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by Tim Beissmann

The all-new 2014 Nissan X-Trail will feature crossover-inspired styling, innovative chassis and cabin technologies and the option of third-row seating when it goes on sale globally from July next year.

Taking design cues from Nissan’s Juke, Dualis and Murano crossovers, the third-generation X-Trail trades the boxy styling of its predecessors for a softer, more rounded appearance.

Gone are the squared-off headlights, slab-sided door panels and pillar-mounted tail-lights and in their place come angular headlamps with LED daytime running lights integrated into a sleek version of the traditional three-piece grille, flowing profile lines and horizontally aligned tail-lamps spanning the rear quarter panels and tailgate.

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The cabin also benefits from a complete makeover that looks decidedly more premium, featuring a stylish new steering wheel, instrument cluster, dashboard and centre console layout. Brushed metals, leather upholstery, and soft-touch and piano black plastics lift the perception of quality considerably over the outgoing model’s utilitarian interior.

Available as a seven-seater for the first time, the new Nissan X-Trail will effectively take the place of the Dualis+2, which will not be part of the next-generation Dualis range that is also due for release in 2014.

Nissan says it has improved the X-Trail’s practicality by incorporating rear doors that open out to almost 80 degrees and developing a new split-level cargo area that allows large items to be stored low down and lighter items placed on a shelf above.

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The 2014 X-Trail will debut the new ‘NissanConnect’ infotainment system, which will feature a seven-inch touchscreen with Google navigation and a library of applications covering music, social networking, travel and other functions.

Two-wheel drive models will again be offered alongside the more capable four-wheel-drive variants that adopt Nissan’s ‘All Mode 4x4i’ system.

Nissan claims two world-firsts with the new X-Trail: Active Ride Control, which monitors the road surface to detect undulations that could upset the pitch of the body and alters the damping to compensate; and Active Engine Braking, which harnesses the power of the ‘Xtronic’ automatic continuously variable transmission (CVT) to add engine braking while cornering or when decelerating to come to a stop – promising greater braking control and enhanced feel with less pedal effort.

Active Trace Control, currently found in the Infiniti M, uses sensors to monitor speed, steering angle, throttle opening and braking effort to brake wheels individually to reduce understeer.

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Nissan is yet to reveal details of the new X-Trail’s engine line-up at this stage, however promises the new model will “lead its class in terms of engine efficiency” thanks to the implementation of downsized petrol and diesel powerplants.

The new X-Trail will be sold in 190 countries around the world. An Americanised version of the new model – dubbed the Nissan Rogue – debuted alongside the X-Trail at today’s Frankfurt motor show.

Full specifications will be revealed closer to the launch of the new X-Trail in 2014.