After many years of silence, the Nissan brand is all set to bounce back and make its presence felt once again in the Malaysian automotive landscape.
Edaran Tan Chong Motor, the authorised distributor of Nissan vehicles in Malaysia announced that it will launch not one or two, but at least four new models within the next couple of years, with the sole mission of bringing the brand up to speed with its rivals, the big ‘T’ and the big ‘H’.
The new models mentioned above are none other than the new Almera, new Sylphy, a new B-segment SUV, the Leaf electric car, the new Serena Hybrid, and of course, the model we’re looking at here – the new X-Trail.
Unveiled in March, the big news with the new X-Trail is the addition of a 2.0-litre self-charging hybrid variant to the lineup, which brings the total amount of variants to four:
- X-Trail 2.0L 2WD – RM133,888
- X-Trail 2.0L 2WD Mid – RM145,888
- X-Trail 2.5L 4WD – RM153,888
- X-Trail 2.0L 2WD Hybrid – RM159,888
About a month after its first public appearance at the Malaysia Autoshow 2019, we had the opportunity to get our hands on the new flagship hybrid variant during a media test drive session from Glenmarie to the Belum Royal Rainforest in Perak.
Even though all of the variants were available, our mission for the day was to sample the new hybrid variant, see what it had to offer, and to find out if it is really worth the extra RM8,000 it asks over the 2.5L variant.
Unlike the Serena S-Hybrid which is a micro hybrid, the X-Trail here is actually a full hybrid despite having the same engine capacity, meaning that the latter can actually be driven from stationary position using only the electric motor unlike the Serena which still needs the engine. You may read more about the differences here.
- Engine: MR20DD 2.0L 4-cylinder petrol with Twin CVTC, direct injection
- Transmission: CVT with 7-Speed Manual Mode
- Max Power: 144 PS at 6,000 rpm
- Max Torque: 200 Nm at 4,400 rpm
- Electric Motor Output: 41 PS / 160 Nm
- Fuel consumption: 6.2 litres / 100 km
- Origin: Assembled in Serendah, Selangor
At a glance, you may mistake the new X-Trail for the pre-facelift model because the updates are actually very subtle.
Only if you look closely, you will notice that the front fascia has been tweaked, featuring Nissan’s new V-Motion grille which reminds us of the Navara’s front grille.
Complementing the new grille is a redesigned bumper, new “boomerang” headlights with LED DRLs, new smoked LED combination taillights, as well as a new wheel design. Also new is the Imperial Umber colour option.
Besides these updates, everything remains the same as far as the X-Trail’s exterior is concerned.
If we are to compare its looks with its key rivals like the Honda CR-V and the Mazda CX-5, the X-Trail does look a tad more conservative and dated because we’ve been looking at it for close to five years and it still looks somewhat the same.
There is no denying that it is still a good looking SUV, but it seems to lack the freshness some of its rivals have.
Unlike the exterior, quite a bit of development and effort has gone into the new X-Trail’s cabin. New features include a new, sportier flat-bottom steering wheel, shift lever, and soft-touch dashboard panel.
A new 7-inch infotainment system with Android Auto and Apple CarPlay connectivity, Voice Recognition, as well as offline navigation is also bundled in as standard.
Besides that, an electric parking brake with Auto-Hold function is now standard across the range. Also new is the piano black trim around the air-conditioning vents which gives the cabin a slightly more premium look compared to before.
As for the hybrid variant which we tested, there is intelligent cruise control and also autonomous emergency braking features.
Unlike the other variants which actually have three rows of seats (5+2), the X-Trail Hybrid is strictly a five-seater, as the space for the third row has been compromised to fit the hybrid battery system.
Even the rear seats in the hybrid variant are different from the 2.0 and 2.5-litre variants. While the rear seats in the non-hybrid variants felt stiffer and a bit more upright, the ones in the hybrid version felt softer, and noticeably more comfortable.
