JOHANNESBURG – Five weeks ago, Nissan South Africa launched its facelifted X-Trail range. Colleague Peter Palm attended the launch and sampled the 1,6 dCi Tekna 4x4 (you can read his first impressions here).

During a recent visit to Johannesburg, we had the chance to drive a more affordable derivative: the 2,5 Acenta AWD CVT.

What’s that sticker on the rear?

Called the “dog pack” (one car enthusiast we met suggested Nissan call it the "Paw Pack" instead), this package comprises a raft of accessories aimed at canine-lovers. These include a fold-up, grippy walkway to allow short-legged hounds easy access to the luggage (doggy?) compartment, along with an X-Trail-branded, soft-padded sleep basket, an even softer blanket, a play ball, a stainless steel bowl and even a bone. Underneath all of this you’ll find a sturdy rubber carpet to keep your luggage compartment protected.

Another addition, which is handy even if you don't have dogs, is the fixed luggage grid that keeps various items (and, of course, pets) from entering the passenger compartment. All of these accessories are available through Nissan’s dealerships.

Behind the wheel

Additional equipment aside, this X-Trail is powered by a 2,5-litre, naturally aspirated four-cylinder petrol engine. Connected to a CVT transmission, the car is effortless to drive whether pottering around in traffic or cruising on the highway.

At an indicated 120 km/h, the rev-counter settles just below 2 000 r/min. Although there are steps built into the transmission, the gearbox is a true CVT in its operation, which does result in that tell-tale “droning” noise when the throttle is pinned for rapid overtaking manoeuvres. At times, I found myself considering that a turbodiesel derivative would be a better choice, delivering an even more relaxed driving experience.

Both the ride quality and noise insulation are impressive. During three days of driving in Gauteng, which included some slow-moving traffic as well as a spot of highway driving, the average fuel consumption came in at 8,8 litres per 100 km. That's fairly impressive, considering that the Honda CR-V 1,5-litre turbopetrol I’m currently running as part of CAR's long-term fleet manages only marginally better consumption.


Priced at R425 900, this variant in the facelifted Nissan X-Trail line-up represents good value, particularly when measured against a competitor such as the aforementioned Honda CR-V. Although the CR-V has more interior room, a decent equipment level and better perceived trim and finishes, you have to ask yourself if you’re willing to pay some R200 000 more for these added features and space.

Ultimately, the X-Trail is spacious enough, relatively light on fuel and offers all the comfort you need at this price point, with the added benefit of being able to venture off-road. And, of course, you can take your dogs with you.