UK Car Road Test

Nissan X-Trail Turbo D SE 2002

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Nissan X-Trail 2.2 SE+ Turbo Di. 2002

This is a four wheel drive utility vehicle with a small diesel engine for such a large and heavy car.

So what is it like?

 

 
Cost New 21000    Residual @ 3 years N/A
Produced from  Jan 1 2001 to Apr 1 2003

With such an exotic Safari-type name you would think the X-Trail is a rough and ready type of car. And it is. Kind of. Almost. Maybe for the city anyway. Best leave the Safari to Knowsley then, I think. 

With full colour coding, fancy alloy rims, front fog lamps, colour coded mirrors and a plush leather interior to compare to an executive saloon, this car is already looking very much like a school run bus in a tough guise.


The shape is not dissimilar to the Subaru Forester and about the same size, as well as being a clone of the Ford Explorer. This one is colour coded in a champagne silver with beige leather trim and looks reasonably tasteful even though I don't like the physical external shape. Inside, it's very respectable and has a very airy appearance due to the huge sunroof allowing lots of light into the cabin area.

 

 

 

Specification on the SE+ Nissan is outstanding - all of the stops have been pulled and the sales people can be confident that the car is not likely to be surpassed by another make on spec at least.

The dash is a little unique with the main information clocks being situated in the centre of the dash. You quickly get used to them and they are clear and concise, being white with silver. Very tasteful, even sporty, I guess the rpm meter would need a few more numbers for this though. The fact that the red line is less than 5,000 rpm would tell you that the engine is a heavy oil model.


The X-Trail is quite subtle inside considering the car has so many electrical features, there are buttons, switches and knobs all over the place. There is full climate control, stereo remote, heated seats, 4wd switches, diff lock switches, numerous buttons for the MP-CD player and a myriad more just for the electrical adjusting and folding mirrors combined with the locking system and electric windows front and rear and then the sunroof controls. All simple to understand and use, just rather a lot in front of you and acclimatising yourself to them takes a little time.

Straight edges. Still looks good.

Plush seat does not imply 4X4 off road.

Nice chrome stereo. With plastic controls.

 

Comfort Features
Centre Arm Rest Front
Centre Arm Rest Front
Centre Arm Rest Rear
Centre Arm Rest Rear
Cup holders
Cup holders
Drivers seat Lumbar Support
Drivers seat Lumbar Support
Electric Operated Seat
Electric Operated Seat
Front Door Bins
Front Door Bins
Head Rests (front & rear)
Head Rests (front & rear)
Heated Front Seats
Heated Front Seats
Height Adjustable Drivers Seat
Height Adjustable Drivers Seat
Height Adjustable Seat Belts
Height Adjustable Seat Belts
Pollen Filter
Pollen Filter
Split rear seats
Split rear seats
Time Clock
Time Clock
General Features
12 V Accessory Power Point
12 V Accessory Power Point
Colour Coded Bumpers
Colour Coded Bumpers
Colour Coded Mirrors
Colour Coded Mirrors
Digital Odometer
Digital Odometer
Electric Folding  Mirrors
Electric Folding Mirrors
Heated Rear Window
Heated Rear Window
Rear Wash Wipe
Rear Wash Wipe
Roof Rails
Roof Rails
Tinted Windows
Tinted Windows
Luxury Features
Air Conditioning
Air Conditioning
Cigarette Lighter
Cigarette Lighter
Climate Control
Climate Control
Compact Disc Player
Compact Disc Player
Electric Mirrors
Electric Mirrors
Electric Windows (front & rear)
Electric Windows (front & rear)
Illuminated Passenger Vanity Mirror
Illuminated Passenger Vanity Mirror
Leather Steering Wheel
Leather Steering Wheel
Leather Upholstery
Leather Upholstery
Multiplay CD
Multiplay CD
Radio Cassette
Radio Cassette
Sunroof (electric)
Sunroof (electric)
Trip Counter
Trip Counter

 

 

 

 

 

The engine is a transverse mounted, four cylinder, turbo charged, inter-cooled, direct injection producing 000bhp which drives the rear wheels in normal use, giving an excellent mpg and reasonable performance for day-to-day running. When required, drive is distributed through all four wheels by using the electrical switch on the dash. For the odd time, when it's really challenged, diff lock is also fitted and is activated using another switch.

