It’s inside the X-TRAIL that Nissan has made the most changes, many in response to customer feedback. There’s a completely new dashboard with more ergonomically designed controls. Switches for the climate control are now grouped into three circular knobs shared with the 350Z and positioned higher on the centre console. Operation of the X-TRAIL’s innovative and electronic ALL-MODE 4x4 system is now by knob rather than button – apparently customers find turning a knob more satisfying… They also want more fresh air to the face so there’s a new air vent mounted above the steering column. And customers asked for longer front seat cushions so they’ve got those, too. Other requests that Nissan has fulfilled are for better quality materials, more storage space, more interior illumination and a higher opening tailgate. A demand for leopard print seat covers was ignored though.

In some instances, Nissan went even further to keep customers happy. Take the luggage net which they wanted fitted to their X-TRAIL. Well, it is now. And rather than just coming up with a net that keeps loose bags of shopping from going AWOL around the luggage area, Nissan created a net that can be clipped any way around the customer wants. It even turns itself into a dog guard. Without anybody asking, Nissan has changed the air conditioned can holders so that they are now vertically mounted by the windscreen pillars and added a chillable centre console box. It’s easily big enough for a packed lunch if not the dog.

One area where existing X-TRAIL-ers were quiet was exterior design. They like it and they like its good residual values. So why change things. All Nissan has done is make the car a little easier to park with a new front bumper design that shaves 55 mm off the overall length. This has also led to a new mesh grille and, as is the current trend, white side indicators and smoked effect rear lamps. The 16" alloy wheel design has also changed. But not so that you’d notice. It’s the same size as before and just as easy to clean. More obvious to existing X-TRAIL-ers are the three new colours that they can now choose from. But sorry Ms Robinson of Harrow, there’s still no pink.

The base model in the original X-TRAIL range, badged the S, has gone. Instead the range starts with a new SE derivative that gains side airbags as well as a CD player, an alarm, the cargo net, driver’s seat lumbar adjustment, and electronic climate control instead of a sunroof. It also gets new seat upholstery as well as all the other interior improvements detailed above. There are two engines offered, a 2.0-litre 140PS petrol carried over from the outgoing S priced at £16,995 and the new six-speed dCi for £18,395. Both versions come with Nissan’s innovative ALL-MODE 4x4 system which gives a choice of two-wheel drive, automatically selecting four-wheel drive and a ‘LOCK’ facility that fixes the torque going to front and rear axles. And all at the twist of a knob now rather than a push of a button.

continues... | Part Three

Published : 11/12/03 Author : Melanie Carter

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