A little over a year ago, the NIO ET7 made a stopover at the design studios in Ingolstadt-Gaimersheim on its journey from China to Norway. eMove360° Editor-in-Chief Sabine Metzger was allowed to take a first look at the flagship e-saloon together with NIO Chief Exterior Designer Armin Hobrücker. It has been on the market in Germany since October. We were allowed to test it for the current issue of eMove360 magazine in german language (download PDF). Our conclusion: WOW! Design, driving experience, range and NOMI – our very personal new friend…
By Sabine Metzger
Outside: Pure and progressive
Pure and progressive: just like a year ago when we took the car for a spin, we were impressed by the exterior of the 5.10-metre-long and almost two-metre-wide electric saloon. The snout is reminiscent of a shark. Nowhere does flashing chrome distract from simple practicality. The twin-beam LED headlights harmonise with the double-dash daytime running lights and the Heartbeat tail light. Depending on the situation, the lights coordinate with each other.
Interior: Feel-good atmosphere
When you get in, the door automatically opens a little when you hold the handle. As soon as you are seated, the system closes the door with a gentle pull. The floating displays, the two-tone steering wheel in a two-spoke design and the invisible intelligent air vents create an elegant feel-good atmosphere. Warm light, which you can regulate individually according to your personal colour preferences, and the generous panoramic roof do likewise. The space on offer is extremely generous – even for drivers and passengers over 1.90 metres tall. Instead of the traditional glove compartment, there is storage space under the floating centre console. However, the enormous legroom comes at the expense of boot space. Everything is finished to a high standard. NIO works instead with the sustainable material Karuun, a renewable rattan, a plastic-free material that fits perfectly into premium vehicles with its very classy look.
“Hey NOMI navigate us to Balderschwang in the Allgäu”.
The ET7 needs neither ignition lock nor start button. Simply move the lever in the direction of D and off you go. The first thing voice assistant NOMI does is wink at me from the top of the dashboard: “Hey NOMI, navigate us to Balderschwang in the Allgäu”, she understands me perfectly, even though – we have to admit – we didn’t even have the town with 350 inhabitants on our map. A rough gap, which I realise I will fortunately be able to close this weekend. The ET7 is smart. Its digital cockpit offers multi-screen interaction between NOMI, the world’s first in-vehicle artificial intelligence, and a 12.8-inch AMOLED centre display, 10.2-inch HDR digital instrument cluster, rear seat multifunction control with HDR touchscreen and an enhanced HUD.
Mastermind on wheels
The ET7 is also equipped with the third-generation Qualcomm Snapdragon Automotive Cockpit platform and has particularly powerful mobile connectivity and communication features – including 5G, V2X, Bluetooth 5.2, Wi-Fi 6 and UWB. With a high-performance computer that can generate eight GB of data per second and execute 100 trillion computing steps in that time, NIO also aims to be a pioneer in autonomous driving. Thanks to 33 sensor units, including a high-resolution LiDAR with ultra-long range, eleven high-resolution 8 MP cameras, an enhanced driver monitoring system, 5-millimetre wave radars, twelve ultrasonic sensors, redundant high-precision localisation units. Whether on motorways, in urban areas, parking or changing batteries – the declared goal is fully autonomous driving.
NOMI: caring and strict
In pouring rain, we drive around Munich towards Lindau. The NIO ET7 whirs. NOMI blows digital bubbles, sometimes she winks. I see if she has something in store for my tense back muscles: “Hey NOMI, please turn on the massage seat.” “Yes, gladly,” is her answer and already I feel the gentle pressure massage in my back and lumbar area. I love her for that. But suddenly – by now we have almost reached Kempten on the A7 – NOMI reprimands me sternly. “You are exceeding the speed limit”. But only once, then she winks at me again and holds a glass symbol with a straw to her mouth. Should I really drink a cocktail? Better not.
On par with a Tesla: 480 kW – 652 hp
After all, I’ve just got a free ride in front of me and a powerful e-drive underneath. The NIO ET7 is equipped with a 180 kW permanent magnet motor in the front and a 300 kW induction motor in the rear, with a maximum output of 480 kW (652 hp), peak torque of 850 Nm and acceleration from zero to 100 km in 3.8 seconds. Without a doubt, the Nio ET7’s performance feels on par with that of a Tesla. Moreover, unlike other manufacturers, the top speed is only limited at 200 km/h. Successful: Thanks to the air suspension system, the NIO ET7 automatically adjusts the ride height to the speed of the vehicle: At speeds above 100 or 115 km/h, the body lowers by 10 mm; below 60 kilometres per hour, it raises again. For loading, the level can even be lowered by five centimetres. The electrically retractable trailer coupling even allows a towing load of two tonnes.