Nissan has added extra NVH insulation as well in four areas (floor, rear body panel, rear wheel housing, dashboard), to make the cabin quieter and more refined than before.
As far as standard equipment is concerned, the X-Trail Hybrid here comes with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, 6 airbags, ESC, around view monitor, Electronic Parking Brake with Auto Hold, lane departure warning, blind spot warning, rear cross traffic alert, powered tailgate with foot detection, active cruise control, forward collision warning, and autonomous emergency braking among others.
Our journey from Glenmarie to the Belum Royal Rainforest in Perak comprised a good balance of everything Malaysian roads have to offer, from uneven surfaces, potholes, silky smooth highway stretches, long corners, tight corners, mountain roads, city traffic, and everything in between.
The first thing we noticed was that the cabin is much quieter and more refined than what it was. Further complemented by the super comfortable seats, the X-Trail turned out to be quite an enjoyable vehicle to be in.
Build quality is still not as impressive as the CX-5 or the Volkswagen Tiguan, but we found the X-Trail to be more comfortable than most of its rivals, more spacious than the CX-5, and a lot quieter than the Honda CR-V. In all, the X-Trail’s interior, especially in terms of NVH, has taken a big step forward from before.
With 144 PS and 200 Nm courtesy of the 2.0-litre naturally aspirated 4-cylinder petrol engine, and the electric motor’s 41 PS and 160 Nm of torque, the X-Trail hybrid had adequate power during most driving situations, but every time we put the pedal to the floor during overtaking and accelerating, engine noise also got louder.
The infamous CVT rubber-band effect also became more apparent when we tried to drive the X-Trail hard, but never once did it lose its composure, even when we were throwing it around a few tight bends along the Gerik-Kuala Kangsar stretch.
Yes, there is still noticeable body roll as the X-Trail is a typical top-heavy SUV and the suspension setup is comfort oriented, but it can still be driven hard to a certain extent.
In town, under 40 km/h speed, the petrol engine turns off and the electric motor takes over until the battery runs out of juice. Once the engine kicks in, which you can barely feel, it feels like a typical 2.0-litre SUV.
Despite being powered by a 2.0-litre engine, the additional boost provided by the electric motor makes the X-Trail hybrid the quickest variant in the entire range.
The best part is that it also consumes the least amount of fuel. During our stint with the X-Trail hybrid, we managed to cover close to 750 km with a full tank of fuel.
One feature which took us quite some time to get used to, and bothered almost everyone who drove the X-Trail hybrid for the first time during the preview session was the model’s regenerative braking system, which had minimal brake pedal feel and required us to really step on it hard in order to stop.
Even though we got used to it over time and there was the Intelligent Forward Emergency Braking to ensure that the X-Trail hybrid stops where it should, things would’ve felt better if the regenerative braking system had more feel and felt more natural.
Ever since the third-gen X-Trail made its debut in 2015, it has managed to win the hearts of many Malaysians, and has proved itself to be an ideal and reliable family vehicle.
If we are to compare it with its rivals, the X-Trail is definitely not as quick as the CR-V VTEC Turbo, or as composed and enjoyable to drive as the Mazda CX-5 or the Tiguan, but where it stands out is in terms of comfort, practicality, and safety.
Now, with the facelifted version, Nissan has taken things a step further by introducing a hybrid version which is the most fuel efficient in class.
So, there is no denying that the X-Trail is definitely a better product than before. However, knowing how competitive the SUV market has become, Nissan should’ve done more with the X-Trail’s design to make it more appealing to new customers as the model’s design has started showing signs of aging.
In all, as it is with all vehicles in our market, whether the X-Trail Hybrid is the right vehicle for you depends on what you’re looking for.
If you want power and pure driving dynamics, maybe you would want to look at a CX-5 or a CR-V, but if your priority is reliability, comfort, and fuel economy, the X-Trail Hybrid might just be the model for you.
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