Oh! Winter is almost over and there was no snowball flying, nor was there snow under the tires. It can't stay like this! So quickly into the X-Trail e-4ORCE and just follow your nose!
Everyone knows that an event is suddenly just around the corner and catches you completely unprepared. Wedding anniversary, Christmas, mother-in-law's birthday: suddenly it's tomorrow, even though there was almost exactly a year to prepare for it and buy presents.
But conditions can also surprise. By having a foreseeable end, for example. This applies to the dominance of the internal combustion engine in cars. Full-time and part-time electric vehicles of different designs are now seeping into more and more segments. Or the snow season. Suddenly you realize that you haven't even been in the snow yet. With a snowball in your hands and snow under your wheels.
So it happened that we set out to experience white again before the soon-to-be-green. And with the Nissan X-Trail e-POWER we felt well prepared. Why? Electric e-4ORCE four-wheel drive, good winter tires and no fear of range, because e-POWER means: The Nissan generates its own electricity.
Approach in Bregenz
We have the border region between Germany and Austria, starting point Lake Constance, as relatively snow-sure. turned off. So in Stuttgart on the A 8 towards Munich and let it run. Cruising speed 150, 160 turns out to be extremely comfortable. The seats, upholstered in beautifully stitched leather, are very comfortable and the noise insulation takes its job seriously. Can't hear much from the engine up ahead. At a constant speed, it revs at a low speed and sounds pleasantly confident. When accelerating up to 188 km/h on the digital speedometer of the head-up display, it increases the speed and voice, but doesn't seem stressed or annoying.
So it's fluffy to Memmingen, where we turn onto the A 96 towards Lake Constance. Now always follow your nose, your own paths only emerge when you walk and planning on the Internet is for wimps. Yes now.
There is green to see along the Autobahn, a lot of green. Even as we work our way north-east from Bregenz into the mountains, it's not really wintry. The mountains, which form the horizon a little later under the slightly cloudy sky, do not look as white powdered as one would hope as a snow seeker.
Well, nobody is rushing us. So look here and look there. Let yourself be driven – very often driving purely electrically for minutes – and let the astonishingly green landscape work its magic on you. Every now and then the petrol engine turns on imperceptibly and charges the small storage battery. But after a short while we forget that the e-POWER drive is quite a complex thing.Because even on steep inclines, the engine does not rev up with every tiny command of the gas like with conventional hybrid drives, which send both electric and petrol horsepower to the wheels. The 1.5 liter raises the speed in several stages and delivers enough juice that the electric motors keep the wheels going.
Confident, not short of breath
That doesn't sound and seems short of breath and hectic, but all in all pretty confident. The Riedberg Pass comes to mind, Germany's highest pass. So roughly to the east. Soon the distant peaks will be wearing white snow caps across the board, which will hold up to those slopes that are probably mostly in the shade. We get lost, sometimes choose small, unpaved paths where signs remind us quite uselessly to mount snow chains when there is snow.
Slowly, downhill with increased engine braking, we work our way through these paths lying under a green roof of leaves, on which in our imagination a few decades ago smugglers used the not quite lawful small border traffic. Here a brook is babbling, there felled tree trunks are waiting to be taken away. Warm light falls through the treetops onto the partially icy mogul slope, where deep puddles leave no doubt that winter isn't that serious about ice and frost. Great how finely the power can be dosed when gently passing potholes the size of a cattle head. The fact that the X-Trail often does this purely electrically increases the appeal of the off-road insert. On soft soles through the woods - great.
Well, there's more
The Riedberg Pass, a wide asphalt road with wide curves, turns out to be a disappointment. Yes, it leads east of Balderschwang through a gleaming white landscape, but the X-Trail doesn't really get snow under its wheels. Clear case of bad timing. We should have started a few days earlier. Or later?
In any case, it won't work here. So Plan B has to take effect – the one with the travel bags. Now the navigation is used, it guides us to an enchanted hotel in the middle of the dark forest, where there is not only excellent food, but also free rooms and a deep sleep.
So a new attempt the next day. Off to Austria, we decide. Now that a second, full day can be filled, we roll even more relaxed through small towns and over winding roads that are bone dry and well asphalted. Whether the combustion engine is running or not hardly ever penetrates our consciousness, because with this driving style it usually only works with a slightly increased idle speed.
As hoped, the snow crept in almost unnoticed. At first it is little more than a gray veil here and there, then it becomes increasingly unmissable as a closed layer along the federal highway 200.Along the road, the cars of those skiers squeeze tightly into the snow, which we see as small dots whizzing down the slopes. Something should work off-road here.
And right: Even the small path that leads off the main road lures with a solid blanket of snow, three bends further the white splendor is already piling up knee-deep at the edge of the path. How exactly the Nissan distributes its power between the axles in Drive Mode Snow leaves us in the dark. But he does it pretty well, because we get so far that the wheel hubs almost sink into the snow. Traction and ground clearance are plenty, but we don't want to overdo it: the traction control cannot be switched off, and getting stuck because of the last kick doesn't seem so appealing to us.
Nevertheless: Mission accomplished. The 235 winter tires saw plenty of snow and the e-4ORCE four-wheel drive was able to show what it can do. In addition, we learned quite a bit at the end of the day. First, a hot air balloon is significantly louder at launch than an X-Trail can ever be. Secondly, it certainly has a shorter range - and thirdly, powder snow is not suitable for snowballs. It slips through your fingers. But it is enough for a small snow flurry.