Nissan's new X-Trail gets almost-electric power

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Nissan's New X-Trail Gets Almost-Electric Power Nissan's New X-Trail Gets Almost-Electric Power
Nissan will be hoping to steal back some share of the seven-seat SUV market with the launch of its fourth-generation of X-Trail
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Neil Briscoe

Nissan will be hoping to steal back some share of the seven-seat SUV market from the likes of Hyundai’s Santa Fe and Kia’s Sorento with the launch of its fourth-generation of X-Trail.

As with the previous X-Trail, you can consider this new model to be an up-sized version of the Qashqai, but with extra seats in the boot and a more bulky, muscly variation on the Qashqai’s styling. So, as with the smaller model, this new X-Trail copies much of the Qashqai’s look, including its arrowhead headlights and the tumbling ‘V-motion’ grille, but it adds height, width, and a sort of glowering, creatine-fed presence.

Inside, again, you’ll find a lot of commonality with the Qashqai including the digital instrument panel (which includes a background texture which Nissan says is a nod to Japanese traditional “Kiriko” cut glass), the infotainment screen (which now stretches to 12.3-inches and comes with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto) and most of the switches and buttons. There’s also the option of as large head-up display which projects driving information onto the windscreen. Thankfully, Nissan hasn’t thrown out physical buttons for the heating and air conditioning.

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There’s more space than you’ll find in a Qashqai though, and the second-row seats split-fold in 60:40 formation, as well as sliding back and forth to either maximise legroom, prioritise boot space, or to make more room for those sitting in the third row.

That third row is ‘available’ for now, but may come as standard in Irish market cars. Nissan says that the seats are designed “to accommodate passengers up to 160cm in height” which means kids only, really. Nissan claims that row three space is “among the most generous in its segment.” The second row outer seats tumble forward to make getting in and out that bit easier.

Fold down the third-row seats and you get a generous 585-litre boot, while the boot floor is adjustable if you’ve gone for the five-seat version.

The basic versions of this new X-Trail will be available with a 1.5-litre mild-hybrid petrol turbo engine, developing 163hp, and coming only in front-wheel drive form with a CVT automatic gearbox. The mild-hybrid system trims a little off the CO2 figure, allows for more use of the stop-start system around town, and can add a small boost of 6Nm of torque when accelerating.

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Of more interest is the e-Power part-electric system. This will also be offered in the current Qashqai shortly, and is effectively an electric car with a small battery, kept constantly topped-up by a petrol engine. There’s no option to plug it into the mains to charge up, but Nissan has previously said that the e-Power setup makes for a better all-round electric/combustion compromise than a conventional plug-in hybrid.

Energy comes from a variable compression 1.5-litre petrol engine while the total system output, via the electric motor, is 204hp. Nissan reckons that this gives the smooth, instant acceleration of an EV, the convenience of a hybrid, and (almost) the reduced CO2 emissions of a plug-in hybrid without the need to actually plug it in. The fact that it has a smaller battery than a plug-in hybrid also helps to keep its overall weight down, as well as making for better packaging of the interior. It’s this e-Power unit that will replace diesel power in the X-Trail lineup.

There are a number of clever touches to go with the e-Power, including what Nissan calls ‘linear tuning’ of the engine. This is meant to make sure that the engine sounds like it’s performing in a ‘natural’ fashion, ensuring that it’s spinning at an appropriate speed relative to road speed, avoiding the ‘rev-up’ effect of traditional hybrids under hard acceleration. It’s also said to be very refined, with Nissan quoting an 8-decibel reduction in cabin noise at 40km/h compared to some of its competition.

The X-Trail e-Power will also get the e-Pedal Step braking system, pioneered by the second-generation Nissan Leaf. This basically uses the mechanical drag of the electric motor to slow the car down, able as it is to brake the X-Trail at 0.2g, enough to illuminate the brake lights, and reduce the speed down to a ‘creeping’ speed, not a complete stop. This, claims Nissan, makes urban driving much more relaxing, and much more EV-like.

There’s also a two-motor four-wheel drive system, called e-4orce, which has 213hp and which can sprint to 100km/h in just 7.0secs. The fact that the system uses two electric motors, rather than taking drive from the petrol engine to the rear wheels, means that there’s no transmission hump in the cabin, freeing up extra space in the back seats for passengers’ feet.

Will all of this e-Power shenanigans play with Irish motorists? Will it prove to be as frugal on the road as Nissan claims, especially in a beefy car such as the X-Trail? We’ll start finding out in December, when the first X-Trails start to roll onto Irish forecourts.

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