Little engine with modest bhp.

Inter-cooler not ideally placed.

Turn the key in the ignition and the Nissan starts very easily and is not particularly noisy or uneven for a diesel 4x4 with only four pots. 

The gearbox is a six speed unit of lightweight alloy. The gear selection is precise and smooth and combines with a very light clutch, making this 4X4 drive nothing like anything you may have imagined. The X-Trail is as easy as a Micra to gear change and drive.

6 forward gears! This is somewhat necessary to assist this relatively small engine to perform which is nippy but not powerful but that is acceptable. After all, it is a 4X4 utility and not in any way sports intended even though some design features may imply just that. It does rev quite high to my personal taste even in 6th gear on the motorway. I much prefer low down torque and grunt from a diesel and the X-Trail has some but not enough and a very short rev range. Thus making the driver constantly select alternative gears for smooth and adequate power.

 

Service Interval Insurance Group Safety Rating Smog Rating
18000 10 Not Available Band (D)
Engine BHP CC Fuel Inj.
Turbo Diesel 4 Cylinder 112 1998 No
Cyl Camshafts Valves/cyl Compressor
4 Single 2 Turbo Charger
Top Speed 0 to 60 BHP per Tonne
103mph 13.7seconds 73
MPG@Urban MPG@Cruise MPG@Speed Fuel Type
30.7mpg 47.1mpg 39.2mpg Diesel
Kerb Weight Tow Weight Length Width Height
1541kg 2000kg 451cm 177cm 167cm
Boot Seats/up Boot Seats/Down Seats
350 Litres 1841 Litres 5

Around the city streets the X-Trail keeps up with other traffic apart from overtaking where it's just about up to the standard. Any overtaking on A class roads with single carriageway is time consuming and plenty of run-up is advised. 

I was asked to pull a friend out of a field with a lwb twin axle Transit van (he had parked for the day and sunk into the mud due to the extremely wet weather) so the occasion arose to utilise the four wheel drive system. The X-Trail did this initially quite well. The car entered the very wet and water logged field and was not fazed by the conditions. I parked to the rear of the van, attached the very thick rope around the tow bar to the fully laden Transit, jumped into the Nissan, started the engine, applied the 4X4 drive, dropped the clutch and tried to pull away. NOT a chance! The wheels had road tyres fitted and were totally useless. To keep face I then applied the diff lock and tried again, however the van was a good few inches into the mud and required fierce and often abrupt tugs to move it even the smallest distance. Going well, then, I thought, as several attempts would eventually get the van on more level mud and ease the load. However, the most irritating feature about this so-called 4X4 soon became apparent. The four wheels spun on the mud with the diff lock applied whicht set off the ABS traction control electronics and shut it all down. You then had to switch off the engine and re-start the car to re-set the electronics and then continue. This feature is very dubious. A 4X4 with diff lock which turns off in the event of rough driving conditions almost entirely takes away all of this cars credibility as a 4X4. I guess I am not overly surprised with this type of performance and it is not unusual in today's market. The engineering of the car could cope well, it was the electronics which failed at the first hurdle and could not recover.

 

From such a large motor company as Nissan, this car is well balanced and handles very well on the road which is as you would expect as a consumer. It has the benefit of driving just the rear wheels which takes a large load from the front suspension and allows a good turn circle and manoeuvrability about town. At speed, when you eventually get it there, the car has very little wind and tyre noise considering its box shape. The centre of gravity is also low, making it better on than off road. But, again, it is my opinion that it is designed for the road and if you went across Africa you may end up cat food at the first hurdle.

The lighting is one item which is better than any older 4X4 The headlamps look to be Xenon but they are not, although the output is good.

Cool blue lights.

Cool chrome switches.

All aspects of the X-Trail are modern and engineered to appeal to current driver expectations. It does not have any of the older features of the 4X4 market with levers or handles for appropriate selection or utilisation, just modern technology. I am not sure which is better as the older drive systems could only fail mechanically. 
Steering is more like a saloon car than an off road motor. It is, of course, power assisted and does give very good driver feedback. Parking is as easy as any car and at speed it is balanced and precise in its direction without any meandering at speed and vague steering play such as commonly found in some older 4X4 cars. Accepted, all newer off road vehicles are leaps and bounds better than earlier models. With strong chassis and such heavily attached anti roll bars and shock-absorbers, the car does and should be better than an older Land Rover. To give a true comparison, off road the Land Rover would be the better work horse every time mechanically. You would, however, hate to drive one which places the X-Trail, like many other off road cars, into a small league of their own. School runs, Tesco and occasionally up a kerb is the most likely extent of the use. So why buy one?

