Long-term introduction: Nissan X-Trail 1,6 dCi 4×4 LE
The acronym JIT stands for “just in time” and refers to an efficient manufacturing process in which each vehicle part arrives at the production line just as it’s needed. The fire-truck red Nissan X-Trail also arrived just in time, in this case before we departed on a 5 000 km family trip. My requirements extend beyond timing, however, as I need a vehicle with sufficient cabin space for a family of four, long-distance comfort and off-road ability. Will the X-Trail fulfil these needs?
In LE spec and here fitted with the optional Techno Pack, the X-Trail has a plethora of convenience features including a seven-inch touchscreen infotainment system with navigation, four external surround-view cameras, lane-departure and blind-spot monitors, a sunroof and powered tailgate.
I completed the first leg of the trip, from Cape Town to Tzaneen, on my own as my family had flown north earlier. That gave me the opportunity to enjoy my favourite songs at elevated sound levels while appreciating the comfortable, relaxed drive at the national speed limit. Once I joined my family, luggage-carrying capability was put to the test. The sliding rear bench freed up additional boot room, as liberal amounts of legroom aren’t that important with infants. The X-Trail swallowed all four of us and the related paraphernalia, and we departed for Kruger National Park. The vehicle’s ample ground clearance allowed us to explore roads less travelled and the cabin remained comfortable despite the sweltering heat thanks to the capable climate-control system.
Back in Tzaneen, I decided to test the vehicle’s off-road capability and ventured into a forested area with undulating terrain. The 1,6-litre turbodiesel engine delivers 96 kW and 320 N.m of torque, figures that just fall short of those of its competitors sporting engines of 2,0-litre capacity and larger. And therein lies a problem; the smaller unit needs revs to produce its full amount of torque, which is not ideal in a technical off-road scenario. Combined with a high first gear (there is no low range), it meant a lot of clutch slipping (and stalling) to conquer tougher obstacles.
Turbo lag was also more evident on the way back to Cape Town owing to the X-Trail being fully loaded. But there is an upside: low fuel consumption. The trip computer showed an average diesel thirst of only 6,3 litres/100 km for the entire trip. The Nissan coped well with about 100 km worth of dirt-road driving between Loxton and Fraserburg in the Karoo and it was comforting to know a full-size spare is fitted.
After 1 month
Mileage now: 5 847 km
Fuel consumption (litres/100 km): 6,9 litres/100 km
We like: space, long-distance comfort, frugal consumption
We don’t like: lack of torque below 2 000 r/min