Nissan’s range of vehicles includes a few contenders in the hard-fought crossover category, namely the Juke, Qashqai and X-Trail. Each of these cars is special in it’s own way, and I was lucky enough to be able to sample all three cars on one day when I attended the Nissan Technology event on behalf of my good mates at SA Car Fan.
The Jo’burg-based event was set up to show off the different technology that the different Nissan crossovers offer to the local motoring media during a presentation and in real world situations. Nissan SA grouped its leading technologies into three main categories under the banners of Safety, Driving Aids and In-car Entertainment. These systems are great and each one offers up something different for Nissan owners. It was one thing seeing the facts and figures during the presentation, but actually being able to test the things first-hand made it a truly great day at the office. After all, motoring journos do much better when things are shown to them.
Under the Safety banner, the Juke, Qashqai and X-Trail share some great technology to make sure they’re as safe as possible on the road. The models have a host of shared features as you’d expect from a manufacturer withy multiple platforms, these include like Vehicle Dynamic Stability Control (VDS), Anti-lock Brakes (ABS), Electronic Brake Force Distribution (EBD) and Brake Assist (BA), along with six or seven airbags depending on the model or options. There are also Driving Assistance features including Around View Monitor, Blind Spot Warning and a Lane Departure Warning system. These systems make use of an array of cameras fitted to the car’s nose, tailgate and side mirrors that stitch together a panoramic bird’s eye view of the immediate surroundings for the driver to see on a high resolution, glare-free, 7-inch touch screen display (5.8-inches on Juke)
Around View Monitor System
Blind Spot Warning System
Lane Departure Warning System
Both Juke and X-Trail offer a system called MOD - Moving Object Detection. MOD is like an electronic guardian angel that monitors the vehicle’s immediate surrounds whilst maneuvering and warns the driver if an object of any kind comes into the car’s moving space. This feature can not only save paintwork and insurance costs from minor dings and dents, but lives too. Toddlers have no brakes and don’t see a problem running behind a few tons of moving steel, this system lets you know they’re there. These features can be controlled from the touch-screen display and they seamlessly integrate with the dynamic and passive safety systems to create a self-managing system - the Nissan Safety Shield. This system has helped ensured the Nissan crossovers continually receive the highest N-Cap safety ratings possible.
Moving Object Detection
Under the Driving Aids banner are next we find a host of features that have been designed to make driving a pleasurable and safe experience. The Qashqai and X-Trail models feature systems like Chassis Control (all models), Active Trace Control, Active Engine Braking (on the automatic models) and Active Ride Control - all managed from the cockpit, displayed on the Advanced Drive-Assist Display. So the systems have fancy names – but what exactly do they mean? I’m glad you asked…
This is controlled from the cockpit and is displayed on the Advanced Drive-Assist Display (ADAD). These technologies can be divided up into seperate categories that include Active Trace Control, Active Engine Braking (for the automatic automatic models) and Active Ride Control. Chassis control is available on all Qashqai and X-Trail models.
Active Trace Control
Makes use of the chassis control technology to mimic the work of a front-mounted limited slip differential. Working closely with the ECU it manages engine power and utilises ABS to brake individual wheels. This makes for precise steering inputs no matter the road surface or weather conditions.
Active Ride Control
ARC manages the vehicle’s upper body motion with the use of the ABS system. On rutted roads it will subtly applying brakes to stabilise the vehicle. In the X-Trail and Qashqai fitted with All Mode 4x4-I, ARC supports the transfer of power to two or four wheels and distributes power based on speed, road conditions, wheel slip and driver input.
All Mode 4x4-i
Here you have the option of selecting 2WD, Auto, or 4WD from the cabin. All Mode 4x4-i can distribute up to 50% of the engine’s power to the rear during both on and off-road driving. The system also includes the Hill Start Assist. Hill Decent Control (HDC) is also part of the X-Trail’s arsenal, but only on the CVT auto model.
The Nissan PURE DRIVE tech in the Juke, Qashqai and X-Trail models make it capable of delivering some of the lowest CO2 emissions in the crossover category. Take the Qashqai 1.5 dCi - it emits just 109g/km of CO2 at regulated test speeds and offers up an average fuel consumption of a mere 4.2-litres/100km. All crossover models also feature the ability to adjust steering feel and vehicle display features (all models) as well as a special enviro-friendly ECO setting on the Qashqai and X-Trail with a range of driving options on the Juke too.
What sets the Nissan Juke crossovers apart from the others on the market is that they have mixed in a dash of sports car to add to its SUV and passenger car features. With is where the Juke’s Nissan Dynamic Control System comes in, managed via the Integrated Control (I-CON). This category-unique system allows the driver to adjust engine characteristics and keep tabs on the stats of their driving performance. There’s a choice of Normal, Sport or Eco Driving, each of which adjusts throttle response, boost pressure, torque and air-conditioner usage (when a hill is encountered that requires more engine power, the aircon will automatically switch off until the power isn’t needed anymore). Another cool thing in the Juke is the way it also has vehicle diagnostics that allow the driver to measure and store all types of driving inputs like cornering, acceleration G-force, mileage and fuel economy. These cars really are like games consoles, the PlayStation generation will definitely have a soft sport for them.
Then there’s the in-car entertainment, the upgraded Nissan Juke, new Qashqai and X-Trail now feature the NissanConnect system. The system allows access and control of some apps on your smart phone (Facebook check-in on arrival at your destination). These apps, along with music and other phone functions can be directly controlled from the touch-screen display. You can also plug in your favourite USB, iPod or MP3 player to the USB port for music on the go.
The event afforded us the chance to test these tech features in real world situations. We teamed up in pairs and got to drive each car in different disciplines. My team started off with the X-Trails, we were shown how the All Mode 4x4i system works to pull the car up a steep incline as well as over axle twisters. It definitely does its job but the hill task we had to complete wasn’t really suited to the car. Crawling up the hill was a bit hard for the small capacity diesel to manage and it required a good dose of slipping clutch to get where we needed to be. A don’t think this is a reflection of the car though, just an unsuited task. If we were to do the same hill at a normal off-road speed it would have been much better. I think the CVT autos had a better run here. Also, the manual doesn’t have hill descent control so it was more up to the driver to do the task successfully. The system is best demonstrated on the cross axle section, in 2WD mode the car gets to a point where it’s got zero traction, but with the Auto mode on it will adjust the power to the wheels with the most traction enabling it to climb the obstacle.
We swapped over to the Qashqais so we could see how useful the surround cameras are. We navigated a set course while blindfolded to show how hard it really is when you don’t see everything you need to. We then navigated the same course in a car with the windows covered but with the camera function enabled. It’s of course way better. It would take a little time to get used to it, but it definitely proved its worth.
The last session was in the Jukes, here we had to drive from Fourways-ish through to Pretoria and back with the object being to use as little fuel as possible. Our particular car was 4-up with the medical equipment and two packed photography bags, a clear disadvantage over the other team, yet we still managed to get the fuel consumption to a nice and low 5.3-litres/100km. Rather impressive.
The Nissan tech in the crossover range is clearly something you should definitely be looking for in a car. Until competitors can match this kind of tech Nissan’s crossovers may just be the more favourable option for those wanted a new crossover. As mentioned, a great day at the office, but it was even better for me than for some others. Together with my team mate Justin Jacobs, we did well enough on the challenges to be awarded some prizes – I‘m now the proud owner of an Apple TV and some Google Cardboard goggles. A huge thanks goes out to Veralda Schmidt and the Nissan SA crew for a great event, you guys rock!