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Old 19th October 2009, 11:32   #1
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Default Nissan X-Trail : Test Drive & Review

What you’ll like :

- Powerful 2.0L diesel with 148 BHP + 320 NM of torque
- A/T version has a silky smooth 6-speed gearbox
- Sedan-like handling and ride quality
- Great braking feel and capability
- ABS + EBD + BA + 6 airbags + ESP (top variant)
- Epic amounts of (versatile) boot space

What you won’t :

- CBU Pricing (High import duties) for the car and spares
- Boxy looks and bug-eyed front end
- Rear passengers have the space of a C segment sedan
- Compromised rear visibility due to wide D-pillars
- Some glaring omissions (parking sensors, reach-adjust steering, AUX / iPod input for stereo,)
- Nissan's wafer-thin sales & service network

Reported Fuel Efficiency:

- 11.0 (City) / 13.6 (Highway)

Take a look at the key points of the X-Trail in our 4 minute video review :
(click here for a larger video)

Last edited by Rehaan : 1st November 2011 at 16:53. Reason: Adding FE numbers from ownership review section + link
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Old 19th October 2009, 11:32   #2
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Default Exterior

Nissan recently launched their 2nd generation X-Trail in India (Link (Report and Pics: Nissan India launch New Teana and XTrail in Mumbai)). Nissan took the safer route and styled the car to look strikingly similar to the old X-Trail, but this is an entirely new platform - not merely a face-lift. The X-Trail is now kitted with a 2.0L common-rail diesel engine (previous gen had a 2.2L), and it puts out 6 NM more torque and 13 BHP more power than its predecessor. Larger, more pronounced bi-xenon headlamps, a huge sun-roof and slightly bigger dimensions are the key exterior changes on this new model. By no stretch of imagination will this SUV be winning any beauty pageants though; the boxy styling and bug-eyed lamps take a bit of getting used to.

Sharing the same platform as the Nissan Qashqai, this is no body-on-frame SUV. As you might have guessed, the X-trail wears a monocoque construction under its skin. The X-Trail is imported as a CBU (Completely Built Up unit) directly from Japan and is therefore subject to high import duties, making pricing its single largest flaw. Nissan would do well to assemble the X-Trail here. Note that CBUs follow the same lifetime tax rate, whether registered to an individual or company. The top-end X-Trail is sold with a sunroof, bi-Xenon headlamps, climate control + rear aircon vents, in-Dash CD changer with 6-speakers, leather seats, massive sunroof, electric adjustment for front seats, Side & Curtain airbags, ESP (ABS + EBD + BA are standard on all variants) and an intelligent 4x4 system.

Ex-showroom Delhi prices of first AWD / 4x4 variants:

- Nissan X-Trail : Rs. 20,81,000 (Starting LE variant. 6 speed manual. AWD)
- Chevrolet Captiva : Rs. 19,17,000 (AWD. Only Automatic. 1.7 lakh cheaper 4x2 manual available)
- Honda CR-V : 22,87,000 (petrol version. 1.5 lakh rupee cheaper 4x2 available)
- Hyundai Tucson : Rs. 16,27,000 (AWD diesel. Only one variant available)

Boxy styling that's neither masculine nor minimalist. Awkward at first, but will probably grow on you:

The very distinctive Bi-Xenon headlamp cluster. Low and high beams are Xenons. The round halogen closest to the grill is the pilot light:

Black wrap around cladding helps prevent panel damage when venturing out into rougher terrain:

Bug-eyed front end and the distinctive Nissan front grill that we don't see too often in India:

Fully chromed door handles, inside and out. We Indians seem to love the premium feel that chrome brings:

215/60/17 Bridgestone Dueler H/Ts on 6 spoke alloy wheels:

Notchy christmas tree lights at the rear. A little out of fashion, don't you think?

H-U-G-E sliding sunroof:

Independent suspension on all 4 corners and 200mm of ground clearance:

An organic size comparison:

And here's a more relevant one. The X-Trail looks longer and taller than the CRV:

The X-Trail is available in 7 colours (Dark Blue, Champagne Gold, Black, Silver, Titanium Grey, Graphite Grey and White). The Teana is available only in 6!

