By Rajesh Chintaman
The Daily Herald Night Editor
Nissan X-Trail 2015 has reshaped its image with a new body design that can be described as sophisticated, edgy, curvy and ready to impress a wider market demographic.
When most people on St. Maarten think about the Nissan X-Trail, the first thing that pops into their mind is: “Isn’t that that gold-ish square-shaped SUV that older people drive?” Well, that has changed with the new Nissan X-Trail 2015, redesigned and boasting a trendy, modern look with a higher quality inside cabin to match the updated exterior look.
Saint Martin Cars, the island’s Nissan dealer, offered up the X-trial 2015 for a review and I was given a fully loaded X-Trail for 24 hours to subject it to my daily routine to experience day- and night-time driving with this updated model.
First impression: Smart move by Nissan to redesign. It now mimics higher end vehicles in style while giving the driver several tech-based features that would make the older generation smile and be a must-have for younger buyers.
Nissan has given the X-Trail its own LED daytime running light “signature” at the front, while the bold wheel arches are supposed to hint at Nissan’s rugged 4x4 heritage. This makes you and the Nissan stand out on St. Maarten roadways.
I have no doubt X-Trail 2015 will appeal to a wider demographic of people. While the move away from a conservative, boxy, SUV-shape and utilitarian feel may have a negative impact on some diehard St. Maarten X-Trail fans, this new package will quickly create a wide fan base.
Inside the X-Trail: Getting into the X-Trail is easy, once it senses your remote entry key, getting into the vehicle means just open the door. No need to fumble around looking for your keys.
Owners of the older models won’t recognize the new one from the inside – an appealing aspect of X-Trail is its practical size and well-laid-out versatile cabin. Wide-opening doors and convenient seat height make getting in and out very easy. It’s surprisingly roomy, in typical SUV fashion; the seat height delivers good visibility and a commanding driving position.
Well-shaped front seats provide an easy reach to the dashboard with logically positioned switches and big dials which are continuously lit with a cool orange-red ambient backlight. The dash has a pleasant, functional layout with curvy air vents and an “infotainment” screen. White-lit instrument panel doubles as information source on fuel use and four-wheel-drive functions.
There is a generous amount of leg room front and rear. But the additional third row of seats eats up space and seems to crowd the otherwise roomy cabin. It easily folds down allowing for the kind of carrying space you would expect in an SUV.
Starting the X-Trail: Starting the engine is as easy as pushing a button. The keyless start feature is easy to get accustomed to. On my first try, it wouldn’t start, after a millisecond of concern, I noticed that the X-Trail was suggesting to me via a vivid display in the instrument panel that I should press the brakes and then push start. Bluetooth connectivity works great offering hands-free phone calls and answering during your drive. This feature might possibly save you from a fine.
The drive: Light steering, a very aggressive airco and a pleasant demeanour make the X-Trail a friendly companion on St. Maarten roads. It’s also relatively quiet and refined. Taking on the hills of “The Friendly Island” was not much of a challenge for the X-Trail, which easily engages the 4x4 mode.
X-Trail’s all-wheel-drive set-up is an adaptive 4x4 system that switches between fuel-saving front-wheel drive, an automatic mode, which only sends drive to the rear wheels under hard acceleration or in slippery conditions, or a 4x4 lock mode, which is ideal for the worst weather and off-road situations.
The X-trial is generally well controlled and recovers quickly from bumps offering a mostly smooth ride for occupants, but it will lean a bit if driven hard through a corner, something more noticeable when the road immediately turns the other way. When overtaking, the X-Trail offers the required power to make the manoeuvre seamless.
Driving at night, the X-Trail offers a brighter than usual experience with the X-Trail’s LED headlamps, which are brighter and use less power than regular beams. You are able to see corners better and with fog lights integrated into the front bumper, they create a low, wide projection to help increase visibility under most conditions.
Cool finds: With the X-Trail’s “Around View Monitor” camera system, parking and reversing are made easy. However, this feature takes some getting accustomed to as habitually I kept glancing back to ensure that it was indeed clear to reverse.
The X-Trail uses cameras in the nose, tailgate and both door mirrors to create a birds-eye view of the X-Trail. The video display appears in the “infotainment” screen and is a little small and fuzzy, but it’s a handy back-up feature.
A “Cool Cup” in hot St. Maarten is a must and the X-trial delivers just that. In the usual cup holders, air vents have been ingeniously placed to funnel cooled air directly onto your cup. This creates a pleasantly cool cup of whatever you are drinking – a feature I took full advantage of.
“Hidden Key” – Playing around with the remote controls will allow you to discover a solid key hidden inside, so that if the batteries in the remote fail, you can use it to manually open the driver’s side door.
“Power Lift gate” – Got your hands full? X-Trail’s power lift gate opens with the tap of your finger for fumble-free access to the cargo area.
Power Panoramic Moon Roof – The available Power Panoramic Moon Roof means that no matter where you’re sitting in a 2015 Nissan X-Trail, you’ve got a window seat.
Nissan X-Trail Information
St. Maarten price points: Basic US $27,900, semi-loaded $29,900, fully loaded 4X4 $32,900. All three options come with a three-year warranty and a free first service.
• 2.5-Liter DOHC 16-Valve 4-Cylinder Engine
• XTRONIC CVT (Continuously Variable Transmission)
Say goodbye to gear hunting with the intelligent CVT (Continuously Variable Transmission). With fully variable gear ratios, the CVT always delivers the perfect engine speed whenever you step on the gas.
• 18" X 7.0" Aluminum-Alloy Wheels
The 18"x 7.0" wheels are made out of solid aluminum-alloy, making them both lightweight and strong.
• Nissan Advanced Air Bag System – Includes dual-stage supplemental front air bags with seat belt sensors and an occupant-classification sensor. The inflation rate of these dual-stage air bags adjusts depending on crash severity and seat belt usage.
• Anti-Lock Braking System (ABS) with Electronic Brake Force Distribution (EBD) and Brake Assist (BA)
• Tire Pressure Monitoring System (TPMS) with Easy-Fill Tire Alert: When it comes to your tire pressure, the Tire Pressure Monitoring System takes away any guessing. A symbol on your dash illuminates when the pressure is low. And when you’re filling your tires, the Easy-Fill Tire Alert lets you know – with a friendly beep – when they’ve got the right amount of air.