Nissan XTrail 2WD review (20052008) MSN Cars UK

20 Мар 2014 | Author: | Комментарии к записи Nissan XTrail 2WD review (20052008) MSN Cars UK отключены
Nissan X-Trail Hybrid

Nissan X-Trail 2WD review (2005-2008)

You wouldn’t buy a raincoat that let in the rain. A kettle that couldn’t boil water is fundamentally wrong. And a 4×4 unable to off-road seems more than a little silly.

With such thoughts in mind we found ourselves driving Nissan’s X-Trail 2×4. A front-wheel-drive four-wheel-drive. Oh my.

Cost is the reason behind it, we’re told. The 2WD will be around £1,500 less than 4WD models, though only the 2.2-litre dCi diesel offers a direct comparison; realignment of the range means the 2.0-litre petrol is now solely a 2WD unit.

Both will only be offered in SE trim but this is pretty inclusive, with ABS, air con, alloys and a CD player all standard. So its introduction has nothing to do with Ken Livingstone’s desire to ‘ban 4x4s’? A Nissan spokesman refutes this, though we suspect their cunning when, later on, somebody else exclaims “it’s not a 4×4!

I’d like to see them ban this from London!”. The intrigue continues when said Nissan man explains how they see it as a rival for the VW Golf Plus, Renault Scenic and Mercedes B-Class. Same footprint, same high-rise architecture and, crucially, similar prices.

Not a 4×4, then, despite looking like a direct rival to the Toyota RAV4, Land Rover Freelander and Honda CR-V.

The company wants to blur the boundaries between traditional car sectors, and with the latest X-Trail, we can see their logic. You can’t fault the X-Trail in the city. Visibility is panoramic – the high-set seats and huge, low-shouldered windows give you the view of a tractor driver. Flat sides and a square profile mean it’s easy to place and you can straddle ‘new generation’ speed humps too, just like the emergency services. Those that can’t are soaked up well, with little jolting; free from the heavy 4×4 running gear, the ride is improved.

It’s always been comfortable but the 2WD variant is the best of the lot, able to absorb bumps and scars with little intrusion.

The ride is a little noisy though, which masks some of its ability. Turn up the stereo and see how it ‘improves’. It rolls a little in corners too, but handling itself is safe and confident. Besides, it never lurches or wallows. We’d be interested to drive the 2.0-litre petrol, as we reckon it would cope pretty well given the X-Trail’s surprising lack of bulk.

But it was the 2.2-litre diesel presented on the press drive. Which deterred us immediately from a cold start because of its frightful noise. It clattered like a transit van and felt about as vibrant. We were all set to slate it – but then the engine warmed through and it was transformed. Still not a paragon of refinement, but an X-Trail up to operating temperature is a significantly quieter, smoother, less rattly beast than a cold one.

The same could be said about the six-speed manual gearbox. It too is stiff, heavy and notchy when cold, but improves after a few miles.

Nissan X-Trail Hybrid

You won’t object to stirring it in your quest to keep the revs above 2,000rpm, after which the X-Trail performs well (0-60mph in 11.2secs). It’s pleasingly torquey and well able to dictate the pace on winding roads. Be particularly fruity at junctions and it’s possible to spin the front wheels with quite a squeal. However, this highlights a major failing.

Not only is it shorn of all-wheel-drive, Nissan also hasn’t fitted either traction control or ESP. Those expecting 4×4 grip away from slippery junctions in mid-winter may be alarmed when the front wheels spin merrily away, while muddy fields are going to be a no-no. It really is the 4×4 that isn’t, and because of lesser reserves of traction, arguably less safe as a result.

That could be why Nissan still expects the majority of X-Trails to be four-wheel-drive versions – sales of the 2WD are barely expected to break four figures annually, despite their significant price advantage. It’s almost as if Nissan is conducting an experiment, asking people why they buy 4x4s – looks or all-weather ability? The customer is expected to choose the security of being able to take the kids to school in the winter, rather than looking like a Sloane Ranger.

Add this to the see-all driving position which boosts safety and a Euro-NCAP pedestrian safety score better than a Vauxhall Astra, and perhaps 4×4 drivers are not so “idiotic” after all, Mr. Livingstone.

The 2WD X-Trail is still a good buy provided you’re aware of its lesser abilities. The drive is sweet, equipment levels comprehensive and price a match for five-door hatchbacks, never mind off-roaders. But we can imagine that, once in the showroom, £1,500 extra for the added confidence of four-wheel-drive may seem a bargain.

As a cheat for the politicking in London, it’s a winner, but British weather vagaries may mean there are a few instances when its desirability goes off the boil.

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