It’s not everyday that representatives of a car company install blackout panels on the windshield and front windows—completely preventing you from seeing anything ahead of the car—and making you drive around an orange cone-strewn course.

In fact in my over 20 years of testing and writing about cars, I’ve never been permitted, let alone be asked, to drive a car without seeing where I’m going.

But that’s what Nissan Philippines asked of over 20 journalists recently to demonstrate the new X-Trail’s suite of cutting-edge electronic driver aids known as Nissan Intelligent Mobility (NIM).

I got to drive the X-Trail, in its current platform, three years ago in Yokohama, Japan. More than a dramatic departure from its two boxy predecessors, it was a revelation in driving comfort and luxury-car refinement and fit and finish in a mass-market product. It actually comes close to Nissan’s luxury car Infiniti brand in terms of overall build quality, smoothness, and refinement.

Now the third-generation (make that version 3.5) X-Trail continues to offer an unparalleled experience thanks to NIM.

Nissan Philippines, Inc., enjoying an unprecedented record growth pace of 48 percent from 2015 to 2016, has released an enhanced version of the popular compact SUV with new Nissan Intelligent Mobility features and styling upgrades. The new X-TRAIL is the first Nissan vehicle in the Philippines to be integrated with the largest range of available advanced Intelligent Mobility technologies.

“The Nissan X-Trail offers enough room for families and groups who love to go on road trips,” says Nissan Philippines President and Managing Director Ramesh Narasimhan. “With Nissan Intelligent Mobility, our customers can enjoy each adventure as they drive safe and sound. We want them to treat the new X-TRAIL as a partner that looks out for them so they can have a fun and hassle-free time on the road.”

For the “blind” drive, we relied on Nissan’s Around View Monitor that provides drivers with 360-degree and bird’s eye view perspectives. The full-color display provides sightlines that allow drivers to see the path of the vehicle as he or she turns the wheel to see the relative distances of the car from surrounding objects in real time. Needless to say, every participant managed to negotiate the very tight course without hitting any of the cones. If this helped us driving blind, imagine how much it’ll be of assistance when you’re driving in the tight confines of most parking spaces. No need for parking boys to stand outside your vehicle telling you when to stop.

Another exercise had us in the X-Trail as another vehicle drove alongside it. Moving Object Detection and Blind Spot Warning sends a visual alert (a yellow warning light near the side mirrors) when the other car is beside you and an audible beep when you signal for a lane change and a vehicle is beside (and slightly behind) you. Goodbye, blind spots!

We also got to witness a demo of NIM’s Forward Collision Warning and Intelligent Emergency Braking that sends a visual and auditory warning when approaching an object in the vehicle’s path, and automatically brakes to avoid collisions at speeds up to 30km/h.

When reversing, Rear Cross Traffic Alert alerts the driver to unseen vehicles passing crosswise behind the X-Trail. Finally the 4×4-I System automatically adjusts power distribution to give drivers full control of the vehicle as they take on challenging road conditions.

All these advanced features used to be science fiction years ago, and was only available in expensive European luxury sedans and SUVs until just recently. But now they’re all available in the new X-Trail.

Available in Premium Corona Orange, Marine Blue, Pearl White, Gun Metallic, and Diamond Black, the new X-Trail also has updated interior and exterior styling. It boasts of a new front fascia with integrated fog lamps, bumper, the signature Nissan “V-Motion” grille, and revised headlights with LED signature daytime running lights, as well as new 19-inch wheels, a fin-type antenna, and a new sunroof.

The new door and instrument panel finishers, new shift knob design, revised center console, and the console lid define the car’s plush interiors. Other design modifications include a new and surprisingly small flat-bottom steering wheel (which could be at home in a Porsche) with a modernized interface, and leather-booted transmission shift lever. Adding to the convenience of customers is the motion-activated tailgate that allows customers holding grocery bags in both hands to access the rear compartment without using their hands.

The Nissan X-Trail is available in both 4×2 and 4×4 variants, and are priced at P1,399,000 and P1,728,000, respectively.

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