A peek at the Champagne Gold manual transmission we drove:

The headlights have a really wide spread and a fantastic throw into the distance. Fairly bright fog-lights as well. They definitely aren't just a front-end decoration:

Last edited by Dippy : 20th October 2009 at 14:32.
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Old 19th October 2009, 11:33   #3
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Default Interiors

Typical of most CBUs, the interiors are well put together with a good selection of materials, though there is nothing stylish or modern about the design. Its very clearly function over form here. Interior colour combination of black, beige and touches of brushed (mock) aluminium is tasteful. The cabin is well-insulated and keeps out wind noise and a majority of the diesel clatter. The controls are logically located and make ergonomic sense, like most other Japanese cars. Unlike the previous generation X-Trail which wore a center mounted meter console, the dials (speedometer etc.) are now back where they belong; in front of the driver. The display is easy to read and has a Multi-Information Display (MID) in between the large speedometer and tachometer dials. The indicator stalk on the left and the wipers on the right have a solid and chunky feel, and also control the front / rear fog-lights and rear wiper / wash. There's plenty of footwell space and a dead pedal formed into the floor, though drivers with big feet might have the side of their left foot sticking off the dead pedal. The gear shifter falls easily to hand, though on the automatic there was a small amount of rotational play between the handle and the shaft, which was the only loose part we noticed on the entire car. We'll touch upon the specifics of the MT and AT later in the review.

Glass area is generous and the interiors feel airy at all times (even more so with that massive sun / moonroof). The dashboard has a soft-touch feel, though the satin finished black plastics seem to invite grease and scratches. There are a lot of cubby holes and storage spaces, though most are smaller than what you would expect on a car of this size. Perhaps its the Japanese proportions at play? The cooled cup holders are neat, with two for the front as well as rear occupants. Almost every compartment on the interior has little rubber stoppers so they shut with a soft thump and don't ever rattle. The fact that there were absolutely no rattles or squeaks, even on our car that’s been through a couple of thousand rough kilometers in the hands of many enthusiastic auto-journalists, should be proof enough. Both front seats feature electric adjustment on the SLX models, with about 4" of height adjustment on the drivers side - making it work for the shortest and tallest drivers amongst us. The seats are comfortable and well shaped, though after many hours of driving we did wish there was just a little more cushioning on the base of the seats. Even though the X-Trail is a 5-seater, unlike some of its 7-seater competitors (Pajero, Fortuner, Captiva), space for the rear benchers is nothing more than what you would expect from your typical C-segment sedan. Headroom is not great for taller passengers at the back and there's little more than reading lights and AC vents to play with back there. Using some of the vast boot space towards liberating more room for the rear passengers would have helped greatly. Why can't we have slider adjust (back and forth) on the rear bench for when the boot is empty? Why let all that room in the boot go waste? The limited space and luxuries for rear passengers points towards a car tailored for self-drive cultures.

Boot space however is epic, with enough room to move a house. It's fairly modular and configurable too. Starting with just the center seat flipping down to allow longer objects (skis etc) to be stored horizontally, and ending up with several platforms and drawers moved and removed to create even more space. To match its outdoorsy image, Nissan claims that the liners and shelves of the boot can be easily removed and hosed down with water for a good cleaning. For the urban users, a removable tonneau cover is provided, which can keep all your valuables in the boot out of sight from prying eyes.

One area where the X-Trail does shine is in the safety equipment list. The base version has Anti-Lock Braking (ABS), Brake Assist (BA), Electronic Brake-Force Distribution (EBS), front Airbags and all-ventilated disc brakes as standard. The higher variant adds to that - Electronic Stability Program (ESP), Side Airbags and Curtain Airbags, that's a total of 6-airbags on the SLX.

Note: Click any picture to open a larger version in a new window.

The steering is fairly light and makes maneuvering in traffic easy. The horn extends as far as the silver plastic piece, but requires some force. Nothing more than cruise control on the steering, why no integrated audio or MID controls? Lack of telescopic adjustment as well, though it might not be missed too much due to the good ergonomics:

The instrument console all lit up as the key is first turned. The vibrant orange backlight on the LCDs makes them look like an audio system from the late 80s. The console stays brightly illuminated even during the day:

The slightly cluttered MID always shows : Fuel level, Coolant Temp, Outside Temp, Odometer, Time and Gear selection (autobox only).
The second line of the display can cycle through : Distance to Empty, Fuel Efficiency, Avg speed, Time of start, Tripmeter A and Tripmeter B:

Solid stalks exude quality. The rear wiper has two settings (intermittent and on) as well as a dual water spray:

Roomy foot-well, though the dead pedal might be too narrow for wider feet:

Two small storage compartments and very basic controls for everything else:

The climate control has easy to use dials, which beats pressing a button several times to get that desired change in temperature:

Cooled cup / bottle holders. Hot coffee? No problem, there is a little push button to close the cooling vent:

Tissue box is an exact fit into the dash storage bin:

Armrest + storage. Well, it isn't really much of an armrest nor can it store a lot either:

Nicely contoured front seats. Electrical controls only on the SLX:

The driver's seat has manually adjustable lumbar support:

Massive sun-roof. Biggest we've seen yet!

