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What's special about this Nissan X-Trail?
Pablo Chaterji | October 07, 2006
I've only driven an X-Trail once, during last year's BSM slush fest where we pitted it against the Ford Endeavour and the Hyundai Tucson, and I was left wanting an extended experience at the wheel.
This wasn't merely because the X-Trail handily thrashed the other two during all our mud-plugging; to me, it was the most complete diesel SUV I had ever driven. The way it went, handled and rode was a revelation, and it was with considerable regret that I saw it go back to the Nissan showroom.
Therefore, when the call came to drive the new X-Trail, I was understandably delighted.
"Actually, it's not all-new", said the voice down the phone line. "There's a body kit available now that you can order with the Comfort version; that's the one you can drive."
This put a bit of a dampener on things, but only just - an X-Trail to drive (in this case, a Rs 21.27 lakh X-Pecial) was still something to look forward to.
The X-Pecial body kit (available only with the Comfort model and no, you can't retrofit one on your old X-Trail) gets you a new four-slat grille, new bumpers, rectangular fog lamps, clear lens tail lights, a chrome-plated exhaust pipe and black plastic garnishing around the door handles.
All of these are just fine on paper, but in the flesh? Here's the thing - I wish I could say that the new grille and tail-lamps give the already handsome X-Trail some extra character, but they end up making it look too flashy.
The X-Pecial takes on a semi-concept appearance, which doesn't quite jell with its off-road cred. There aren't any problems with quality, mind you; all the bits are absolutely top-notch, although at Rs 160,000 they had better be. It's just that the overall design integrity is compromised somewhat, which is a pity. Then again, this kit is a direct import from Japan, where oddball design elements are all the rage.
Other than this slight blip, the X-Trail remains the pleasure it's always been. It's great to drive, with a most non-SUV ride and handling package.
It's great to sit in, with acres of room and well thought-out interiors (and no, the centrally-mounted instruments aren't hard to get used to) and finally, it's great to go off-roading with - this really is a go-anywhere vehicle.And, on second thought, there are sure to be buyers who want their X-Trail to look "different" from the rest; this one's just what their doctor ordered.