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Thursday, December 14, 2017 26° Mostly cloudy

Sensing the world through the car

The Nissan X-Trail's Intelligent Mobility features

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Text and photos by Iñigo S. Roces

To help us survive in the modern world, easily our most indispensable tools are our senses. Our eyes, smell, hearing, and touch allow us to be fully aware of what’s in our environment in order for us to react to them appropriately. These senses help us walk through busy city streets and crowded offices with little trouble.

Shouldn’t it follow that such senses, when equipped in a car, could also make driving easier? Nissan certainly thinks so. To demonstrate just how easy driving can be when armed with these senses — what they call Nissan Intelligent Mobility — the car company gladly put us behind the wheel of the latest vehicle, the 2018 Nissan X-Trail, now equipped with all these smart features.

The X-Trail's Forward Emergency Braking stops it short of the barrier even if the driver does not react. Left, the Around View Monitor paints a clear picture of the vehicle's surroundings.

The X-Trail’s Forward Emergency Braking stops it short of the barrier even if the driver does not react. Left, the Around View Monitor paints a clear picture of the vehicle’s surroundings.

Though already launched some time ago, Nissan has recently updated its X-Trail with a new look, and even more smart technology. This whole smart sensor suite is available in full on the top-of-the-line X-Trail 2.5-liter 4×4.

The activity started as many drives would: by backing out of the driveway. In this scenario, Nissan’s first feature comes into play: the Around View Monitor with moving object detection. This feature provides a 360 degree view of the vehicle, as well as full views in front and behind. In addition, sensors on all four corners check the car’s surrounding for movement. If there is movement, say from a nearby child or animal, It highlights the appropriate part of the car where movement was detected. If a child is behind, it will light up a yellow outline around the rear view. This also works well for other vehicles. Called Rear Cross Traffic Alert, it also highlight the rear if it detects a car in the vicinity —very useful for mall parking lots. The system engages automatically when the car is put in reverse, or can be activated at speeds of 10 km/h or less.nissan_4

Though the view around the vehicle may seem small, the cameras’ wide angle lenses and angles make navigating tight spaces a breeze. Besides highlighting obstacles and moving objects, the monitor also shows guidelines that tell you where your wheels will be. When backing up, these lines adjust as you turn the wheel.

Armed with the system and enclosed in a parking lot, Nissan challenged us to make our way around a little maze using just the Around View Monitor.  The front windshield and side windows were blacked out just for the challenge. We certainly don’t recommend attempting this on your own, but with just Nissan’s Around View Monitor, navigating around tight spaces is certainly possible.

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The next features comes into play at highway speeds. Called Blind Spot Warning Signal, this system constantly scans the cars sides and its blind spots for other vehicles. It lights up a little rectangle on the corner of the windshield, and unlike other systems in other cars, is far less intrusive. It only sounds an alarm when the signal light is turned on to indicate a lane change and it detects a vehicle present. This warns the driver that it is not safe to change lanes.

The last trick up the X-Trail’s sleeve was Nissan’s Forward Collision Warning and Forward Emergency Braking System. Like some other cars now on sale, this system scans the road ahead for other vehicles. If there is a car traveling much slower or one that suddenly brakes, it will sound a warning, light up the instrument cluster, and if the driver still does not react, it will brake the car for you in order to prevent an accident.

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Nissan put it to the test by placing a steel barrier in front of the X-Trail. Traveling at 30 km/h, the vehicle detected the obstacle and stopped by itself, leaving about of foot of clearance between itself and the barrier. Naturally, the system cannot prevent all accidents, but it will certainly try its best at all times.

After a tense couple of exercises, Nissan saw fit to reward us for the day’s work with a ride to relax the senses in the newest Urvan Premium. Sporting a new face, comfortable ride and lots of headroom, it was easy to fall asleep in the quiet and comfortable vehicle.

For those that wanted longer seat  time in the X-Trail, it was gladly provided. Equipped with a potent 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine, a smooth CVT transmission and all of these smart systems, driving back to Manila hardly seemed like a chore at all. These senses provided adequate information on the traffic around the car without being too noisy or overwhelming as they tend to be on other cars. The result was a soothing drive, with the mind put at ease thanks to Nissan Intelligent Mobility.

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