Little Adventures

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Saturday, August 19, 2006

Our Nissan X-Trail - Ageing Gracefully

I've had this Nissan X-Trail for more than three years now and it is still nearly as good as it was the day I collected it from the showroom. I said nearly because, c'mon, an old car is an old car.
Since I bought it more than 3 years ago, the car has suffered some scratches and small dents. It's a shame but I guess, in Doha, it is impossible to keep your car spotless. A lot of the people here, locals and expatriates alike, just don't care about other people's property. They open their own car doors carelessly and don't care if it hits the car parked next to theirs. There's just nothing you can do about it. Even if you parked at a safe distance from the other cars, you'll never know how close another car will park next to you.
The X-Trail was not my first choice, actually, when I went looking for a new car that time. I've just accepted a job offer here in Qatar and figured out that with the salary package I am being offered, I could afford to buy a small 4x4 SUV. My search for a new car actually started in Brunei, a few weeks before I left. I thought then that cars couldn’t be that much differently priced and configured from place to place. So just to have an idea, I looked around in Brunei. I looked at Toyota RAV-4, Honda CRV and Renault's Scenic RX4. I didn't even bothered to checkout the X-Trail simply because its boxy looks did not appeal to me.
The Toyota RAV-4 was my first choice because we had one as a project vehicle in Brunei. I'm quite impressed with it and thought it was just suitable for my wife and me. But I did not expect that Toyotas in Qatar, any model, cost considerably more than other cars in their respective ranges. A Toyota RAV-4 was just a little cheaper than a fully loaded, V6 engine, bigger and better Ford Explorer. If I could afford it then, I would have gone for the Explorer. But a 4-cylinder engine car was all I could afford then.
I looked at the Jeep Liberty (Cherokee in this part of the world) but they only had V6 models available. It's the same thing with the Ford Escape. I think the CRV is too common and Mitsubishi's Outlander looks very gimmicky yet cheap. Then I noticed the popularity here of Nissan's Maxima, Patrol and Pathfinder models. The X-trail was a relatively new model here. Introduced to the Qatari market to replace the ageing Terrano. I thought that it might not be such a bad car at all. So I visited the showroom to have a look.
What they have on display was a silver colored fully loaded model (exactly the same car I bought). Its external looks started to grow on me. For a small car, it looks pretty big. The straight lines and boxy looks that I once thought as dated now looks rugged and very masculine to me. I went on to open the door. I liked my grip on the chunky chrome finished door handle - not one of those flimsy door flaps. As I stepped in and sat on the driver's seat, I immediately liked the well-appointed interiors. I know, it's still mostly plastic but the dash is really well made and did not felt cheap at all.
But its best quality is the price. It's about 10,000 riyals cheaper than the base model RAV-4. I said to myself, this is the car I'm gonna get.
After more than 3 years now and I still love every bit of this car. It's not perfect but I have never had any complaint major enough to think about getting rid of it urgently.
With the next generation RAV-4 already out plus new models coming from the Korean manufacturers, the X-Trail is already showing a little bit of its age. Inevitably, time will come for me to replace this car soon and I've been contemplating on what to replace it with. The new RAV-4 is bigger but more expensive and looks ugly to me; Honda has not released a new CRV, I'm not at all impressed with the Outlander, the Jeep is expensive to maintain and I have heard of Ford's reliability issues. The Korean brands? I don't like any of them at all.
For now, it looks like it's going to be another X-trail for me.
The photos featured here were originally posted in my flickr photostream. Please click on the photos to go to their respective links. Thank you.


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