(Update: I mentioned earlier that the X-Trail can brake by itself where speeds are under 30kph should actually be speeds from 5kph to 80kph. It has been corrected in the text.)
As soon as you hit the accelerator, you’ll notice just how weighty the new Nissan X-Trail Hybrid feels. Yet, nothing is showing that the electrified SUV is desperately seeking power. If anything, the electrified X-Trail is livelier than the X-Trail with the larger 2.5-litre engine.
Under the hood, the 2.0-litre engine gives the X-Trail Hybrid motivation, the same engine you’ll find in the base and mid-spec SUVs. It produces 142hp at 6,000rpm and 200Nm at 4,400rpm; a respectable figure. The numbers jump when sparked by the electric motor, topping up an extra 40hp and 160Nm only when the situation calls for it. These situations include hard acceleration and uphill climbs… but you already know that.
The engine is paired with a CVT, which transfers power to the front wheels only. This setup is saving fuel, although it ultimately relies on how gentle you are with the accelerator. Still, Nissan claims the X-Trail Hybrid will do 16.1km per litre of fuel, and that is a distance better than any C-segment SUVs with conventional drivetrains.
Doing its bit for the X-Trail’s economy is a 0.9kWh battery that might sound small but, from initial impressions, does as it is supposed to. It slots itself in nicely underneath the boot floor of the SUV, evicting the two extra seats to make this version the only five-seater X-Trail in Malaysia. Apart from the situation, as mentioned earlier, where the electric motor comes alive, the X-Trail can also drive on pure electricity from the start and up to 30kph. Spending less fuel looking for a parking space is always a good thing.
Out on the highway, the X-Trail gets up to speed fairly quickly and then settles down for a cruise with power coming only from the combustion engine. The electric motor does not come into play here, preferring instead to recharge the battery. At speeds, the SUV traces its lines well and offers stability on long highway bends.
In the backroads, impressions remain good. The 17-inch tyres wrapped around allow wheels, feels grippy and the suspension lets you ease into corners comfortably. However, drive with more spirit and the body rolls with similar levels as the competition.
We’ve been told that the suspension of the X-Trail Hybrid, its geometry and firmness have been tinkered for allowance of the electric motor, the battery and its subsequent components. It’s a firmness that you can feel, but it’s not upsetting even when you run over the usual holes and humps on the road.
The one thing you’ll slowly begin to notice is how quiet the cabin is. Nissan has bolstered the soundproofing. Noises from the wind and road are muffled to such a degree that you can only start to hear them at very high speeds.
Better soundproofing makes the cabin more comfortable than it already is. The rear passengers get plenty of leg and headroom. The Zero-Gravity powered front-seats, wrapped in leather, are incredibly soft and relaxing. The interior gets a bit of a makeover, too. The dashboard and knee pads are covered in leatherette, air vent trims are finished in piano black, and the door panels are embellished patterns inspired by carbon fibre.
To bring the X-Trail into contemporary trends, this SUV now comes with a seven-inch touchscreen infotainment system with voice recognition, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. In front of the driver, the meter cluster features a five-inch Advance Drive Assist Display (ADAD) that displays turn-by-turn navigation.
When it comes to safety, the X-Trail Hybrid can now stand toe-to-toe with the competition. The X-Trail Hybrid can brake by itself (where speeds are under 30kph), follow the traffic in front and come to a dead stop if need be, alert of an approaching vehicle when reversing, monitors the blind spot, warns when you’re straying off the lane and its 360-degree camera now has Intelligent Moving Object Detection.
Getting one into your driveway will set you back by RM159,888, on-the-road, without insurance. Edaran Tan Chong Motor is sweetening the deal by offering gifts with RM488 to the first 500 registered X-Trail. You also have the option to go for the Premium Package for an extra RM3,800, which you will get a DVR, window tinting, door visors, LED kick plates and LED room lamp.
The X-Trail Hybrid is specced well enough to re-enter the fray and give itself a fighting chance. Being the first C-segment SUV to be electrified in Malaysia should give the X-Trail Hybrid has better efficiency than the competition. But is it enough?