Rear space is nothing to write home about. A sliding rear bench would have been a big plus:

Rear legroom is average, though ingress can be hampered by the B-Pillar even if you have average sized feet:

A nice wide armrest helps avoid elbow turf wars. Also on display are the 3 seat-back pockets of the left seat.

That's the extent of the AC controls for the rear passengers. Small vents limit air-flow:

Rear visibility is compromised by the large D-Pillars, which are more like D-walls!! The area that the rear wiper cleans is even smaller. The evident lack of parking sensors (quite essential on SUVs) makes reversing a chore:

Hugely versatile boot can create a flat floor that is 1.7m long and 1.1m wide. Boot space can go upto 1773 liters with rear bench folded away (animated image):

Last edited by GTO : 19th October 2009 at 16:50. Reason: Animated image in BOLD
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Old 19th October 2009, 11:35   #4
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Default Engine & Driving Impression

Nissan's 2.0L common rail diesel is a gem of an engine. This unit is rated for 148 BHP @ 4000rpm and 320 NM (32.7Kgm) of torque starting @ 2000rpm. Statistics reveal that premium car buyers prefer automatics; that’s exactly why we chose to run an in-depth test of the automatic gearbox. It is more relevant to the premium segment and makes immense sense in Indian cities. Power delivery is linear and smooth, thanks to the diesel's wide torque curve. The auto can do the 0 – 100 in a shade over 12 seconds. Simply put, the acceleration is best in class (better than all of its diesel competitors). The diesel is very revv-happy & the mid-range packs a punch. Overtaking is a breeze as there is plenty of power to pull past anything on the highway. Slight lag is only felt only when you slam the throttle at single digit speeds. Once the XTrail is up to speed, the engine torque and mid-range makes light work of most driving situations.

Engine clatter is fairly noticeable on the outside after a cold start. However, the cabin has excellent NVH insulation and there is nothing more than a soft diesel growl below 2000rpm on the inside. The X-Trail is refined for the most part and takes a gruff note only when nearing the redline. At cruising speeds, engine sound is barely audible. The auto-box is a 6-speed unlike the 5-speeds on the CRV and Captiva. This has a definite advantage since a diesel has a fairly narrow rev-range to work with, so additional gears help the autobox find an ideal gear, without having to shift back and forth. The 6-speed automatic has incredibly smooth shifts. Its obviously comfort oriented and does the job well. This box makes the X-Trail extremely convenient to use. In hundreds of kilometers and various styles of driving, we did not encounter a single jerky shift - even when using the manual shift option or the fairly responsive kick-down.

Being a soft-roader with a monocoque construction, the X-Trail has car-like handling. It has minimal body roll on cornering; in fact there are some sedans that roll more! When on the twisties, the handling is predictable, though not quite in the league of a Honda CRV. If you push it too hard (even in 2wd mode) the SUV will understeer and traction control will kick in. Straightline stability is good with the X-Trail feeling flat at 150 kph (no pitching or wallowing). Its not European steady at that speed, yet its safe and planted enough. The electric assisted steering wheel is light & a breeze to use in the city. Weighs in well on the highway too, just don’t expect feedback at speed. The ride quality is slightly firm, but not to a point of being stiff. Its very compliant within town (much like an Altis for e.g.) and only gets better with speed. Ride quality is much softer (and better) than the recently tested Toyota Fortuner. 200 mm of ground clearance is plenty for Indian roads. The light controls, 5.4 meter turning radius and good visibility make it easy to drive in the city. Fuel efficiency for the automatic is expected to be around 7-10 kmpl in the city and 11-14 kmpl on the highway.

The brakes have superb pedal feel and feedback, allowing you to modulate stopping power right up to the point where the ABS finally kicks in. Brake Assist (BA) and Electronic Brakeforce Distribution (EBD) work well behind the scenes and their job is done with little noticeable interference. The braking is worth a special mention.

On the Manual Transmission:

The manual has a fairly short throw 6-speed gearbox. You need to push the gear lever only an inch & it jumps into gear, as if it were spring loaded. The power delivery of the engine and short rev-range typical of a diesel will have the red-line coming up surprisingly quick in 1st & 2nd. Overall torque spread makes cruising around town in 3rd, and stop-and-go in 2nd, an easy task. The clutch pedal is fairly light and doesn’t take much effort to hold down in stop and go traffic. However, once you begin to release the pedal, the spring back action suddenly increases in force, which pushes your leg back and makes the clutch release a bit sudden. Takes a little getting used to.

