The Nissan X-Trail seven-seat SUV is good but not great
Under the radar CHECKING THE RIGHT BOXES: The cabin is nothing to shout about but it's nice. For rear passengers, there's lots of space in all directions and climbing in and out of the car is a cinch, thanks to the 'theatre seating' concept of the middle row

NOBODY really notices the office boy. The one that quietly goes about delivering the mail, or refilling the water cooler, or maybe even helping you photocopy a stack of documents. The third-generation Nissan X-Trail is kind of in the same vein. It doesn't really stand out in a sea of SUVs and it's not a car somebody will probably aspire to own. Which is a pity as it is a decent all-rounder.

Yes, it might not garner any awards in the looks department but it is a far cry from its utilitarian-looking predecessor. The 2015 X-Trail's sheet metal is a lot more urban chic than jungle grunge and there's a full-length panoramic glass sunroof to give occupants the al fresco experience in air-conditioned comfort. The stock 18-inch alloys don't look puny under the arches and LED tails lights reside in the sensor-activated powered tailgate that allows "contactless" opening/closing.

Like the exterior, the cabin is nothing to shout about but it's nice. Perhaps not St Regis nice but a far cry from a budget hotel. There's a multi-function steering wheel that adjusts for reach and rake, "zero gravity" height adjustable driver's seat to ensure a commanding driving position and an eight-inch touchscreen located in the centre console. The screen controls the audio system as well as Bluetooth telephony and navigation system. It's a locally fitted set but one will be hard pressed to tell simply by looking at it and most of the functions work well, save for the navigation portion. There's also a factory-fitted, 360-degree, top down "Around View" parking monitor in addition to the standard reverse sensors. Keyless entry and engine start are just some of the creature comforts that we've come to expect but a decent sounding stereo and air-conditioned cup holders are always a nice touch.

For rear passengers, there's lots of space in all directions and climbing in and out of the car is a cinch, thanks to the "theatre seating" concept of the middle row. Boot space is aplenty too - and the good news is that there's a third row of seats that folds neatly away when not needed. Ferrying seven passengers to KL is definitely possible - if you intend to travel with only a toothbrush and no luggage. But the third row of seats is better suited for that quick scoot out for lunch with colleagues or giving your child's basketball mates a lift home. In general, the cabin is well appointed, and build quality is good. Not luxurious by a long shot but definitely no complaints given the amount of standard kit.

Basically, the X-Trail has zero options - everything is including in the retail price of S$152,800. This includes four-wheel drive, in case you ever want to venture offroad. There was no chance to put it though its paces off road but the ground clearance is generous and there's a display in the dash that tells you how much torque is being apportioned to each wheel as well as the status of the Active Trace suspension control. Active Trace Control improves cornering prowess by automatically and seamlessly applying a small amount of braking force to individual wheels to maintain vehicle trajectory. Still, enthusiastic cornering is definitely not its forte as there's a fair bit of roll, but the ride is good and well-insulated from road irregularities. And there's no need to slow down for road humps, thanks to the liberal amount of suspension travel which helps maintain momentum - a plus as Nissan's Xtronic CVT and two-litre 144 hp direct injection engine do work together best when the 1,621 kg X-Trail is up to speed. For daily driving, the X-Trail is up to task but pressing on hard will cause a bit of a ruckus in the otherwise serene cabin.

So it can transport up to seven in a pinch with its third row of seats, fulfil most adventurers' off-road fantasies with Hill Descent Control and its new clothes won't make you feel too shabby when pulling up in front of the valet. It might tick all the correct boxes but unfortunately buying a car in Singapore is a very different affair from most countries. Yes, value is somewhat paramount but when paying more than what a brand new two-room BTO costs for a car, sometimes just checking the right boxes is not enough. The car must also speak to the heart, not just the mind.

Just like the office boy who is doing a good job, the X-Trail is a downright capable car that's akin to a Swiss army knife. Useful but you don't see everyone carrying one around.

CAR INFORMATION

Nissan X-Trail 2.0 Premium 7-Seater (A)

Price

:POA

Engine Type

:

4-cylinder in-line DOHC

Engine Cap

:

1,997 cc

Horsepower

:

142 bhp / 6,000 rpm

Torque

:

200 Nm / 4,400 rpm

Transmission

:

Xtronic CVT (A)

Acceleration

:

12.1 sec (0-100 km/h)

Top Speed

:

180 km/h