintain its momentum. Even though it was nearing its maximum weight the 2.0 dCi model still delivered acceptable performance, decent overtaking ability, and astonishing fuel consumption.

Similar accusations can be aimed at the Nissan’s road manners and brakes, both of which surpass the expected SUV norm. Our heavily-laden X-Trail did produce the odd bit of body roll and post-bump sway but covered tarred and gravel surfaces with pleasing composure. Its steering and pedals are lightly weighted and it only took a few minutes to get accustomed to the interior’s layout.

The overseas visitors were thrilled with the gigantic sunroof, premium 6-CD mp3 sound system with AUX input (although not all mp3 CD’s were obliging), bluetooth telephone connectivity for frantic pre-wedding conference calls, front and rear air-con (with chilled cup holders) and comfy leather seats.

The high driving position and huge bonnet lend a big-car feeling to the X-Trail, both front seats are electrically adjustable and the rear seats fold in a 60/40 arrangement to accommodate anything from table cloths to self-venting subwoofers.

Although our journey’s accommodation would best be described as snug, we arrived refreshed and relaxed with other guests gasping in disbelief at the quantity of freight we unloaded. They also commented on the car’s square looks, relatively small wheels and shiny roof-racks with integrated spot lights.

Whereas hardened 4×4 enthusiasts at the wedding reception were quick to point out the X-Trail’s restrained approach / departure angles and limited wheel articulation, the Nissan coped with our trip’s ruts and mud-holes with casual ease.

The package is topped off with ABS and EBD brakes, hill start assist, hill descent control, an assortment of airbags including those of the side and curtain disposition, Isofix seat mountings, tonneau cover, alarm and immobiliser, Datadot as standard, leather gear lever and steering wheel with cruise control, board computer and audio controls.

The X-Trail 2.0 dCi LE’s price of N$419 800 shocked a few guests but seems realistic when you consider the whole package with its voluminous interior, brawny and smooth drive-train, and excellent level of equipment.

That price will also include a 3 year 100 000km warranty and a 3 year 90 000km service plan with 15 000km service intervals. Oh yes, and last but not least: congratulations again to my two wonderful friends Claudia and Craig; thanks for providing me with the perfect excuse to test the impressive new X-Trail!

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