Text and photos by Aries B. Espinosa
CALL it coincidence or divine providence. The belated arrival in 2018 of the Nissan Terra, Nissan Philippines, Inc.’s (NPI) first entry in the local midsize SUV category, may have served as the crowning glory of a banner year for the Japanese car manufacturer in the country.
At a time when the rest of the auto industry plummeted more than 15% in sales, NPI got off that beaten path and created its own way upward. As a result, per Chamber of Automotive Manufacturers of the Philippines, Inc. year-end 2018 sales report, NPI grew by 40% from January to December last year compared to the same period in 2017.
And shortly after the Terra was introduced to the Southeast Asian market in August 2018 in Clark, Pampanga, the Terra contributed to that growth by about 12%, while in the process cornering 15% of the domestic midsize SUV category in the last quarter of 2018.
NPI president and managing director Ramesh Narasimhan on Feb. 19 explained these remarkable growth numbers — with the majestic Mayon Volcano and the limited-edition Fiery Red Terra VL proudly standing in the background — after a long drive on the breathtaking Camarines Sur and Albay coastal highway separating the country’s most active volcano and the open Pacific Ocean aboard variants of the Terra.
“The Nissan Terra is the classic example of our promise to bring the Nissan Intelligent Mobility [concept] into all our vehicles. In the Terra’s case, we have also combined the technology of NIM with the legendary Nissan Patrol heritage. This combination has been successful for us so far,” he said.
NPI intended the two-day adventure drive around Mount Mayon to feel more like a continuation of what the Terra started in the Clark EcoZone open grounds six months ago, when the SUV first displayed its capabilities on both on- and off-road drives.
“For those who were in the Terra launch at the backyard of Mount Pinatubo, you can see that we’re going from one volcano to another. This ‘go anywhere’ character of the Terra really carries on the nameplate of the legendary Patrol in terms of toughness and attitude, but at the same time the Terra is so comfortable to ride in that I noticed many of you were also asleep during the drive from Legazpi airport,” Mr. Narasimhan quipped.
And just like how the Terra did it on the rough and sandy Sacobia riverbed, the SUV did an encore of sorts on the blackened trail around Mayon Volcano, along a path where red-hot lava flowed 13 years before. The combination of 190hp at 3,600rpm and 450Nm of torque at 2,000rpm generated by the 2.5-liter YD25 diesel engine made short work of the hardened lava surfaces.
This seven-seater’s ride stability and comfort was again felt, with the sedan-like five-link coil spring suspension system and rigid rear-wheel axle, and the 4WD DIFF-Lock system, coupled with hill-descent control and hill-start assist giving drivers more confidence in negotiating trickier patches.
The off-road drive on Feb. 20 also highlighted the Terra’s blind spot warning and Intelligent Around View Monitor with Moving Object Detection, and the smart rear-view mirror that allowed drivers to see images from a back-mounted camera.
Even without the help of its intelligent mobility features, we all could see everything was coming up roses — and near-perfect cones — for Nissan in the Philippines.