Tasmania has The Overland. New Zealand has the Milford Track. But when it comes to getting blisters and sore knees (and getting caught out far from a functioning toilet), we in Canberra don’t miss out. We have the Centenary Trail.
Opened in 2013 to mark the capital’s 100th birthday, this “145-kilometre, self-guided trail for walkers and cyclists” loops around the ACT through urban and rural areas, tying in “iconic sites and hidden treasures” along the way.
You can walk the whole way over seven days at an average of 20 km per day, or ride it over three days at an average of 45 km per day.
Alternatively, you can drive around the ACT in a car in half a day, on nearby roads, in air-conditioned comfort. And there’s no non-cringey way to put this – I’ve decided to kick this off in the new Nissan X-Trail. Yep, you can see exactly what I did there.
The actual Centenary Trail walking path starts wherever you want it to start, but if you’re to do it according to the ACT Government’s website, the chequered line is at Parliament House.
Try pulling up along Parliament Drive to take photos of your car and time how long it takes before you’re arrested, so I decide to head to Section One’s first stop – Surveyor’s Hut – just off State Circle.
This small yellow-coloured, tin-covered brick shed is all that remains of the camp established by Canberra’s chief surveyor Charles Robert Scrivener in 1909. It was used as a base during his expeditions around the future capital site to store maps and other documents, and lays claim to being one of the oldest Commonwealth buildings in the ACT, although some miscreant has since seen fit to cover it in graffiti.
To the car then, which wears a name first used by the Japanese brand in 2000. The first X-Trail was the epitome of early Sports Utility Vehicles (SUV), in that a mud-loving 4WD was handed an urban suit and told to mind its manners. The boxy shape stayed through to the third generation in 2013 when the middle-aged spread started coming on.
Well, the good news is it’s now done a George Clooney. The familiar styling cues remain, but the X-Trail for 2023 looks slick and cool.
The brief remains the same in that it’s still a five-seat, medium-sized SUV, but now Nissan is in cahoots with Mitsubishi. Delve underneath and this shares its platform and general proportions with the Mitsubishi Outlander.
But where Mitsubishi has recently complemented its standard petrol engine with a plug-in hybrid (PHEV), Nissan has chosen to reinvent the standard hybrid. Under the bonnet of this ‘E-Power’ variant (available on both top Ti and Ti-L grades) is a 1.5-litre three-cylinder turbocharged petrol engine, tasked with nothing more than powering a lithium-ion battery pack which, in turn, powers all four wheels, without a pesky gearbox in between either.
This means, in a nutshell, that the X-Trail E-Power is closer to an electric car. And also what Top Gear trialled many years ago in the hand-built ‘Hammerhead Eagle i-Thrust‘ (sort of). Except there’s an engine which will rev higher occasionally depending on the battery’s needs.
Nissan also offers a pure EV in the form of the Leaf, and much of its tech is carried over here, too, including one-pedal driving. But where taking your foot off the accelerator in the Leaf will bring you to a complete stop, the system in the X-Trail cuts out at 10 km/h. I discovered this when coming up on someone’s expensive-looking rear bumper, necessitating a very hasty, last-minute shuffle to the brake pedal.
That, together with lane-keeping assistance that lynches you back into the lane should you deviate are my only grievances. Oh, and doors that remain locked even after parking, which will do your head in. Everything else is spot on, as it should be with a price tag of $58,000-plus.
Interior quality, comfort and space are sublime, especially with a panoramic sunroof overhead. You do still have to plug in your phone to use ‘Android Auto’ on the infotainment system, but that’s not a problem if you’d just done the proper thing and bought an Apple. And if you ever feel inclined to take your X-Trail on an actual trail, there are also modes to help in off-road and snowy situations.
Perhaps the best feature, however, is the fact I can circuit the ACT without having to stop for a charge, let alone fuel.
2023 Nissan X-Trail Ti E-Power
- $58,621 driveaway
- 1.5-litre three-cylinder turbocharged petrol engine and electric motor, 157 kW combined power
- Continuously-Variable Transmission (CVT), All-Wheel Drive (AWD)
- 6.1 litres per 100 km combined fuel usage, 800 km estimated range
- 0-100 km/h in 7 seconds
- 5-star ANCAP safety rating.
This car was provided for testing by Lennock Nissan in Phillip. Region has no commercial arrangement with Lennock Motors.