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Xtreme Xcitement in Flooded Manila

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Finally. I get to drive my dream car from college days. A pickup! But not just any pickup. The new Nissan Navara TechXtreme is the stuff of electric dreams.

Nothing can beat the experience of driving the latest Nissan Navara TechXtreme during the four straight days the heavens decided to unleash their wet fury on the streets of Manila.

My city adventure began the evening we navigated the streets of Bonifacio Global City. I actually rode shotgun the first few hours as Rue, photographer/artist/ice cream monster, took the wheel. I wanted to play with all the controls and savor the sweet technology packed into the dashboard of the TechXtreme.

Extreme Technology
Of course, I was immediately drawn to the GPS. It’s slightly clunkier than what I’m used to, being one of those with such a poor sense of direction that I turn my GPS on even in familiar territory, just in case.

The first thing I notice is that the GPS has no audio. Next, that the streets of Bonifacio Global City have no buildings on the GPS map. But the outdated software is easily fixed if you slip in a better GPS program into the micro-SD card slot. Kudos to Nissan for putting in two micro-SD card slots. I love extras that make me think of a hundred things I could use them for!

The GPS touchscreen changes to a radio-band selection interface at the touch of a button. Strange serif font, but I ceased to complain the minute I heard the stereophonic quality. Wow. And you could pre-program more stations than you’ll ever listen to! Imagine metal bouncing off the truck walls as you navigate BGC in the pouring rain, with hardly any visibility. Good times.

The AV system specs: Double-din mounting, DVD/CD/MP3, USB port, Bluetooth, Aux, a dedicated iPod line (cord and all), internal memory for six discs, and dual headrest-mounted, touchscreen monitors.

Did you notice how Bonifacio Global City turns into a data dead-spot during a thunderstorm? All of a sudden I can’t access Twitter. (Hey, I want to boast about my sweet, rain-drenched ride to my 15 contacts!) No problem. I can turn the TechXtreme into a hotspot. I simply insert the mobile broadband dongle into the USB slot and, voila, unlimited WiFi! Time to tinker with the DVD player. I’m still lugging Richard Poon’s DVD boxed set with me from Miguel’s music review, so I pop a disc in. It’s like being in a surround-sound theater that’s sloshing around High Street on a wet night.

The darkness disappears each time we park and open the doors. LED lights flood the cabin. Nothing beats the otherworldly experience of sitting bathed in LED light as the world outside your window remains under a wet, mysterious cloud of darkness. If only I had a DVD of The Ring to scare Rue with. The coolest thing about the touchscreen? When you hit reverse, the sensors immediately feed images from the rear-view camera into the monitor, which shows you everything behind you that you could possibly hit.

I just had to chuckle as some security guards insisted on inserting themselves behind the truck to guide or lead me out of a parking spot. The monitor even had guidelines for perfect parallel parking and alarms that sounded out at varying degrees of urgency as I passed each guideline and saw the word “Stop!” flash.

Extreme Economy
I spent the next few days driving around Metro Manila in sideways rain, sad that I couldn’t use the adjustable four-wheel-drive system anywhere. It’s around this point that I start to worry that this story would suffer from a dearth of photos because of the torrential rains. (Thanks for sharing your pix, Kris Lim!)

As I tested this bad boy through the floods of Makati, lesser cars slowly inched their way through whatever portions of asphalt had less water. I felt (or imagined) a few motorists giving me dirty looks as I (quite unintentionally) splashed them with water.

Considering that I had to floor the accelerator during three days of floods, and that I love redlining such a huge vehicle anyway, I was shocked at how little fuel I consumed!

After 15 hours of driving, the first five hours spent in BCG and Makati traffic, and keeping the AC on for so long as I was in the truck, the gauge remained unchanged. After four days of extreme driving and AC abuse, I had used up only a fourth of the 80-liter tank. (The guys at Nissan said they just filled it up to auto-stop.)

Extreme Speed
I never really saw myself driving very fast in my pickup dreams. I envisioned myself lugging my Architecture thingamabobs around campus at a leisurely speed.

But the TechXtreme pushed me beyond my wildest dreams. It is one fast monster! I felt like I was in a dream as I accelerated to 60kph in five seconds! In a manual pickup that runs on diesel?

No way. I tried it again. Yep. Lightning- fast. When Nissan guys told me the TechXtreme was the fastest truck until the new Frontier was released, I just absentmindedly nodded my head. Ha!

Now, if only I could push it full throttle from 0 to 100kph. Impossible in the rain-soaked city. So I settled for 80 or 90kph, reached while driving responsibly. Still, it was enough so that I overtook some fast automatics on the road.

What was really awesome though was that I’d reviewed those cars before and realized just how unbelievable this kind of acceleration was, even in a six- speed manual truck.

Just a couple of days prior, when I first mounted the driver’s seat, I felt like Casey the Engineer trying to control this huge machine.But after I had adjusted the seat and steering wheel for maximum comfort (which took quite a few tries since the seats could have been more comfy) and tested the acceleration repeatedly, I almost felt like I was driving a sports car, albeit one that had me looking way down on the rest of the world.

The Nissan Navara TechXtreme put my dream on overdrive. How can I ever picture myself in something other than a truck again?

How much will the dream cost you? Php1.438 M for the six-speed M/T and Php1.498 M for the five-speed A/T.

Print ed: 08/12


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