Calmly up Germany’s highest pass road
Whether it would be able to do the same up the Riedberg Pass here, we cannot test – due to lack of load. From Fischen in the Allgäu, it is only a few kilometres over the Riedberg Pass to Balderschwang. It calmly spirals upwards, we cruise over the partly snow-covered road – no problem. After 16 kilometres of driving over Germany’s highest pass road, we reach the HUBERTUS Mountain Refugio Allgäu. Our NIO ET7 is allowed to charge its battery at the wallbox and we are at home for the next two days.
Hubertus Mountain Refugio Allgäu in Balderschwang
A fire flickers contemplatively in the iron bowl in front of the hotel door, and on the chairs around it some guests are engrossed in conversation or looking at the fire, a mug of mulled wine in their hands, relaxed. I read “Lust auf Leben” on a slate board framed by logs on the wall. Arriving at the Hubertus Mountain Refugio Allgäu means feeling warmth, relaxation and calm. At the reception, too, there is a relaxed cordiality despite the large number of guests arriving. With a homemade lemonade made from ginger, grapefruit and a hint of secret herbs, we are seated on blue velvet wing chairs and receive what is surely the most relaxed check-in we have ever experienced. We immediately feel at home and are well on the way to coming down.
Coming up. To come down is the motto: “Up” means 1044 metres above sea level. This is the altitude of the small village of Balderschwang in Oberallgäu, which Karl Traubel Sr. chose in the 1950s to open a small inn with its own butcher’s shop and a few guest rooms together with his wife Walli. Infinitely far away back then, when there was no pass road from Germany and Balderschwang was only accessible from the Austrian side. Austria begins right at the end of the village, the Bregenzerwald is right on the doorstep. Karl promised his wife Walli at the time that he would try it for five years, but it turned out to be a lifetime. The couple invested a lot of money and even more heart and soul in the Hubertus. When the Riedberg Pass road was finally built in the 1960s, more and more day trippers and house guests came. The Hubertus grew and grew…
Wellness pioneers of the first hour
When his father died at an early age, Karl jun. quit his job at a five-star hotel in Arosa, returned home and took over the business with his brother Walter – both are trained cooks and butchers. At the end of the 20th century, they were one of the first hoteliers to decide on a new orientation with the theme of wellness. High-quality wellness and treatment methods are still in the foreground today. Under Karl Traubel’s wife Christa’s management, the Hubertus was aligned for the first time in 2017 according to the holistic well-being concept HolisticLife, in order to harmonise body, mind and soul and to awaken new life energy.
New Mountain Spring Spa
We try to take in as much as possible for ourselves during these two days – each in our own way: enjoy the new Mountain Spring Spa with its saunas, look out at the snow-covered mountains from the infinity pool, trudge through the snow in the Zen garden and stretch out under the stars in the Japanese onsen pool. We explore the beauty and power of nature around the Hubertus on a snowshoe tour. There is always enough snow – in what is not without reason “Bavaria’s Siberia” – much to the delight of cross-country skiers, ski tourers, skiers and tobogganers.
Hospitality in action
Back at the Hubertus, the fire is crackling in the fireplace, friends are chatting on a sofa covered with sheepskins. A convivial group has gathered around the cosy wooden table. The friends from Switzerland have been coming up to Hubertus again and again for years. In general, all the guests give the impression that they have been here many times before. But perhaps that is also due to the warm hospitality with which the Traubels treat all their guests, a host family that wants to listen, that knows how to tell stories in a quiet way and in the endearing Allgäu dialect, and that gives its guests a temporary home – out of a deep passion. We too feel welcome and relaxed from the first moment. This place is a special retreat – Karl Traubel Sr. really felt that more than 70 years ago …
Address: Hubertus Mountain Refugio Allgäu, Dorf 5, 87538 Balderschwang im Allgäu, Tel 08328/9200, email@example.com, www.hotel-hubertus.de
Charging: 4 universal Typo-2 charging stations, 10 euros per charge.
Relax: Mindfulness and meditation courses, HolisticLife holistic concept, spa, yoga, natural bathing pond, infinity pool.
Outdoor: mountaineering, climbing, hiking, Nordic walking, mountain biking, golfing, cross-country skiing, skiing, snowshoeing, horse-drawn sleigh rides, snow tubing
Price: From 580 euros per person in a double room for three nights including full board, a spa treatment and other inclusive services.