Don't get to see too many "Made in Japan" cars on our roads:
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Old 19th October 2009, 11:35   #5
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Default 4x4 System

The 4x4i has three drive modes :

1. Auto (AWD mode) chooses whether the 4x4 needs to be activated or not, depending on driving conditions. By default, it sends most of the available power to the front wheels (2wd), but as soon as it senses slippage or loss of traction, it puts more power to the rear wheels. On some twisty hill sections we felt the auto-mode might have been engaging 4wd and running us a little wide around corners - in comparison to the 2wd mode which had comparatively less understeer.

2. 2wd mode ensures the car is always front wheel drive. This is probably the best setting for everyday driving conditions. Also, fuel conscious drivers would want to take the safer bet and keep the dial on this setting when driving on dry tarmac.

3. 4x4 Lock mode keeps the transmission in 4x4 only. Ideal for sandy and mucky conditions, but not to be used on tarmac. Top speed is limited to 40km/h in this mode.

Button : Hill Descent Control (HDC) : When activated by the shown switch keeps the car in control when descending steep inclines. In 4x4 lock mode it limits the descent speed to 7km/h, and when the provided engine braking isn’t enough, the system pulses the ABS/EBD on each individual wheel to slow the car down, causing an occasional thunking sound at individual wheels.

Hill Start Assist (HSA) : Always on. Prevents the car from rolling backwards if it is on a 10% or greater incline. The feature works well, but you have to come to a complete stop and press the brake in order to activate it. Works in conjunction with the ESP and its multitude of sensors that are continually being monitored.

Its a softroader so there isn’t any low ratio transfer case in the X-Trail.
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Old 19th October 2009, 11:36   #6
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Default Other Points

Other Points:

• Ton of cubby holes and storage spots in the cabin. The front doors are not designed for 1-liter bottles. Door pockets (front and rear doors) are narrow.

• Massive sunroof! When fully open, its almost like driving a convertible. The front & rear passengers çan both can enjoy a view of the sky above.

• 2-stage heated front seats (pointless in India).

• Excellent steering wheel design. Well chiseled. The steering doesn’t have audio or MID controls. The turn indicators are Euro-style (RHS wiper + turn, LHS headlamps).

• Strangely, for a car of this price, the steering does not have reach / telescopic adjustment. Another thing that will be sorely missed is the lack of parking sensors.

• There’s a tip-tronic for when you want to choose the gear manually, though most owners will prefer to let the “D” auto mode do all the work. Since the diesel engine runs out of steam pretty quickly at the top, manual shifts don't really add too much for the enthusiastic driver. The tip-tronic mode will upshift automatically if you don’t (when nearing the redline).

• The OEM 17 inch 6-spoke alloys are nicely styled. 16" 5-spokes on the LE variant.

• Runs primarily in 2WD mode, even if you choose “auto”. Electronically controlled (not hydraulic) AWD system.

• Only the drivers power window has one touch up / down. Surprising for a car of this price tag. Neither does the auto-up driver window back off if you hand is in the way (we tried!).

• The casual observer wont be able to differentiate between the 1st and 2nd gen, even though this is an all-new car. This car is a size bigger than the 1st gen, which was Nissan’s first car in India.

• Don’t even think of being chauffeur-driven in this. The X-Trail is best self-driven.

• Electronics take a little time to adjust to onroad conditions after spending some time offroading (tried in sand).

• Relatively light SUV. Kerb weight between 1618 (base manual) to 1663 kgs (automatic).

• Interior door locks are entirely chrome making it difficult to see if they are locked on not. Also, they don’t auto-lock when you start driving.

• Revv counter is marked till 6000 rpms!

• Even items in the boot are solidly held down and constructed to prevent squeaks and rattles.

• Fuel tank capacity = 65 liters. Realistic 700 – 800 kms highway range.

• Standard warranty covers 24 month / 50,000 km.

Link to Nissan India's X-Trail webpage.
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Old 19th October 2009, 11:37   #7
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Default The Smaller Yet Significant Things

The boxy styling and height adjustable driver's seat make this one of the few cars where you have a clean view of the bonnet. The small bump on the headlights glow at night and give you a point of reference:

Nicely styled pop-up wind deflector for the sunroof:

Electric seats recline all the way. Use the huge sun-roof great for star-gazing?

