Adventure Weekend - Gently down the stream
Words GG van Rooyen, Pics Jannie Herbst
First released more than a decade ago, the Nissan X-Trail remains one of the most popular compact SUVs around. We recently took the vehicle on a trip to Parys to find out why it is such a dominant player in its segment
If you live in Gauteng, the town of Parys is a great weekend destination. From Johannesburg, it won’t take you much more than an hour to get there, so you can easily leave early on a Saturday morning and spend two glorious days away from the hustle bustle of the big city.
Like Clarens and Dullstroom, Parys is a vibrant town with an arty vibe. It has loads of cafés and restaurants, as well as some lovely curio and antique shops.
But that is by no means all it offers. Parys is also an excellent destination if you are interested in adventure activities, especially those involving fast-flowing white water. Parys is right on the Vaal River, you see, so it is a great place to use as a base if you want to go river rafting, canoeing or kayaking.
We decided to give kayaking a try, and headed for Parys on a wonderfully (and unseasonably) warm and sunny winter’s day. Our steed for the expedition? The Nissan X-Trail.
Living the X-life
Over the years, the X-Trail has developed a steady following among adventure seekers such as mountain bikers, kayakers and hikers. Nissan’s compact SUV is a very practical option. Firstly, it has a lot of space. Don’t let its designation as a “compact SUV” fool you – the X-Trail can swallow a lot of kit. In fact, with the second row of seating down, it can quite easily accommodate a mountain bike. Total loading space is around 1773 litres, and there are all sorts of handy storage bins that make it easier to transport your adventure gear.
A second reason the X-Trail’s popularity has endured is that it is a proper 4x4. Okay, it’s not going to tackle grade-five obstacles, but it can deal with the roads that adventure seekers often need to traverse.
It boasts a respectable ground clearance of 203mm, hill descent control and hill start assist systems, and the intelligent All-Mode 4x4-i four-wheel-drive system allows you to choose between 2WD, automatic 4WD or locked 4WD.
For the most part, you can simply slip the system into “auto” mode and allow the vehicle to switch between 2WD and 4WD as it deems necessary, but it is nice to know that you can lock it in either two-wheel or fourwheel drive when you want to.
The third reason for its popularity is that it off ers great value for money. Admittedly, the vehicle we used was at the pricier end of the spectrum (R475 000), but it did offer lots of value for the price, including Bluetooth connectivity, cruise control, sunroof, climate control and rear-view camera.
The most affordable model in the range, however, is the 4x2 two-litre petrol version, which retails at R324 500. The entry-level diesel model is the two-litre 4x2 XE, which goes for R349 500. Overall, the X-Trail range is well priced and undoubtedly gives you a lot of car for your money.
If you’re looking for an oilburner, there is only one option when purchasing an X-Trail. Thankfully it is a decent engine that doesn’t disappoint. It has a capacity of 1995cc and provides a healthy dollop of oomph. Peak power of 110 kW is reached at around 4000 r/min, and peak torque of 320 Nm is available at 2000 r/min.
The X-Trail accelerates impressively on the open road. It certainly has no trouble cruising at 120 km/h, and overtakes with ease. Top speed is pegged at around 180 km/h.
While the entry-level XE model has a six-speed manual shifter, the SE and LE models have six-speed auto gearboxes. These manage to swap cogs effectively, and make long-distance travel an easy and relaxed experience.
If you’re travelling as a passenger, the X-Trail is also a nice place to be. Rear accommodation is spacious, NVH (noise, vibration and harshness) levels are low, and there is a good sound system.
Cruising in comfort
Nissan appears to have ascribed to the “don’t fix it if it’s not broken” school of thought when it comes to the X-Trail. The SUV has been around since the early 2000s, and has remained largely the same since then. The reason is simple: it’s a package that works. The X-Trail is versatile, practical, economical and fun to drive. If you’re looking for a vehicle that can transport you effortlessly to your various adventure destinations, you won’t be disappointed by Nissan’s popular SUV.
Like mountain biking and trail running, kayaking has grown in popularity over the last few years, so you’ll find no shortage of local companies offering kayaking trips. These can range from simple introductory trips that last a couple of hours to long river journeys over several days.
In SA we’re lucky, since we have the sort of weather that allows adventurers to enjoy water sports such as river rafting and kayaking every month of the year. Of course, rivers don’t flow as strongly during the drier months, but this is often the best time to give it a try if you’re a bit hesitant, since the water won’t be as intimidating.
If you are based in Johannesburg, Parys is a good place to give kayaking a try. White Water Training, a kayak school and guide training centre, has been operating since 1996, and offers beginners’ courses for those interested in getting into kayaking. And once you get the hang of it, White Water Training also organises multi-day trips on some of Africa’s greatest rivers, including the Orange, Zambezi and even the Nile.
For more information, visit www.whitewatertraining.co.za. You can also phone 056 811 2597.
NISSAN X-TRAIL 2.0 dCi 4x4 AT
Engine: Four-cylinder, common rail, turbocharged
Power: 110 kW @ 4000 r/min
Torque: 320 Nm @ 2000 r/min
Transmission: Six-speed automatic
4x4 system: All-Mode 4x4-i
Fuel consumption: 7,4 l/100km (claimed)
Fuel tank size: 65 litres
Luggage space: 1773 litres (seats folded)
Ground clearance: 203mm
Towing capacity: 1350kg (braked)
Tyre size: 225/55 R18
Service plan: Three-year/90 000km
Warranty: Three-year/100 000km
Price: R475 000
Source: Leisure Wheels