Long term Hire Car: Nissan X-Trail
Here is a review on what is normally considered road furniture yet we appreciate a review of a hire car at TestaVeloce as they are machines that normally we would not choose to drive and therefore our opinions are useful and who knows it may even change some preconceptions. Normally hire car reviews are restricted to 140 characters to reflect the short amount of time the hire cars are in our custody but this X-trail was in our possession for a month, we were able to get under the skin of it, just a little.
It is blazing hot at the airport, no sleep on the eleven hour flight and now standing at the usual hell that is the car rental desk, not even if we were presented with a Pagani would we be able to break a smile. After the usual pen pushing and handout of the unknown extra cost, our bags were loaded into the car. This is the first positive, loads of space. After the Land Rover Freelander II around Europe, packing a car full of cases is not to be repeated however the cavern of the X Trail coped with the six bags and pushchair very well. Usual issues with driving a manual after months in an automatic sees the passengers jolting forwards and a few stalls but it is soon second nature and once found, the high bight point on this light clutch is very user friendly. Six speed gearbox is short geared which means you are constantly mixing the cake with your left hand. Also to note are the great brakes, instant bite and precise progression. Cars like this are made for people who see driving as a means of transport, something to use to get them form A to B. Not an art form.
Looking for the XTrail's golden ticket, other than its load capacity is a tough job. Its super dull in most areas. The dreary cabin is the dark icing on a dull cake. Scrolling through the menu settings, searching desperately for some trick function we find something called Chassis Control. Here it is, this is more like it. From the company that brought us the ultra robot GTR, this has to be the electrickery that we are looking for. But what is it? Looking up on the Internet exactly what this brings no clear conclusion as to its purpose or benefit. Nissan make it sound as though it will help the car drive through bends and over bumpy surfaces yet you would have to be in desperate trouble to need it when in an XTrail on the way to the shops. If you did need it then I suggest the bus as a cheaper and safer alternative. Maybe we needed to test the system in a controlled environment but on the odd occasion the dash lit up telling me this system was functioning, I could not tell what it was doing. Unable to make it work every time it was never clear what benefit it bestowed on my experience. I found driving normally to be enough.
Overall a fair steed for a family hire, big boot, drab performance and totally uninspiring interior it was soon covered in sand and crumbs. It did receive a guilty hoover before being returned (see the awesome hoover stripes) however and that was the month over. Will not miss it. Onto the next one, a Mitsubishi ASX. How different can that be ? Find out soon..
Nissan X Trail:
Comfy enough, un-engaging transport method. Does the job with lots of luggage.