From my perspective, automotive manufacturers are the unofficial representatives of the Department of the Tourism (DOT). With their marketing programs aimed towards promoting their vehicles by way of ride and drives to scenic locations around the archipelago, both the local government and the manufacturer are in a “win-win” situation in terms of publicity and exposure in both print and social media.
This was proven once again recently in a trip sponsored by Nissan Philippines Inc. (NPI) when they shepherded motoring scribes to the beautiful island of Mindoro to experience the overall performance of the Nissan Navara. “This is a better way to explore and appreciate the beauty of Mother Nature,” said Ramesh Narasimhan, president of NPI.
After a sumptous breakfast at the Season’s Hotel, our contingent drove off to our destination which was a five-hour drive from our jump-off point in San Jose, Mindoro. This writer was in Navara No. 2, which I shared with my long time friends from the motoring beat; Anjo Perez of Wheels Magazine, and Ira Panganiban of Autocar PH. We immediately noticed how roomy the dual cab configuration of the Navara, which comfortably accommodated our size and heft, including our lugagges, food supply, and a cooler. After engaging the start/stop button, the multi-information display at the center console showed us the vehicle’s vital signs, as we drove off signalling the start of of Mindoro adventure.
Long Drive Ahead
Mindoro now was far different from the way it was a decade ago. Gone were the dusty rough roads, acres of undeveloped land, and commercialization is gradually gaining ground judging from the number of Jollibee and McDonald’s fast food stores we passed by enroute to Mount Malasimbo. The well-paved roads allowed us to test the power and torque of the 2.5-liter, four-cylinder engine with VGS Turbo. On long stretches of pavement, this writer had no difficulty summoning power, as all of the Navara’s 190 horses galloped in full speed during overtaking maneuvers.
Halfway through our journey, roadside improvements were hardly felt as the multi-link suspension gamely absorbed the road imperfections and the Navara took fast corners like a train on rails going up Mount Malasimbo.
After driving all day around the island, we reached our destination an hour before sundown. The organizers prepared tents at the campsite for the participants, with a stage in the middle where we would eventually drink the night away and shared tales about the drive to Malasimbo. Nissan has been doing “glamping,” a glamorous version of the camping which we were accustomed to as Boy Scouts. It was a delight to see cooks and a Manila-based chef doing all the cooking, as the media and NPI officials savored the tender beef steaks, Hungarian sausages served with mashed potatos, grilled fish, pasta, and drinks of all kinds were overflowing from wines, fresh juices and an assortment of soda drinks.
Work started early the next day as the media tested the off road capabilities and features of the Navara. With veteran race car driver George Ramirez assisting us around an off-road track on top of the campsite, we got to test the innovative features of the Navara’s Intelligent Around View Monitor Camera System, which complimented the Vehicle Dynamic Control (VDC), traction control, hill start assist system, hill descent control, and the multi-link suspension, which all worked together in unison that gave this writer confidence in driving around the slippery and teacherous off-road path. We all did the off road exercise using regular tires that showed how intelligent the Navara was during off-road duties.
After a tiring off-road experience, we spent the rest of our free time to cool off our heels off at the luxurious Infinity Resort Hotel. Being the adventurous corporate lads that they were, Nissan arranged one last adventure, a RoRo journey back to civilization. It was time well spent, and it was a great way to experience the innovation of Nissan and the beauty of Mindoro.
PHOTOS BY DINO RAY V. DIRECTO III