2023 Nissan X-Trail e-POWER e-4ORCE Hybrid Review : Big Name, Small Fuel

By Clifford Chow, 24 July 2023

2023 Nissan X-Trail e-POWER e-4ORCE Hybrid Review : Big Name, Small Fuel

SINGAPORE - Remember the original Nissan X-Trail? The blocky suv which looked like it could go anywhere? It looked like a brick, but it was a stroke of genius really, since it had a +2 third row of seats, while remaining compact in-size.

This was a clever formula, as Nissan identified early that there were those who needed to occasionally carry more than five, and did not want to go down the MPV route. 

So the fourth-generation X-Trail retains that same practical seating formula, but that is probably where similarities end. On the outside, its sharper sculpting exudes a sense of sportiness even lacking in the previous car. It feels way less utilitarian, and actually more like a car you’d actually like to own.

2023 Nissan X-Trail e-POWER e-4ORCE Hybrid Singapore - Front right
2023 Nissan X-Trail e-POWER e-4ORCE Hybrid Singapore - Front right

While back in the day, the X-Trail thrived in its own whitespace, as “people-carrying” SUVs were far and between, but it is a different story today, as there simply are more options available. The X-Trail’s closest rival today would be the Honda CRV. But while the X-Trail is a dedicated vehicle, the CRV is the same size for both the 5 and 7-seater versions. That said, both share the same squashy third row, and too little headroom at the rear. Other competition in the same playpen includes the Peugeot 5008, Hyundai Santa Fe Hybrid, the premium-class bread-and-butter version of this Mercedes-AMG GLB 35, and the Skoda Kodiaq, which is beginning to show its age.

The interior feels modern, and I sense, will stay fresh for a good number of years. Seated on the top of the dash, a 12.3-inch NissanConnect infotainment touchscreen, with premium BOSE audio sits proud, has TomTom Navigation built-in; and is paired with wireless Apple CarPlay and wired Android Auto. A charging tray is standard equipment, and is located in-front of the gearshift slider. I appreciate that in a time where manufacturers are increasingly embedding buttons into the infotainment to save on cost, the X-Trail’s dashboard still has a fair scatter of physical buttons.

There is just one variant of the X-Trail available in Singapore, but Tan Chong, Nissan’s dealership here offers the option of amber coloured nappa leather upholstery, which not only visually lifts the interior, but the supple leather surfaces also contribute to more comfort. The option will cost you an additional $3000.

Like in most cars of its type, the X-Trail’s middle row has a good amount of leg space, and when rear legroom is required, can be rolled forward. It is clear that some thought has gone into the rear passenger doors, as they open wide at a 90-degree angle, for easier entry. While all is good in row one and two, the third-row seats are truly designed for occasional usage, so while leg space may be quite limited as expected, headroom will be an issue for any person above 165cm… and then… look out! Hump! 

Unlike the previous car, which required you to wave your hand below the lamps for the licence plate, in order to activate the power tailgate, the X-Trail has a more logical, and in today’s context, a more conventional kick-activated sensor. With the third row folded, the boot is able to carry up-to 485-litres of cargo. Moving things around is easy, since the cargo area is rather flat. Fold the middle row, and you can release up-to 1298-litres. Sadly, due to the placement of the regular 12V battery and the BOSE bass module under the floor, there is no space for a cargo cover in the rear storage, and for that matter, the car also does not even come with one.

2023 Nissan X-Trail e-POWER e-4ORCE Hybrid Singapore - Engine cover
2023 Nissan X-Trail e-POWER e-4ORCE Hybrid Singapore - Engine cover

On first driving impressions, the current car feels worlds-apart from the third-generation one. Nissan ditched conventional propulsion in-favour of their e-POWER series hybrid system; something which we first saw the Kicks, Note and Serena. Curiously though, the British-built Qashqai was not fitted with the said architecture, and instead, its power source is the same one found in the Mercedes-Benz A-Class and Renault Captur; but enhanced with a 12V mild-hybrid system.

Back in the X-Trail, the compact-size SUV boasts a pair of e-4ORCE-controlled electric motors, which drive front and rear axles. However, this is with a bias toward the front, which is a more forgiving arrangement. The forward motor puts out 204hp and 330Nm, while the rear delivers 136hp and 195Nm. The SUV’s system power is rated at 204hp, while maximum torque at 525Nm. Since its drivetrain is in-essence similar to that of an EV’s, the X-Trail delivers smoothness from the very beginning. If you are looking for a close ICE equivalent, in-terms of the said smoothness, it would be almost reminiscent of this Lexus IS 300h.

2023 Nissan X-Trail e-POWER e-4ORCE Hybrid Singapore - Rear door detail
2023 Nissan X-Trail e-POWER e-4ORCE Hybrid Singapore - Rear door detail

The e-4ORCE system contributes to driving refinement, by reducing the extent the X-Trail lurches during acceleration and braking. I especially like that it does not feel violent like how some EVs are, when taking off briskly from the lights. But more impressively, the torque vectoring bolsters your driving confidence, allowing you to steer into a fast corner with surprising ease. Over here, you can just barely feel the e-4ORCE system coaxing speed off the inner wheels, tucking the X-Trail quite easily into its intended cornering line. While I do say this, the steering could use more feel, but that is me just being fussy, since this is not intended to be a driver’s car.

2023 Nissan X-Trail e-POWER e-4ORCE Hybrid Singapore - Right side
2023 Nissan X-Trail e-POWER e-4ORCE Hybrid Singapore - Right side

To keep the SUV’s batteries charged, it relies on a 1.5-litre 3-cylinder turbocharged engine, which acts as a generator, and does not drive the car. Apart from usual moments when the engine turns to keep the battery charged, it also cuts-in under heavy acceleration. Interestingly, I found that the X-Trail’s official combined fuel figures of 14.9km/l, were far from what I managed. On two of my three combined city and highway runs, I did 17.5 km/l, while on my third, the number was down to only 17.4km/l. Pretty impressive stuff if you ask me.

Increasingly like many SUVs in its class, the X-Trail is loaded with a suite of safety driving tech, known as Nissan Intelligent Mobility. It includes features like Intelligent Cruise Control, Emergency Braking with Forward Collision Warning, Rear Cross Traffic Alert and Intelligent Around View Monitor with Moving Object Detection, among others.

The X-Trail’s fuel economy, paired with decently-good handling and its equipment list is a consolation, given the high prices at the pump, and also today’s over-the-top COEs.

PHOTOS & TEXT Clifford Chow

2023 Nissan X-Trail e-POWER e-4ORCE Hybrid

Engine 1,497cc, inline 3, turbocharged
Power (Front Motor) 204hp
Torque (Front Motor) 330Nm
Power (Rear Motor) 136hp
Torque (Rear Motor) 195Nm
Transmission Single Speed Reduction Gear
Fuel Consumption 6.7l/100km

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