Innovation without effort
The Nissan X-Trail is an "SUV," or "Sports Utility Vehcile." This is the most popular type of car today. Therefore, Nissan offers SUVs in many shapes and sizes, from the hip Juke to the futuristic Arya. The X-Trail is Nissan's most adventurous SUV. Therefore, within Nissan's signature style, the X-Trail has the roughest and toughest lines.
Space: compact 7-seater
Although technically the X-Trail has much in common with the Nissan Qasqai and the Austral from partner brand Renault, the X-Trail is larger. This is not only in the exterior dimensions, but even in the wheelbase. Thanks to the above-average wheelbase, Nissan saw fit to provide this midsize SUV with three rows of seats. Don't expect too much from the second rear seat, however. Nissan itself states that it is intended for people up to 1 metre 60. Autozine would add that those persons must also be nimble to reach the third row of seats at all.
The rear seat (second row of seats) is on rails and therefore it is easy to choose between more legroom in the rear or more space in the third row of seats or luggage space. With the rear seats in the rear position, legroom in the rear is outstanding. The rear seat stands remarkably high, giving the rear passengers a sense of freedom and easy viewing along with the driver and co-driver.
Equipment: keeping up with the trend
The X-Trail is much less progressive than the recently introduced (and equally expensive!) Nissan Arya. The X-Trail is aimed at the conservative buyer who wants to go with the trend but is uncomfortable with major changes.
Naturally, the X-Trail comes with audio, communication and sat nav. A voice-activated assistant is not available. However, the smart assistant of a connected smartphone (Apple's Siri, Android's Google or Amazon's Alexa) can easily be activated, but it obviously has no control over the car. The audio system provided by Bose has a lack of detail, woolly and fatiguing sound.
When it comes to active safety, the X-Trail again offers all the usual features, but none of the innovations. The X-Trail is limited to assisting or intervening with braking, acceleration and steering when necessary. The X-Trail is not equipped with the sensors or computing power to offer more than that in the future.
E-Power: electric car for beginners
Very innovative is the "e-Power" powertrain. Under the bonnet of the X-Trail lives an ordinary petrol engine. However, it does not drive the wheels, but acts as a generator to generate electricity for electric motors.
This set-up has advantages and disadvantages. In real life, e-Power does exactly what the manufacturer promises. The X-Trail offers the comfort, agility and performance of an electric car. In town, this gives a lot of extra punch, while on the motorway it offers a quietness that conventional engines cannot match. Also very nice: the X-Trail can be driven with one pedal if so desired. The driver can specify how much the car decellerates when releasing the brake pedal, with more decelleration resulting in more energy recovery.
In theory, e-Power should be more economical because the petrol engine runs at its most efficient speed regardless of the driving speed. In practice, unfortunately, this pans out differently. The long chain from petrol to motion to electricity to motion causes losses. Or to approach it very differently: e-Power cannot choose the most efficient form of drive depending on the situation (combustion engine on the motorway, electric motor in the city). That is why consumption is higher than for traditional hybrids.
Another drawback is that the battery does not always have enough buffer to provide extra power when accelerating or climbing. This is when the petrol engine is audibly present and since its revs do not match the car's speed, it is a strange sensation.
Test consumption came to 39 mpg, which is high for a car of this size and performance. E-Power is therefore like electric driving for beginners. It should be regarded as a technique to (greatly) improve comfort, not to reduce consumption.
e-4ORCE: linear handling
As the X-Trail is meant as a family car, no pronounced hard or soft suspension has been chosen. The suspension and steering are tailored to the average driver with an average driving style. Nevertheless, the driver has enough feeling with the mechanics to know what the car is capable of. During the test drive over unpaved roads, for instance, it became obvious that the suspension can take a beating.
Optionally, the X-Trail can be fitted with "e-4ORCE" all-wheel drive. Then the X-Trail has not one, but two electric motors. And because an electric motor can be controlled much more precisely and reacts much faster than an internal combustion engine, this opens up new possibilities.
When the X-Trail brakes on the engine (the aforementioned one-pedal driving), energy is recovered using both electric motors. While accelerating, power is instead distributed between the front and rear wheels. In both cases, this prevents the car from dipping or tilting, which benefits comfort. Passengers in particular therefore experience the X-Trail as much more comfortable than a similar car with an internal combustion engine.
That same precise control over the electric motors is also deployed off-road. Therefore, the X-Trail takes a slope or dirt track with just as much ease as a highway of newly laid asphalt.
The fourth generation of the Nissan X-Trail is a special car. Under the skin the X-Trail is very innovative. At the same time, Nissan makes every effort to avoid the driver experiencing the X-Trail as strange or having to adjust routines.
For instance, the X-Trail does not look like a flying saucer or a product from the wind tunnel. The X-Trail is an SUV with a tough and adventurous look. Its spacious exterior dimensions make it one of the few 7-seaters in the segment, although it is more correct to speak of a "5+2" seater.
Most special is the powertrain. With "E-Power", the X-Trail offers the quietness, smoothness and performance of an electric car without the need to recharge. On the other hand, the "X-Trail e-Power" does have to refuel like a petrol-powered car and consumes more than a typical (plug-in) hybrid. Those who take that disadvantage for granted will experience the X-Trail as more comfortable and more capable that the competition.
When the optional "e-4ORCE" is chosen, the technology comes into its own even better. Then the X-Trail reacts in the same confident manner whatever the situation. In short: the X-Trail provides innovation without any effort on the part of the driver.
- Spacious and practical
- Easy to drive, even in difficult conditions
- Comfort of an electric car, with no need to recharge
- Test car not free of rattles
- Mediocre sound of Bose audio system
- Less economical than standard hybrid