Nissan X-TRAIL - Evolution | Part Three

Nissan X-TRAIL

Nissan X-TRAIL

EVOLUTION OF THE SPECIES AT A GLANCE

  • X-TRAIL owners surveyed
  • Essence of the first generation retained
  • Evolutionary rather than revolutionary design
  • All new chassis and body
Those best placed to judge whether a car delivers all it promises are its customers. Having paid their money and lived with the car for weeks, months and years, they are uniquely placed to give the ultimate verdict.

So while the all-new X-TRAIL was at the planning stage, Nissan turned to owners of the first generation model to understand what they felt their car did well and where it could be improved. The message that came back was that many didn’t want Nissan to change a thing, and that the essence of the first generation car should be kept.

The first X-TRAIL was an exceptional success, the right vehicle at the right time, and a hugely capable compact SUV with serious off-road credentials that broke sales targets every year

A winning formula, then, and one that provided a formidable challenge when it came to providing the next generation X-TRAIL with even greater levels of performance, ability and practicality.

The approach has been to build on the car’s strengths, rather than trying to be something completely different – an evolutionary rather than a revolutionary design to create a car that is better in every respect.

The 2007 X-TRAIL boasts a new chassis and new body, an expanded range of more powerful engines providing better performance and economy. There’s more interior space, a much larger trunk area and greatly enhanced interior quality.

COMFORTABLE AND EASY TO DRIVE

Yet it retains all the qualities of the original. Although slightly larger, it remains a compact SUV, one that’s comfortable and easy to drive on-road. It continues to be a thoroughly practical and functional vehicle, and it is just as tough as the original.

It has better on-road manners thanks to the adoption of the Alliance C-Platform, giving a more refined and stable ride. However, it has even greater off-road ability thanks to the adoption of Nissan’s latest electronically controlled ‘intelligent’ ALL MODE 4x4-i system, which now works in parallel with hill start and descent control systems (SPORT and AVENTURA).

And there’s Nissan’s expanded 4x4 offering. While some rival SUVs have been ‘softened’ to appeal to a largely road-bound buying public, the recent addition of QASHQAI to Nissan’s range caters perfectly for that audience. As a result, there has been no need to compromise X-TRAIL’s acclaimed capability and design.

X-TRAIL is a genuine compact SUV with a roomy and practical interior. And it has the double bonus of being a great drive on the road and off the beaten track. In fact, the new X-TRAIL does everything the original did, but with more style and in greater comfort.

“Even though they said they liked the original X-TRAIL the way it was, we are confident our customers and potential customers will recognise that the new X-TRAIL is still very much what it used to be, expect more capable, more convenient and of a higher quality,” says Brian Carolin, Senior Vice President, Sales and Marketing, Nissan Europe. “We have preserved everything that was good about the original X-TRAIL and made it more so.”

FAMILY RESEMBLANCE

AT A GLANCE

  • Longer, taller and wider than before
  • Robust stance with strong shoulders
  • Good ground clearance and short overhangs for off-road use
  • Practical squared body shape
  • Deep rear door with low loading sill
  • New range of colours
Every body panel is new, but the new X-TRAIL deliberately bears a strong resemblance to its predecessor. The simple reason for that is research revealed that the way the original X-TRAIL looked was a strong ingredient in its overall success.

They liked the no-nonsense styling with broad shoulders that accentuated its robust stance; the deep glasshouse that made for a bright and airy interior at the same time as enhancing visibility; and the roof and window lines which helped create a practical, roomy and bright interior– in short a thoroughly practical shape that delivers exactly what it promises.

A dramatically different redesign would have been pointless, so the changes are subtle but very effective and will appeal equally to customers who want to replace their existing X-TRAIL, as well as first-time buyers.

The result is therefore a new X-TRAIL that incorporates many of those styling cues allowing it to capitalise on the strengths of the original, but with sufficient new features to move the model on for a new generation of buyers.

It is bigger all round than its predecessor. At 4630mm, it is longer by 175mm, while its wheelbase has increased by 5mm to 2630mm. It is also slightly taller – up 10mm to 1685mm – and at 1785 mm is exactly 20mm wider than before.

Despite the increase in overall dimensions, however, it remains an off-road vehicle with a generous 200mm ground clearance and short overhangs front and rear.

STRENGTH AND SOLIDITY

A central design element common to the first generation and the new X-TRAIL is the roof-line. By not tapering away to the rear of the car, a square, almost box-like, trunk area for maximum load carrying ability is preserved. This is matched by the static side windows and the gently flared shoulders which run in parallel to the roof, creating an impression of strength and solidity.

The roof is ribbed for extra strength and incorporates roof rails. Also available – on Sport eXpedition eXtreme and Aventura eXplorer eXtreme – are deep roof rails with in-built driving lamps which add a practical touch mixed with a strong sense of drama.

At the front, the bonnet line stretches out almost horizontally from the base of the windscreen while the rear tailgate is near vertical, meaning the extremities are easily visible from the driver’s seat.

UNIQUE STYLING FEATURES

Though the overall silhouette of the two cars is similar, the new X-TRAIL does have many unique aspects, notably the ‘capital-D’ shape of the rearmost side window which, in turn, gives the D-pillar a more dynamic appearance to strengthen the rear haunches of the car.

Although the tail-lights still frame the rear window, they have been completely restyled and no longer incorporate the reversing lamp, which moves down to the bumper to join the high intensity rear fog lamp.

The high-mounted stop lamp has also been moved, this time to the top of the tailgate above the rear window. This allows privacy glass to be fitted at the rear (SPORT and AVENTURA) – precluded in the past as the stop lamp was previously mounted behind the window itself and would not have been easily visible behind darkened glass.

DEEP TAILGATE AND LOW SILL

The tailgate is deeper than before to ensure the lowest possible loading sill, while the lower tailgate/underbody is covered in a robust plastic cladding for better body protection. This is finished in a dark graphite colour and links through to the front of the car via graphite trims which frame the wheel arches and the similarly coloured sill protector.

At the front, the headlights have been totally revised and, the AVENTURA eXplorer and eXplorer eXtreme with their xenon lamps have a more technical look to them. Bumpers both front and rear are more aggressively contoured to add graphic detail.

The grille now has a bigger honeycomb design behind the double strut motif found across Nissan’s 4x4 range. It also acts as a visual identifier; on TREK models the struts are body coloured, while on SPORT and AVENTURA they are chromed. TREK and SPORT have black door handles, while those on AVENTURA and the two SPORT upgrade packs are chrome. The handles themselves are more elegant, a single bar straddling an ovoid cut-out in the door in place of the raised panel used before.

TREK models have 16 inch five-spoke alloys, while all other X-TRAILs have a 17 inch six-spoke design.

Nissan X-TRAIL | Part Four
Published 12 December 2007 Melanie Carter

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