Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Off-Road Features on the Road

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Off-Road Features on the Road

Article excerpt

Byline: By John Scantlebury

Things aren't always what they seem, and you can count this version of Nissan's X-Trail among them. There it stands, bold and burly in true mud-lugging off-roader fashion, but this, in fact, is a straight front-wheel-drive car that's not going anywhere except on the road.

The obvious question is Why? Nissan's case is that the 4x2 is for those folk who want Sports Utility Vehicle style and practicality without the all-terrain mobility, and maybe it has a point.

Removing engineering that is, for most, surplus to requirements provides savings in both purchase and running costs, but you still have the solid SUV protection, high-seating visibility and spaciousness, the assets which attract 4x4 buyers. Even the wipe-clean boot floor remains.

This is a genuine family car. Nissan has furthered that by endowing the 4x2 with a Family Pack that adds some unusual and appealing features. At the back, for example, there is a centre armrest with flip-up sides to turn it into a more-than-useful-sized table that incorporates drinks-holders, a detachable toy box encasing a power point, and two outer headrests that have fold-out "ears" to provide head support for sleepy occupants. As the rear seats also recline, it's very easy to drop off and skip the stress of a long journey. Spaciousness in all directions is also a feature of this rear-seat area.

There's more interesting thinking at the front. All dials are centrally positioned, allowing for a handy dash-top container in front of the driver. The main idea is that info isn't hidden by the steering wheel, but I'm never really convinced by anything that demands a change of eyeline.

The neatest touch of all for me was the drinks holders at each end of the dash, with cooling or warming facility. A small thing but a nice one. There is a central chilled container as well. …

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