With the air quality debate raging, Nissan is looking to build its brand by offering a petrol-hybrid SUV – the first of its kind in the country. So, we know it’s clean. The question is what’s it like to drive?
If you look at Nissan’s history in India, one model nameplate that will definitely stand out is the X-Trail. Among the first two products offered when the brand had just made its entry into the Indian market, the X-Trail was a unique product at that time – and very capable too. But limited market presence and a lack of brand awareness meant that it didn’t sell in large numbers.
However, having made large investments in the Indian market over the past few years, and with India being a priority market, Nissan is planning to once again launch the X-Trail in India – but with a twist. It will, at least initially, only be offered as a Hybrid variant. This is an interesting move, and could prove to generate a fair amount of interest in the X-Trail brand. The powertrain of the X-Trail in Hybrid form consists of a petrol engine customized for hybrid application – the 2.0-litre produces 142bhp, while an electric motor produces another 40bhp or 30KW.
We got a chance to do a brief test drive of the X-Trail on the roads around the Buddh International circuit, and you do expect to be swept away on a sea of petrol power and electric energy. But, since power is transmitted to the wheels via an efficient CVT transmission, despite the extra torque low down, the power delivery is mired by the rubber-band effect that’s a trademark of all Continuously Variable Transmissions. That doesn’t mean, however, that the X-Trail Hybrid is slow – because there’s plenty of torque available and it accelerates quite well. It’s just that progress isn’t quite electric as you’d expect!
The suspension of the X-Trail also behaved quite well during our brief stint, with impressive ride quality, while the chassis setup seems quite polished. However, we’d need to perform a detailed test before providing a definitive verdict. The interiors of the X-Trail, on the other hand, feel very well made with excellent material quality. And the greatest asset of the X-Trail is just how spacious it is. There’s a large amount of leg and shoulder room, especially in the rear seat, which means it’ll make for a great car to be chauffeured around in. Add to that a fairly large boot – which offers good luggage capacity despite having a battery stored where the spare wheel would typically sit – and it makes for quite a practical vehicle.
The X-Trail Hybrid does have a neat party trick too, as the car runs purely on electric power when driven below the 30km/h mark. And this makes for quite an experience, as the noise of the traditional internal combustion engine is missing. And whenever you need to speed up, a firm flex of the right foot gets the engine started and going in a flash. However, one particular niggle that stood out was the brake pedal feel – as it’s also connected to the battery recharging system. So, when depressed, it has an unnatural feel to it.
Overall, as a first impression, I would think that the X-Trail Hybrid will probably never be a volume seller – given its rather niche appeal. Having said that, if you look at the number of Camry Hybrids that you see – especially in the Capital – the X-Trail could find an interesting sweet spot in the market when it’s launched next year. The trouble is that, since it’ll be brought in as a CBU, it’ll be pretty pricey. But if you want a car that can be driven during the infamous odd-even scheme in Delhi, and one that can handle absolutely anything our roads can throw at it, then you may want to wait for the X-Trail Hybrid. Plus, it’ll keep your green flag flying very high indeed!
- Nissan X-Trail Hybrid
Combustion Engine: 1,997 cc / 4-Cylinders / Dohc / 16 Valve
Electric Motor: AC Synchronous motor
Transmission: Xtronic cvt / Front-Wheel Drive
Power: Combustion Engine - 142bhp @ 6,000rpm / Electric Motor - 40bhp
Torque: Combustion Engine- 200Nm @ 4,400rpm / Electric Motor- 160Nm