Nissan's funky Rogue Warrior swaps wheels for snow tracks.
Words and pictures by David Miller
The Nissan Rogue Warrior is a rugged variation of the Rogue crossover that can conquer otherwise unconquerable weather conditions in its path. It's not a production piece that you will see on the road or at a ski chalet, but a prototype that sits on heavy duty snow tracks to showcase the innovation and creativity of Nissan Canada. The best part about it is that it's not just a trailer-queen concept, but something that can actually do what it says it can do.
In order to test out this prototype, we went to the Station De Ski Valinouet in Monts-Valin National Park, Quebec. The test would allow us to take the Rogue Warrior up some scary steep ski slopes in snowy and icy conditions... and then back down. A variety of different slope severities would determine if the Rogue really had that warrior capability.
A very good question indeed! Mostly it comes down to being a marketing tool for Nissan's best-selling Rogue crossover. It's another way to get the Rogue some exposure in a different light, and as Didier Marsaud, senior manager, corporate communications at Nissan Canada puts it, “this shows that Nissan can be innovative and try things differently.”
The main feature of the prototype clearly is its heavy duty snow tracks that take an hour to either assemble or disassemble. The snow tracks measure 76 cm (30 in) in height, and 122 cm (48 in) in length and have an individual track width of 38 cm (15 in).
In order to fit the snow tracks on, the Rogue had to be raised two-inches to accommodate them. Mud flaps branch out from the sides of the Rogue to prevent snow from hitting the body and windows as you drive. The front bumper, fenders and shock absorbers have been modified in order to work with this new heightened construction.
The conditions weren't ideal for any ordinary vehicle, but that didn't affect the Rogue Warrior as it can scale a 45-degree grade. It uses the same 2.5-litre four-cylinder engine found in the regular Rogue matched to Nissan's CVT (more about that later). I just put it in Drive and went charging up the snowy hill as if it was a regular road incline. The only adaptation I had to make was sticking to small steering inputs rather than fighting the Warrior to guide it up the hill. It's important to note that steering should only occur with the vehiclein motion and that includes three-point turns. The good news is that throughout my ride, steering and maneuvering were executed easily without much strain or force.
As you go up the steep hill, it naturally takes a while to get up to speed. We never got stuck and that's even with trying out some heavy powdery areas on the course. In this expedition, the Rogue Warrior reached 80 km/h on more of a flat surface, but is capable of getting up to 100 km/h.
Over the years, CVTs (Continuously Variable Transmissions) have received a bad rap. However, when fitted to the Rogue Warrior it's a match made in heaven, always finding the right ratio and keeping the vehicle in motion on the most challenging slopes. Nissan's Xtronic transmission constantly accounts for various driving scenarios and changes ratios on the fly to stay in the right one.
There was one time when I felt I took on too much snow and got stuck in the heavy stuff. It was at that moment that the CVT switched to a lower multiplication to keep me going and get back on track. That was the only time there was any potential for disaster in the middle of an incline, but the CVT saved the day. In my mind, there's no way that this vehicle could work with a simple automatic transmission, and definitely not a manual version.
The Nissan Juke-R gained a lot of attention a few years back, which led Nissan Canada's Didier Marsaud to investigate something similarly unique for its best-selling Rogue crossover. Simultaneously, a commercial campaign labelled 'Winter Warrior' was garnering much attention and ended up being picked up for American television. The connection between the two, created the vision for a Rogue that could conquer the worst weather conditions in 'real life' – and that's how the Rogue Warrior idea was first born.
Nissan Canada would reach out to Motorsports in Action (MIA) to take on the task of building the Rogue Warrior in time to show it off at the 2016 Montreal International Auto Show. Carl Hermez of MIA would take control of the project and reach out to Nissan France and the UK-based engineering specialist Ray Mallock Ltd. (RML) for some tips on how they built the Nissan Juke-R.
Carl Hermez of MIA was on site to provide a walkaround of the Rogue Warrior. In October, MIA was tasked with building the snow-tracked Rogue and it took them only 40 hours to design and build the prototype. Now, they just had to wait three months for a big snowfall in January in order to test it out.
MIA is the company tasked with building all the race-spec Nissan Micras and Nissan Micra Cup champion Olivier Bédard played a part in building up the Rogue Warrior. He starred in a video that had him transport some impatient skiers and snowboarders up a ski hill. They managed to climb up a 30-degree incline and go through 40 centimetres of snow.
After the Nissan Rogue Warrior's reveal in Montreal, the exposure reached levels that Nissan couldn't have imagined. It total, 250 media outlets picked up the story, while 1.5-million people worldwide watched the video featuring Olivier Bédard on Facebook and YouTube. From a small production in Canada, it truly became a worldwide sensation.
The Nissan Rogue Warrior was shown off at the Montreal International Auto Show in January, as well as the Canadian International AutoShow in Toronto this past February. It now will be on its way to the 2016 Vancouver International AutoShow from March 23-27. After that, it's anyone's guess, but wouldn't it be nice to use it as a promotional tool at some of the more popular ski destinations?
The Nissan Rogue Warrior won't be produced for the public at the dealership level, but it's something that can be created from a regular Rogue by MIA, if you really want one. The warranty will obviously be voided on the Rogue crossover, but for a price of $25,000-$30,000 on top of the Rogue's price, whic starts at $24,948, it can be yours.
The production version of the Nissan Rogue is currently the 12th best-selling vehicle in Canada with 35,841 units sold in 2015, a 24.3 per cent increase over 2014. It has a front-wheel drive setup and produces 170 horsepower from its 2.5-litre engine. It's an IIHS Top Safety pick with a fuel economy rating of 9.1L/100 km in the city and 7.1L/100 km on the highway.
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