So my first interaction with the
monster car almost had me in tears. Why, you wonder in confusion? Well, until now, I’d never driven an automatic before.
“But it’s so easy”, you want to scream? Yeah, sure... it’s child’s play – after you realise that you only need to use your one, right foot.
*I initially braked with my clutch foot, applied too much pressure and, well, almost ended up in a neck brace!
So… I discovered. And I learned. And I enjoyed. And now I wish I could trade-in my
stupid not-so-easy manual.
Comfortable and safe – that’s how I felt in this oversized family car. Sans a labour-intensive gearbox or clutch pedal means the drive is pretty basic, even relaxing, if I compare it to my jalopie of a ride.
Feature-wise, it’s got just about everything:
Built-in ‘luxuries’ include an audio system, sat nav, a full-colour display reversing camera (my favourite ‘extra’) conveniently situated on the rearview mirror, Bluetooth connectivity, cruise control, airbags in every nook and cranny, a panoramic sunroof (had fun with this!), electronically adjustable and heated seats, ingenious cup holders –even a sunglasses compartment for crying out loud…
And then there’s all the space. I swear, if given the chance, I would be able to perform back flips and cartwheels, with the doors closed, WITHOUT breaking, bruising or hurting a thing!
Honestly, there are sections, cubicles, drawers, slots and enough boot space to fit in an entire army. And then some. And, if that’s not enough, then fold away the back seats and invite Noah’s Ark for a joy ride.
Look and feel?
The Xtrail’s got the whole SUV thing going alright, but, as a good friend of mine Devin pointed out: “What’s with the ugly interior trimmings? Plastic ‘silver’, really? Makes the car look cheap!”
Did the size scare me?
Not a chance. Parking was chips and because of the awesome reversing camera, I particularly reveled at every chance I got to perform (yes, it was quite theatrical!) a PERFECT parallel.
*My former driving instructor of way back when – bless his soul – would’ve been so proud if he’d seen me ‘work’ this beast in between tight and narrow spots.
And how does it handle the long road?
Hm, yeah, that… Well, I took it up the mountain, drove along a dirt road and ag nee man, the Xtrail’s not a real 4x4 - nothing like the ones that you see on TV. It doesn’t do the bumps any justice and, well, I think it’s too luxurious, quite frankly, for an off-road type of drive.
But that’s just me. Lance… What’s your take?
Lance Branquino of Wheels24 says:
The XTrail is South Africa’s best selling compact SUV by quite some margin, which says much for its abilities as there are a list of thoroughly accomplished products from competing brands. It is very spacious and has a hard-wearing loadbay area capable of rough-handling – you can chuck camping gear and outdoor equipment in the back without fear of damaging bits of trim. The turbodiesel engine is excellent and although it lacks a low-range transfer case of differential lock, the centre-clutch plate will give you enough traction to see it through mild sand tracks and climb medial inclines without much bother. XTrail’s only real debit is its bizarrely complex sparewheel positioning and assembly, which requires one to practically disassemble a part of the loadbay area to extract the sparewheel, not really ideal when you are stuck next to a lonely right at night...
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