Joining the Middle Eastern SUV lineup is no mean feat. Possibly the most discerning 4x4 buyers in the world, you have to fulfil some pretty stringent criteria to make a splash. In a series of countries where these cars rise above possessions of common necessity to a combination of status symbols and members of the family, though are still regularly put through their paces in the dunes, you’ll not find many a cannier off-road customer than those kicking the tyres in showrooms out here. Nissan’s 2021 addition to the market is the X-Terra. Not to be confused with the discontinued American Xterra, this model boasts a hyphen in its name, so you know it’s serious. And you can tell that with equipment you receive including a four-wheel drive system, a four-wheel lock, brake limited slip differential and electronic locking rear differential. Now, you may not know what any of those terms mean, but even a layperson can tell they spell ‘outdoor enthusiast.’ Let’s see how we got on.
We weren’t sure what to make of the car’s styling at first. Is it good looking? Even on reflection we’re not completely decided, however, it’s safe to say the appearance does grow on you. It’s perhaps not as imposing as some of its contemporaries, adorned with multiple rounded edges as it is, but there is a certain ruggedness to the protective plates peeking out under the front and rear bumpers, the V-motion grille and not unsubstantial dimensions (4.9m in length, 1.9m in height and just over 2.1m in width). Maybe we would have enjoyed bigger wheels to fill those arches, although that would have affected the excellent suspension, so perhaps not. Either way we began to feel a definite attraction as the week wore on largely as a result of the well-appointed interior.
Tell us about that, then
Our version had a leather trim, which offset the bright and spacious cabin a treat. Designers have made the most of the car’s size by seemingly installing as much glass as possible, creating a wonderful open sensation. Where we were truly impressed was with the tech, specifically the central control screen. Too often these fiddly annoyances are switched off in favour of a podcast played through the phone, but this nine-inch (Platinum model) intuitive touch-screen complemented by actual dials for audio and ventilation functions was clear and easy to use. The Intelligent Rearview Mirror, where a camera system beams an uninterrupted view of behind the vehicle when reversing, was also a bonus when the machine was laden with stragglers and stuff. And if said stowaways kicked up any sort of fuss an optional 11-inch flip down monitor has the potential to turn road trips into cinema visits with HDMI connectivity to mirror your device.
How does it drive?
A 2.5-litre, four-cylinder engine with a seven-speed automatic transmission powers the X-Terra, producing 165hp and 241Nm of torque. Highway meandering was therefore a doddle if in no way exciting. We wouldn’t bother wasting the ink telling you the 0-100kmh time, but that’s not why you buy these automobiles is it? You purchase them in the belief you’re going to skip across the sand and make camp in the wilderness every Friday. Well, Bear Grylls, for this pursuit you’re in luck. A 243mm ground clearance and gadgets such as Hill Start Assist and Hill Descent Control mean you can frolic to your heart’s content in this and for less money than a lot of the other makes in a similar class. Equipped with a versatile ladder-frame chassis, reinforced to give it greater rigidity, you’re also treated to a five-link coil spring rear suspension system and rigid rear-wheel axle, ensuring that durability does not come at the expense of comfort. All you need now is a few new sleeping bags and you’ll be away.
• What: Nissan X-Terra
• Engine: 2.5-litre
• Power: 165hp
• Price: From Dh99,905 ($27,200)