Price and specifications
Engine: 1.6-litre four-cylinder turbo diesel, 96kW at 4000rpm, 320Nm at 1750rpm
Transmission and 4WD system: 6-speed manual, on-demand high range 4WD
Braked tow capacity: 2000kg
Spare tyre: Space saver
Fuel tank: 60 litres
Fuel use (claimed): 5.3L/100km
Fuel use on test: 7.4L/100km
Approach/departure angles: 17.2 degrees/24.9 degrees
Ground clearance: 210mm
WHAT’S THE DEAL?
The X-Trail diesel is available in two trim levels, the entry level TS and better equipped TL. Each is also available as a two-wheel-drive or four-wheel-drive.
But there’s a catch – the four-wheel-drive we’ve tested here is only available with a manual gearbox and there are no plans for a manual. It’s a step backwards for the X-Trail diesel, which in its previous guise was available with the auto most Australians want.
Both the TS ($35,680, plus on-road costs for the four-wheel-drive) and TL ($46,580) come with Bluetooth, cruise control, reversing camera, alloy wheels (17-inch on the TS, 18 on the TL) and smart key entry and start.
The TL picks up leather trim, a sunroof, powered tailgate, a bigger touchscreen, LED headlights, fog lights, heated door mirrors, satellite-navigation, digital radio, dual-zone air-conditioning, a surround view virtual overhead camera and a suite of crash avoidance technologies, including lane departure warning and blind spot warning.
The seven-seat option available on the X-Trail for the first time in this generation car unfortunately isn’t available in the four-wheel-drive models. Still there are five spacious seats as well as a good 40-20-40 split-fold system and a sliding rear seat.
Rear air vents also improve ventilation and the X-Trail has loads of storage and power outlets.
The boot also has a good dose of under floor storage with a removable shelf that can be placed higher for added functionality.
Storage is also good, with covered binnacles and power outlets aplenty.
The interior presentation is good without being brilliant, although the detailed trip computer splitting the speedo and tacho is a step above most at this price level.
ON THE ROAD
The X-Trail diesel has gone from having a 2.0-litre turbo to a 1.6 in this current car. So outputs have dropped from 127kW and 360Nm to 96kW and 320Nm. It’s an odd move and one driven by the demand for smaller, more frugal engines in Europe. That also explains the lack of an auto transmission, with Europeans happy to do the shifting themselves.
The engine itself works well enough, albeit with some lag very low in the rev range that can sometimes keep you busy with the gear lever. But once it’s past 1500rpm there’s a useful surge of torque, albeit one that can momentarily feel harsh at full throttle when cruising in top gear.
The diesel is impressively frugal, though, with claimed use of 5.3 litres per 100 kilometres. We found it used 7.4L/100km during a varied mix of on- and off-road, but it’s still pretty good.
It’s helped by the stop-start system that temporarily shuts the engine down when stationary, a system that is relatively quick in refiring the engine once you press the clutch.
X-Trails have typically been a cut above the soft-road opposition but the latest X-Trail takes a step back in some areas. The first black mark is the space saver spare tyre lurking beneath that tricky boot floor.
And the lack of an auto – combined with only a high range four-wheel-drive system - hurts it in slow speed work because you have to either ride the clutch or tackle whatever you’re tackling faster.
The All-Mode four-wheel-drive system includes an Auto mode, whereby it’s effectively front-wheel-drive before quickly bringing the rears into play more depending on how hard you’re accelerating and how slippery the surface is.
There’s also a Lock mode that constantly sends drive to the front and rear for better traction. But that Lock mode doesn’t lock any differentials and it’s east to get opposing wheels wheelspinning in certain conditions.
That said, there’s decent ground clearance and the approach and departure angles (17.2 degrees and 24.9 degrees respectively) are reasonable.
One plus with the 4WD diesel is its tow capacity, which at 2000kg is half a tonne up on other X-Trails; we didn’t try it but the engine would be working hard lugging that weight.
If you’re happy to change gears yourself then the latest X-Trail is a thoughtful, well specified medium SUV that’s also impressively frugal. But it’s less impressive off the bitumen and the smaller diesel engine is adequate rather than great.
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