DRIVEN: New Nissan X-Trail impresses as a practical, comfortable family SUV

Published Apr 19, 2023


Cape Town - The Nissan X-Trail has been around for 20 years and with the launch of the fourth generation, it cements its place as one of their most important product offerings.

It has also changed shape from the original boxy SUV lines of the first generation to a more fluid modern Premium Urban Crossover look. It has the same DNA that we drove in the Western Cape on its local launch.

Nissan will be offering three variations, starting with the 2.5 Visia CVT, the mid spec 2.5 Acenta CVT and the range-topping Acenta Plus CVT 4x4.

All three are powered by the same 2.5-litre normally aspirated petrol engine, delivering 135kW and 244Nm of torque, an increase of 9kW and 11Nm over the outgoing model.

As the name suggests, it’s coupled to a CVT gearbox driving the front wheels of the first two models and all four on the Acenta Plus CVT.

Nissan says it has worked hard on improving fuel consumption over the previous model, claiming a combined 7.4/100km from its 55 litre tank, aided by lightweight aluminium used for the doors, bonnet and fenders.

We managed just over 9l/100km when we pulled into Cape Town international airport, which included some spirited driving on the N7 up the West Coast.

But if you’re looking for something more frugal, there’s the X-Trail e-Power hybrid model that's also waiting in the wings, although its launch date has yet to be announced.

As far as the interior goes, the Acenta Plus we drove is a pleasant place to spend time. I found the seats to be incredibly comfortable, which may not be the pinnacle of the technology that it’s loaded with but certainly important when it comes to long drives with the family.

As with most cars today, the interior is all digital with a 12.3-inch touch-screen infotainment system with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, a 12.3-inch digital instrument cluster that you can customise to your liking and a 10.8-inch head-up display.

Soft-touch surfaces abound with leather-accented seat trim and steering wheel while the build quality feels solid, the doors closing with a firm thump.

To keep you safe, there’s Lane Departure warning, Blind Spot Intervention, Rear Cross Traffic Alert, Forward Collision Warning, Intelligent Emergency Braking, and pedestrian and cyclist detection.

Adaptive Cruise Control ensures comfortable cruising on the open road and in highway traffic especially in Cape Town where the fast lane is just another lane for trucks, buses and taxis to use.

Cleverly, Nissan has designed the rear doors to open 80 degrees to allow for easier entrance, installation of baby seats and, in the case of the Acenta Plus, the third row of seats.

The third row obviously reduces boot space and for large adults a long trip would be a bit a squeeze but for smaller teenagers it should be fine.

With the X-Trail’s comfortable eight-way power adjustable driver’s seat and rake-and-reach steering, it’s one of the better driving positions in the segment.

It’s mostly motoring journalists that decry CVTs but this one’s not bad at all.

On normal pull away, it’s hardly audible and smoothly gets up to speed without much fuss. If you’re going to thrash it from robot to robot, you’ll hear the thrum but that’s certainly not what the X-Trial is about and also not what the average owner will be buying it for.

Cruising at the national speed limit, the interior is comfortably quiet, with little road noise from the 19-inch alloys and only the slight wind whoosh from the side mirrors.

Should you give it a bit of welly to pass slower traffic, you’ll hear the CVT drone as the revs climb but it soon settles down again.

Like racing from robot to robot, the X-Trail wasn’t designed to be screeching around corners but should you be in a situation that needs a sudden yank at the steering wheel, it will follow instructions without too much protest.

It feels solidly planted and around curves and bends there’s little body roll.

It feels the same on gravel roads, with the all-wheel drive system taking care of power distribution as needed if the surface changes and traction control doing its thing should things get a bit out of hand.

It’s good to see that the X-Trail remains an important product for Nissan locally and it deserves to be on your shopping list if you’re in that market.

Its natural competitor is the Toyota RAV4 2.5 VX AWD, priced at R786 000, and it will be interesting to see how it stacks up against it on the sales charts.

All variants of the Nissan X-Trail come with a three-year/90 000km service plan and a six-year/150 000km mechanical warranty.


2.5 Visia CVT: R649 900

2.5 Acenta CVT: R709 900

Acenta Plus CVT 4x4: R759 900