Thursday, 14 December 2017

Flagship Nissans raise their game even further

Flagship Nissans raise their game even further

THE two latest incarnations of Nissan’s premier SUV and urban crossover models — the X-Trail and the Qashqai, respectively — have so upped their game that I believe they can compete with comparable vehicles that are much more expensive.

This week’s drive, the X-Trail N Connecta, Nissan’s best-selling SUV (sport utility vehicle), demonstrates that a proven model — it was first launched 17 years ago in 2000 — can be reinvented again and again in this new world of high-tech motoring.

So in this present mood of car manufacture where high-tech is king, the X-Trail suddenly becomes a more desirable vehicle to own as well as being a practical one.

A few years ago I wrote that the
X-Trail at that time was a “deceptively large crossover SUV that manages its road space well by improved design inside and out”.

Well it’s always difficult to improve on that kind of amenity in a car, but Nissan with its 2018 model X-Trail has come up trumps once more.

This new X-Trail — the new diesel-engined version with the manual gearbox — drove and felt like a much more expensive car.

When you think that top of the range SUVs these days can cost you well over £40,000, the Nissan X-Trail — the test car I was driving came in at £30,555 — has to be seen as exceptionally good value for money.

Not only that, but when you look at the spec sheet the car manufacturer supplies, the final price usually states, “options included” (at added cost).

But on the X-Trail spec I was given the bottom line was the bottom line — so that everything on the N Connecta model came as “standard equipment”. We didn’t need to get into what are often expensive optional extras.

The only thing I found a little strange was that with all this excellent standard equipment, there were no heated seats.

Increasingly, I find that such comforts should be de rigueur for a car such as this, with its black leather trim, panoramic roof with one-touch shade, and leather steering wheel and gear knobs.

In recent weeks I have made a thing about having a heated steering wheel, but these comforts make all the difference to driving these days and should be standard fare in any mid to large higher-spec crossover or SUV. Let’s face it, you are going to spend a lot of time in traffic queues in all kinds of weather and road conditions — so you might as well make yourself comfortable for the duration.

Otherwise, the level of standard equipment on the X-Trail was comprehensive, from driver lumbar support, front and rear armrests, hands-free automatic opening power tailgate and dual zone automatic air conditioning.

Nissan also includes a Smart Vision Pack in its standard equipment on the X-Trail, which comprises traffic signal recognition, lane departure warning, intelligent forward emergency braking with pedestrian recognition and front and rear parking sensors.

Which all amounts to a well turned out car. Incidentally, the Palatial Ruby colour of this X-Trail was one of the best “reds” I have seen on any crossover or larger SUV.

Turning to the Qashqai. Anyone who has driven one will tell you this is an exceptionally good car to drive.

Nissan says that the model I was driving — the new Tekna+ grade — “delivers the ultimate Qashqai”.

Again, the driving and handling of this car was excellent. But what I like most about the Qashqai is its willingness to perform. As with the
X-Trail, the Qashqai comes with a plethora of standard equipment without the need for expensive add-on options.

Launched in 2007, the Qashqai is the most successful model in Europe in Nissan’s 83-year history.

Nissan has sold approximately 2.3million so far. It has won more than 80 awards, including an astonishing 19 car of the year titles.

Nissan says there are significant new enhancements on the new Qashqai, with the additional fifth grade — the aforementioned Tekna+ — sitting as the flagship of the line-up, above Visia, Acenta, N-Connecta and Tekna.

New premium seats are trimmed in soft nappa leather, with 3D quilting on the centre panels — a first for Nissan in Europe.

Black leather is standard and other features include ProPILOT autonomous drive technology and intelligent emergency braking with pedestrian recognition just one of Nissan Intelligent Mobility technologies added from autumn 2017.

If you are seriously looking for this type of car, the X-Trail and the Qashqai are worthy and affordable contenders.

Factfile

Nissan X-Trail N Connecta

Engine: dCi 130 2WD, diesel, 1598cc

Transmission: six-speed manual

Colour: Palatial Ruby

Total price: £30,555

Standard equipment includes:

NissanConnect EVO seven-inch touch screen navigation and entertainment system

DAB/AM/FM/CD audio system

AUX socket and USB port

Bluetooth with microphone

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