At my workplace I've got a permanent basement carpark.
I chose the particular parking space because it slots my road test vehicles into a little alcove that protects them from fellow car-parkers.
NISSAN X-TRAIL TI
POWER PLANT: 2.5-litre four cylinder petrol engine, 125 kW at 6000 rpm, 226 Nm at 4400 rpm.
RUNNING GEAR: All-wheel drive. Continuously variable automatic transmission with six-speed manual over-ride. MacPherson strut front suspension, parallel multi-link set- up at the rear.
HOW BIG: Length 4635mm, width 1790mm, height 1700mm, wheelbase 2630mm.
HOW MUCH: $49,990.
WHAT'S GOOD: Easy to drive, plenty of interior load space, love the Around View.
WHAT'S NOT: Dated looks.
OUR VERDICT: No problems parking this Nissan - and that's a real benefit.
All this means that usually this reversing manouevre is done slowly and carefully, with me using the wing mirrors to keep a close watch on proceedings.
But recently I got to drive a vehicle that made the task just so much easier.
It's the top model of the Nissan X-Trail range of SUVs, the 2.5-litre Ti, and it has what is known as Around View.
This system uses wide-angle cameras located at the front, on each side mirror and at the the rear to give the driver a virtual 360-degree bird's eye view of all four sides of the vehicle when reverse has been selected.
It really works well, and it combines with a reversing camera that displays lines to help guide you past obstacles such as columns and other vehicles. I've never been a particularly good backer - primarily because I'm usually too lazy to turn around to look out the back window - so I loved the ability use a colour monitor on the dash area to accurately reverse this vehicle.
Around View allows you to change camera view for other manoeuvres too, such as parallel parking.
And, when the vehicle is moving forward, the dashboard monitor turns into the screen for the X-Trail's standard satellite navigation system.
It's fascinating that all this is in a vehicle that retails for $49,990, and it helps keep the X-Trail appealing and relevant despite the fact it has been around for some years now and is starting to look quite dated.
The drive doesn't feel dated though.
The last X-Trail I drove was a front-driven 2.0-litre model that Nissan New Zealand introduced as a wagon, but this Ti model is a true SUV in that it features all-wheel drive and is powered by a 2.5-litre engine which gives it nice performance.
The engine is mated to a continuously variable automatic transmission that features a six-speed manual mode, and the AWD system can be adjusted to operate just as front-wheel drive or fully locked up for more serious offroad operation.
The Ti also has aids such as hill-start assist and an advanced hill descent control, and ground clearance is a quite high 212mm, so this vehicle is quite capable of taking on the tough stuff - which is something that sometimes can't be said of the opposition.
X-Trail has plenty of load capability. When all seats are in use, it has an impressive 603 litres of cargo space; when the rear seats are folded down, this increases to an enormous 1773 litres.
Not only that, but the load area features a double luggage floor that hides a sliding storage drawer underneath. it really is a very good amount of load space, with the only hassle being that the floor is made of a very slippery plasticky material that has luggage sliding around all over the place if it isn't properly secured in place.
I don't know how much longer this model X-Trail will remain on the market - not too long I hope, because it really is starting to look dated - but the good news is that features such as Around View do help give the vehicle real appeal.
- Taranaki Daily News