The Beast from the East hasn’t quite battered Goodwood in the way it attacked large swathes of the country, although there’s still time yet, but our Nissan X-Trail is already a veteran of treacherous conditions in 2018.
We spoke a couple of weeks back about our trip across the channel and down through northern France to the Retromobile Salon in Paris, as we battled the closure of roads, stacking of lorries and vague French diversions. But what we didn’t get onto was the journey back.
Our snug time in the Nissan X-Trail on the way down seemed, to all intents and purposes, to have been bettered by the return journey, mostly due to the lack of confusing road closures and disinterested Gendarmes. That is until night began to fall about 30km south of Calais. As we began to relax thinking that our journey was over and that perhaps we could turn off the heated seats and put the climate control on standby, all hell broke loose.
The sun was not quite beyond the horizon when suddenly the oncoming rush of dark was accelerated by an almost apocalyptic increase in cloud and the ominous approach of some spots of fresh snow. What we weren’t expecting was for that flurry, in the space of around a minute, to turn into a full-on blizzard. On went, the X-Trails full 4x4 system, off went the cruise control and its bright automatic headlights flicked into action. What they illuminated was a road rapidly making the change through black and grey to purest white.
The X-Trail, being a seven-seater SUV, with all its wheels fully powered and laden with four people and their kit, wasn’t massively bothered by the change. The snow, in alarming fashion, was at least an inch deep within minutes, but all that could be felt in the big orange Nissan was a slight wobble as individual wheels began to break traction, only to be hauled back into line by the other trio. So unaffected and happy in its conditions was our SUV that the traction control light remained unlit through the whole experience.
The snow was gone almost as soon as it arrived, soon enough for us to get back up to speed and continue our journey toward the coast. Unfortunately not soon enough for the Peugeot 307 estate that met an untimely end shortly up the road from us. Another reminder than sometimes being in a big SUV has its advantages.