 

Steer/Susp/Tech Features
Alloy Wheels
Alloy Wheels
Catalytic Converter
Catalytic Converter
Disc Brakes Front & Rear
Disc Brakes Front & Rear
Halogen Head Lights
Halogen Head Lights
Height Adjustable Headlight Aim
Height Adjustable Headlight Aim
Independent Suspension
Independent Suspension
Intermittent Wash Wipe
Intermittent Wash Wipe
Power Assisted Steering
Power Assisted Steering
Rear Spoiler
Rear Spoiler
Rev Counter
Rev Counter

 

It is argued that 4X4 drivers are selfish in their choice of car and the physical size of the vehicle is absurd for our roads and that the drivers should pay more road tax. Why?

Given the choice, like many others, if I were to daily transport my children in heavy traffic I would choose a strong and heavy vehicle. In the event of an accident this X-Trail would be far less likely to have internal damage if it collided into a Ford Fiesta.

All the usual safety standards are fitted - airbags, safety zones, impact beams, intelligent seat belts and much more. The car has the benefit of height which itself is a safety feature and I would rate this, along with its weight, as being of key importance. Of course, the weight also keeps its speed down which itself is another reason why 4X4 cars are probably not involved in as many accidents. It is commonly accepted that road accidents are generally speed related, hence this car would be a very safe bet with a 0-60 of 000 mph.

Drivers SRS.

Passengers SRS.

 

Safety/Security Features
Antilock Braking System
Antilock Braking System
Child Locks
Child Locks
Engine Immobiliser
Engine Immobiliser
Front Side Air Bags
Front Side Air Bags
Front Twin Airbags
Front Twin Airbags
High level brake Light
High level brake Light
Locking Fuel Cap
Locking Fuel Cap
Pre Tensioned front Seat Belts
Pre Tensioned front Seat Belts
Remote Central Locking
Remote Central Locking
Side Impact Protection
Side Impact Protection
Three Rear 3 Point Seat Belts
Three Rear 3 Point Seat Belts
Visible Identification Number
Visible Identification Number

I can't see any self respecting joy rider attempting to steal the X-trail as a community policeman would catch them on a bicycle up to the speed of 30mph. Thieves would not be seen in such a slow car and its credibility as a cool car is nonexistent. However, the professional car thief would see them as desirable as a lot of our stolen 4X4 cars are exported and given new identities in faraway lands. Accepting this, the security system is as good as all of the other top UK makers. Without the coded key the car will not drive. Very creditable and reliable, the problem now arises when the thieves burgle your home for the keys which is now very common. If you have an X-Trail and it is stolen you are not likely to recover it unless it has a tracking device fitted.

 

In reality I would not own an X-Trail before a Skoda. I accept this one is a very luxurious car and it does deliver a very good mpg. It just does not appeal to either the 4 wheel drive market or the saloon market with any conviction. I would either buy a rugged four wheel drive or a luxurious saloon. And a Nissan is not quite a Land Rover to pose to your peers with so the badge is not that credible either.

In terms of its more appealing points, it is very versatile - you can easily climb in and out of the front and rear with ease, more importantly, so can any offspring above the age of five. The interior is spacious in the rear and comfortable for any long family days out on the road (as opposed to off road). The boot is capacious with a volume of 000 litres, golf clubs and shopping will fit at the same time if needed.

 

Insurance and servicing costs are reasonable for the style of car. Reliability is very good and the bodywork is extremely stone chip resistant - this car had 100,000 miles on the clock and was far better than one may expect for the distance covered. Must have been motorway work, though, as the car would probably have fallen apart if it had worked in a safari park and achieved the same mileage.


 

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UK Car Road Test Nissan X-Trail Turbo D SE 2002

UK Car Road Test Keywords: 4*4 DieselX-Trail Turbo D SE