We were proven wrong in a spectacular display of off-road prowess by the X-Trail. As you know, the Nissan has an electronically controlled automatic four-wheel drive system which lets you choose between 2WD or Auto 4WD mode. In the Auto mode, the sensors automatically detect the need for traction and distribute torque to the correct wheels at the right time. But we chose to run the X-Trail in the Lock mode which provides a pre-set torque distribution ratio of 57:43 and there was nothing in our track that could challenge this wisdom. Sure enough, it does feel more delicate than the Endeavour, but in the same breath it feels much more capable than the Tucson. That meant we exercised a bit of caution when it came to the roughest parts of the track – still the X-Trail emerged quickest for six out of seven drivers, and while at it, posted the best time of Slush Fest 2005. Read on to find out how the 1:14:81 timing was set by our winner.
Despite front wheels digging in with more traction, the X-Trail started off the spirited runs by wagging its tail in gravel. Yet it felt more fun than dangerous and all that was required was a dab of opposite lock to get things back in order. The four discs of the X-Trail with ABS and EBD proved to be the best amongst the three, and that meant shedding speed for the fastest corner of the track could be done much later. Before we forget, the X-Trail was the only one to touch 110 kph in third gear in the gravel straight. The X-Trail had just about enough ground clearance for our circuit and that meant no scrapes through the dreaded dips. The Nissan entered the slush in third gear carrying a good amount of speed and all that was required was a shift to second for it to plough through the most challenging part of the circuit. We were concerned about boulders towards the end of the circuit, but the X-Trail transformed itself to a mountain goat and powered through to the finish.
Slush Fest verdict
The Nissan X-Trail is the most expensive machine here, but the Slush Fest proved why it commands
a premium over the rest of the city-slick SUV pack. It is extremely well-built and has brilliant off-road manners which compliment its on-road dynamics. It never failed to amaze us and is a worthy winner indeed.
The slush fest pet
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What you see in the pictures is our top-secret Slush Fest arena. Now that a few journos have moved from BSM over the years, it is no longer that top-secret. Still. We do have visions of our pet Slush Fest becoming an annual ritual for four-wheel drive enthusiasts in the country, but that is another story. The Performance Evaluation Test track for the 2005 edition was similar to the one we laid out in 2003 when we pitted the Chevrolet Forester, Suzuki Grand Vitara and the Mitsubishi Pajero 2.8 together, but a bit longer. The cars started with a half km run through gravel with a water hole making things interesting, followed by a sloped-out left hander. One had to be cautious here, since all the braking and speed corrections needed to be done before entering the corner to avoid getting into a nasty roll. A dip that tested the entry and exit angles of the SUVs was followed by another with a ‘zero’ spot to keep speed through this section under control. Then it was flat out to the slushiest part of the track (it was worse two years back) where the four-wheel drive powertrains were subjected to the ultimate litmus test. The climb back to the finish line was acute and the boulder strewn track meant more steering corrections than what normal commuters would attempt in a full year. The cars did catch the air to the relief of our photographer and then they gunned to a flying finish.