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in this issue ASA BUTTERFIELD BY MITCHELL NGUYEN MCCORMACK

Wheels: Nissan’s All New X-Trail 2.5 CVT

BLAZE A NEW TRAIL. Renaldi Hutasoit floors down the throttle of Nissan All New X-trail 2.5 CVT to find all the great surprises waiting

 

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On paper, the 2015 Nissan All New X-Trail 2.5 CVT is an underdog in its segment. Initially I was rather reluctant to have it for a test drive, not ready to be betrayed by its handsome-looking appeal. To be completely frank, the engine power seems to be the Achilles’ heel. The previous generations of Nissan All New X-Trail 2.5 CVT have always been considered the hotrod of the Japanese mid-size SUV. When its competitors were struggling to push 170hp, the All New X-Trail 2.5 CVT was enjoying 180ps. But now, the All New X-Trail 2.5 CVT packs light with only 171ps, which compares unfavorably to the 190ps and 187ps of its competitors. This is a whopping 19ps down from its strongest competitor. Torque-wise, the 2015 SUV is more on par at 23.8kgm compared to 25.5kgm and 22.6kgm made by its competitors. However, the power deficit does not make itself apparent during my zero to 100kph acceleration tests. The All New X-Trail 2.5 CVT manages to clock an average time of 9.4 seconds, on par with the rest of the field.

Thanks to the very smooth Xtronic.

Continuously Variable Transmission (CVT), the Nissan All New X-Trail 2.5 CVT could also accelerate with vigor at in-town speeds. If you want to pass a slower car, a light press on the throttle is enough to get it going. Actually, I was never a fan of CVT due to its inherent throttle tip-in lag and the drone it produces when accelerating. In a car with CVT, there is no physical gear inside the transmission. Typically, the engine will be maintained at around the meatiest rpm range, while the CVT will adjust the vehicle’s speed. Hence, as you gain speed, the rpm and engine noise remain the same. An unnatural sensation. Fortunately, in the All New X-Trail 2.5 CVT, Nissan has managed to make the CVT operate like an ultra-smooth dual-clutch automatic. I was pleasantly surprised.

 

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Another surprise Nissan built into the CVT is the Active Engine Braking (AEB) where the CVT downshifts and provides additional deceleration assistance in reducing the vehicle speed to the desired speed. It smoothly adds small amounts of engine braking to assist the brakes, thus decreasing the frequency and effort required to brake the vehicle, which makes driving easier and more comfortable. The need for more power becomes apparent only on the toll road at triple digit speeds. When I floored the throttle for a few seconds, the speeds that I arrived at were about 10 or 15kph lower than expected. Not that you would feel underendowed in the All New X-Trail 2.5 CVT, it is just that the high-speed acceleration was less strong than at in-town speeds.

 

“In the All New Xtrail 2.5 CVT, Nissan has managed to make the CVT operate like an ultra-smooth dual-clutch automatic. I was pleasantly surprised”

 

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I was impressed, though, with how the Nissan All New X-Trail 2.5 CVT suspension controls body movements. Very unlike SUV, but in a good way, of course. It was apparent that, in doing so, Nissan set the shock absorbers to have more resistance when extending, to offset the rebound of the springs. In addition to excellent mechanical setup, Nissan has a technology called the Active Ride Control that moderates fore and aft pitching caused by bumps by controlling the engine and brakes. This in turn delivers a smoother driving experience; the car does not wallow yet still has plenty of compliance to allow comfortable ride over road undulations. When negotiating corners, the All New X-Trail 2.5 CVT has another ace up its sleeve called Active Trace Control system, which will apply braking automatically to each wheel, helping keep the vehicle on the cornering line as steered. The system helps drivers smoothly maintain control, so they are able to relax and drive around corners more confidently. Honestly, you would be forgiven to think that you were in a European SUV when driving the All New X-Trail 2.5 CVT.

Once you are inside, the all-black interior greets you. The ambience of the interior is refined, thanks to the lack of exterior noise coming into the cabin—including the engine noise, unless you really floor the throttle. Zero-Gravity leather seats developed using NASA-measured “neutral posture” are indeed very comfortable. The front seats are electronically adjustable. Coupled with a telescopic and rake-adjustable steering wheel, it was a breeze to find my ideal seating position. The soft plastic dashboard is elegantly laid out, not overly stylized like in some other Japanese cars, with a multimedia display and automatic climate control taking center stand on the dash. Being equipped with an Intelligent Key, starting the engine only requires a push of a button.

Driver comfort and convenience rank really high on Nissan’s list of objectives. To aid in parking, Nissan has a feature called Around View Monitor, which consists of four cameras on the car body at the front, rear and underneath the side mirrors. The system converts video footage from all four cameras and composites a virtual bird’s-eye view image that is very helpful. Not only that, the multimedia display also shows you rear view image to aid you further while reverse-driving. There is also the Hill Start Assist that keeps the X-Trail stationary for a couple of seconds to keep the car from rolling back after stopping on an incline, say, at a traffic light. Similar to much more expensive SUVs, the Nissan All New X-Trail 2.5 CVT is equipped with Hands Free Back Door system that opens and closes the rear hatch at a touch of a button.

 

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Safety is far from forgotten in the 2015 All New Nissan X-Trail 2.5 CVT. Nissan has a comprehensive approach on this very important subject, called Nissan Safety Shield. The system has three roles: Keeping an eye out before anything happens, helping to respond when the driver needs to react, and protecting when an incident is imminent. The system uses multiple safety features already mentioned above, in addition to the more common ones such as Vehicle Dynamic Control to aid in vehicle stability when on the move, Anti-Lock Braking to allow steering input when braking really hard, Electronic Brake Distribution that adjusts brake bias according to vehicle load, and, of course, airbags for both front passengers and Latch system for anchoring a child seat.

The New Nissan X-Trail 2.5 CVT has managed to impress me so much that I am considering purchasing one for my own due to its refinement, good looks, practicality and value for money. Now, it all boils down to the speed and if I could make up my mind whether the X-Trail is a quick enough car for me.

 

SPECS: ALL NEW NISSAN XTRAIL 2.5 CVT
Engine:
2.5 liter
Power: 171ps
Transmission: Xtronic CVT with manual mode

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