The Nissan X-Trail e-POWER takes the Japanese marque to a new high, exemplifying how internal combustion still has a place in today’s electric climate.
This is the 4th iteration of Nissan’s flagship SUV, if you can believe it. It started off back in 2001 as a cheap and chunky pseudo 4×4, a contender in the vanguard of ‘soft-roaders’ that included big players like the Toyota RAV4 and Mitsubishi Outlander.
Like those two examples, the X-Trail has subtly poshed-up and polished out its rough edges over the years. With seven seats and more fuel-sipping technology thanks to Nissan’s quirky e-POWER powertrain, is that enough to give it the edge over its fierce SUV competition?
Sleek and refined
The Nissan X-Trail e-POWER’s facade is trying to ape the success of its smaller Qashqai sibling. It might not be as popular as the brand’s small SUV king, but it offers more of the same perks in a larger and more practical package. Much like the Nintendo GameCube to the Gameboy.
The looks of the X-Trail are rather pleasing as a whole, with a sleek Macintosh-esque guise juxtaposing against rugged cladding around the wheels and bumpers. It’s lost some of its original brash demeanour, but it exchanges it for more upmarket appeal.
Creature comforts aplenty
Unlike other models in the Nissan range, the X-trail e-POWER only comes with one variant, meaning everything in the cabin is standard. Nappa leather, large screens, sunroof, the lot.
You really do get quite a bit for your chunk of change, and while Nissan may not be the last word in style, it’s done a pretty good job with the X-Trail. There’s simple lines, with chrome effect detailing around to highlight different portions of the cabin.
Yes, there’s quite a bit of piano black plastic, which can get smudged and covered in fingerprints pretty quickly. But there are tons of cubby holes dotted around, perfect to stow away that microfibre cloth.
This tan leather helps brighten up the interior, with the full-length sunroof flooding sunlight in to make the cabin feel even more open. The other trim option is black, which is less likely to show up grime but doesn’t look as nice.
Although there are scratchy plastics to be found, especially lower down the cabin, the overall quality is pretty good and it all feels solid.
The infotainment system is also pretty robust, with twin 12.3-inch displays dominating your immediate vicinity. The centre touchscreen is smooth and simple to navigate, and a head-up display is included as well, bestowing you with all the information you’ll need at your disposal.
Wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto come as standard, and the wireless charging pad is angled, keeping your smartphone snug and secure even in the twisties. For those banging tunes, a Bose speaker system is on hand to deliver crisp beats.
Despite being based on the same mechanical bits as the Qashqai, the Nissan X-Trail e-POWER feels significantly bigger inside and easier to live with. You can easily find a comfortable driving position, with lots of adjustment leeway on offer.
Behind the front chairs, rear passengers will find a good amount of space. On this e4orce model, the second motor is mounted below the second row, meaning there’s a solid bulk that your feet are in front of. But, with no traditional gearbox to worry about, there’s no transmission tunnel.
That means more legroom for even with three across the back, and you can get your feet under the front seats for extra space. The tall boxy SUV stature also translates to great headroom all around.
Where it’s not recommended as somewhere to sit for long journeys though is in the optional third row. Even though you can slide the middle row forwards to allow for more knee and legroom, it’s still only adequate for young children.
Without the rearmost seats in use, the X-Trail has a decent 485-litre boot and a flat floor. It’s not the biggest in class, but its decent enough for the weekly shop and some additional family gear in tow.
Brisk yet frugal
Don’t be fooled by its large size; the Nissan X-Trail e-POWER only has a (relatively) tiny 1.5-litre engine under the hood. Seems small, doesn’t it? But that’s all it really needs.
If you’re unaware, Nissan’s e-Power technology enables their cars to run exclusively on electrical power, unlike other hybrid vehicles. Electrical motors drive all four wheels, and the engine is only there acting as a generator of sorts, with fancy tech that enables it to vary its compression ratio to burn petrol more efficiently at different loads.
The result? Instant electrical torque and speedy acceleration, without ever needing to plug the car in. The X-Trail also takes things to the next level. Other e-Power vehicles like the Kicks e-POWER, Note e-POWER and Serena e-POWER all rely on a single front motor. But, the X-Trail is Nissan’s first-ever ‘all-wheel-drive’ e-Power model, meaning it has a pair of these puppies instead.
Even with a modest 157kw (211bhp) of power and 330Nm of torque, the X-Trail is rather accomplished on urban roads. With more refined suspension than the previous version, this new X-Trail is very comfortable in town, soaking up bumps impressively.
The e-POWER setup is also very quiet. You can sometimes hear the petrol engine tick into life to charge the battery up, but sounds from that department are greatly subdued. Plus, with instant torque delivery from the electric motors, you can get up to speed pretty sharpish and pull into traffic with ease.
Visibility is decent too, with a large rear window and chunky wing mirrors providing good all round coverage. Add into the equation light steering, and the X-Trail is a doddle to manoeuvre on city roads, even with its large road presence. 360-cameras and standard-fit parking sensors make parking a breeze too.
However, being a family-oriented SUV, this X-Trail is not as capable when thrown at speed into a corner. Sport mode does sharpen the throttle response and adds extra weight to the steering, but it’s not necessary nor that focused.
Off the beaten track and on looser surfaces, the X-Trail isn’t going to blow you away, but it does cope well. Engaging the various off-road modes in the drive selector does provide you with confidence to take on a loose gravel road, but don’t expect it to go completely off-piste as well as the likes of Land and Rover.
For families, long-distance driving can sometimes be difficult if the car isn’t up to the task. But the X-Trail manages to be a great car to cruise in and features like intelligent cruise control fitted as standard help to take some of the strain out of longer journeys.
Stepping up the game
It’s a damn good package, but the biggest Achilles heel of the Nissan X-Trail e-POWER is its price. Yes, most of it is due to the astronomical COE prices our country has become world-famous for, but even so, this car still sits pretty at a quarter of a million (SGD$250,000 at the time of writing). That’s a huge chunk of change.
“But if I can justify the cost, is it worth it?” Absolutely. The X-trail is a masterpiece in engineering, edging out its rivals with its good looks and nifty technology.
Seven-seaters by their nature are expensive to run, so anyone in the market for one will be grateful for the added ‘eco boost’ from the e-POWER set-up. This segment is as crowded as they come, and the X-Trail elevates your perception of what an SUV can be, showing its competitors how it’s done.
Nissan X-Trail e-POWER e-4ORCE Hybrid
Engine: 1,497cc 3-cylinder in-line 12-valve DOHC Turbocharged
Power: 211bhp (Combined)
Torque: 330Nm (Front), 195Nm (Rear)
Gearbox: Single Speed Reduction Gear (A)
0-100km/h: 7.9 seconds
Top Speed: 180km/h
Fuel Economy: 14.93 km/L (claimed)
Price: S$255,800 with COE (accurate at the time of this article)
Contact: Nissan Singapore
Photo Credits: Sean Loo (@auto.driven)
Kia Niro Electric – keeps getting better. Check it out here!