Rear view mirrors can get knocked the other way without breaking. VERY useful on Indian roads:

The rear seat bases can be folded forward when expanding the boot, or removed entirely:

This Japanese factory clearly builds cars for many global markets:

Rear reading light is very bright and can be set to light up when the door opens:

12V outlet and collapsible bag hook in the boot:

The rails on top of the car can support an add-on roof rack:

Front tow hook attachment stored neatly in a high-density foam storage spot in the boot:

Now attached to the front bumper. There is a tow hook on the rear too:

The soft-touch button (rear hatch) is fairly small and might take a little looking for. Once opened, it is really easy to pull down, though there is no hanging strap to make it less of a reach for the short amongst us:

That is the max the rear window goes down to. Barely more than half:

Removable tonneau cover clips onto the back of the rear bench:

Cheesy orange glow at dusk:

Chunky handbrake. Don't miss the ash tray either:

This and the Teana are only the start of Nissan India’s emergence. They have committed to 8 new launches in the coming 3 – 4 years. (Link (Nissan plans to drive in nine models to India by 2012)):

Rear seats can recline individually, however range is very limited and doesn't quite approach the "comfort angle":

Switching the ESP off on low traction surfaces (when in 4WD Lock mode) has its advantages. Auto-leveling xenons negate the need for manual headlight leveling adjustment:

OEM audio system lacks mids. Bass is tight. 8/10 for sound. In-dash 6-cd changer, yet no iPod integration or Aux input!! 6/10 for features:

Nissan currently (Oct 2009) has 6 dealerships in India. Expanding the network is on the cards:

Cooled dual cup holders in the rear as well. Cooler vent can be clicked shut:

High-quality key isn't going to break anytime soon:

Body-colored touch up paint provided in the glove box. Neat touch:

Thanks to GTO, Dippy and Ported_head for additional points and pictures.
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Old 19th October 2009, 11:49   #8
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Amazing review Rehaan. You seem to have captured all the details of the X-Trail. The best pic of the lot is the animated one showing the boot space.
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Old 19th October 2009, 11:51   #9
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wow! an extremely well written review, made me learn a few new things about the x-trail which i never realised, anyways one point which stuck me was, did you guys feel that the car was under tyred during the test? and what about the dash board plastics? say when compared to a 3 series or a c-class?
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Old 19th October 2009, 12:07   #10
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Fantastic review Rehaan. You have covered every detail to the point.

What I liked:

The XTrail is really a nice car to drive. The height adjustable driver's seat is great for short drivers like me. The auto box is fantastic and easily one of the best I have driven so far. Not the slightest jerk while shifting. It goes through the gears like a knife would through butter. I found the engine to be very smooth while driving. However when you move off the line slowly in traffic you do feel the diesel clatter in the lower rpms. The cabin is well insulated though. Braking on the X Trail is fantastic and confidence inspiring. Amazing sunroof opens all the way. Lots of storage spaces, cup holders etc but the boot is something else. I havent seen so much flexibility yet in any other SUV sold here. You can just keep playing with different combinations.

What I didnt like:

Its not the best looker out there. Quite boxy if you ask me. I'm not too fond of orange so the I felt the dash display, the audio buttons to be a bit flashy for my liking. Parking sensors on a car this size are sorely missed as mentioned by Rehaan. Though the car is well built all around, I personally found the power window switches a bit cheap and definately not something you would want on a car costing close to 30 lakh rupees. I also didnt like the fact that the rear windows go down just half way.

Last edited by Dippy : 19th October 2009 at 16:11.
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Old 19th October 2009, 12:07   #11
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rehaan!thats an excellent review,definitely will help the bhpians planning to buy an xtrail.
personally speaking i never liked the x trail because of it noisy crdi engine.
one thing i liked now is the placement of the speedometer assembly,placed in the drivers side.
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Old 19th October 2009, 12:10   #12
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That is one exhaustive and amazing review,better than any review i have read in a car mag.Thanks a lot rehaan.Also beautiful animation of the boot and the listing of small features.
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Old 19th October 2009, 12:11   #13
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Fantastic review, Rehan! Looks like you haven't left any feature out.

I liked the animated pic----wonder how you created it??

I also liked your point regarding the wide armrest at the rear to 'avoid elbow-turf wars'

The interior seems to have improved a lot compared to the older model, but when it comes to the exterior, I personally prefer the headlights of the older one---I have 2 in my apartment complex.
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Old 19th October 2009, 12:13   #14
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An amazing and very comprehensive review rehaan.

I always believe Nissan needs to work out on their pricing to get their cars to masses. Somehow i have a gut feeling that it will be done, but when is questionable ??
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Old 19th October 2009, 12:14   #15
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Excellent review Rehaan. Very detailed. Some how the interiors dont look as if they come from a 20+lac car. They look a little cheap. It surprises me that there is no Aux input for the stereo or parking sensors in a car of this segment. Probably, because the X-Trail is not regarded as a high-end car in Japan, but it becomes high-end (incase of price) till it lands in India through CBU.
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