Automotive

First Drive: Nissan Terra 4×4 SUV

It’s a powerful ride on- and off-road

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When we’re not reviewing the latest smartphones, cameras, or laptops, we go for long drives and that’s exactly what we did earlier this week as Nissan officially introduced its new vehicle.

Having been revealed in China earlier this year with slight differences in specs, Nissan chose the Philippines as the official venue to introduce its new Terra SUV to the ASEAN region.

Delegates were flown in for this two-day event and escorted straight to Clark, Pampanga. Here, the company set up an outdoor space to ensure the new mid-size SUV had a sizable area to play around in.

Terra up close

We had our first encounter with the Terra right after the launch was done. All five variants were there and as soon as the closing remarks were said, media representatives were lured to the vehicles like moths to a flame — only it didn’t burn us.

Although it takes a lot of cues from the Navara, you’ll know the DNA of the popular Patrol has been passed down to the Terra. Standing before it, you’ll be staring at its V-motion grille that has been a signature look of the company for quite a while now.

Boomerang-shaped LED headlamps with daytime running lights also made their way to the new Terra while wheel arches remain bulky just like its pickup sibling. The lamps at the rear are also as eye-catching as the ones in front.

Inside, the layout of the dashboard and its instrumentations are straight up similar to the Navara. I personally like the layout of the truck since it’s simple and I know exactly where to look. Although it might be for the exact same reasons that a potential buyer might get turned off.

The Terra seats seven people (unlike its Chinese counterpart). Now, if you’ve ever ridden on the last row of a seven-seater SUV before, you’re familiar with the effort it takes to flip over the second-row seats just to get in and out of the vehicle. Nissan made things easier with the use of a button right beside the driver. With one press, you can fold and tumble either side of the seats on the second row — no elbow grease needed.

The launch event in itself was already a treat, and though I already knew the second day will be an off-road test drive, I never thought it would be an experience to remember.

Highway cruising

My schedule dictated that I belonged to the last batch of media to drive the Terra off-road. And right before it was our turn, light rain started pouring in. As the rain died down a bit, a fleet of brown, muddy Terras with step boards covered in sand started rolling in to the hotel’s driveway.

We were all given the top variant 4×4 VL Terra with 7-speed AT and as soon as we got inside our designated SUVs, we were off for the trails.

From Clark, getting to the site is via the SCTEx (Subic-Clark-Tarlac Expressway), so we got to experience the Terra for some highway driving.

One thing everyone in the vehicle immediately noticed was how quiet the ride was. Nissan says they implemented a three-layer dampening system to keep the cabin as quiet as possible and it was evident — at least during the few hours of us riding in it.

Both the new Nissan Terra and Navara pickup share the same 2.5-liter turbo-diesel engine at their cores. The Terra didn’t even break a sweat getting the needle up the speedometer. Stepping on the gas pedal increased the speed effortlessly to the point that I had to be extra aware to keep it within the speed limit.

We also got to try out some of the vehicle’s safety tech from the Nissan Intelligent Mobility suite. Together with its Blind Spot Warning, changing lanes without flipping the signal light will activate its Lane Departure Warning through a series of beeps. These aren’t new features, but we appreciate these models all coming standard with bells and whistles.

Off-road adventure

After having our short drive on the highway, we finally reached our kick-off point for the day’s main adventure.

Aerial view of the site. Can you see the line of Terras?

The site is called Sapang Uwak – Delta V Circuit and is one of the more challenging trails that lead to Mount Pinatubo — an active stratovolcano in the northern Philippines.

We were no longer on paved roads, but we started the convoy on a relatively wide course which quickly escalated to a narrow crawl of uneven terrain. Slow and steady, we inched our way through the first stage. We also transitioned to 4WD and the SUV’s differential lock system was already put to use early on.

The Japanese company has some interesting tech up their sleeves and we’re already quite familiar with the Around View Monitor from when we were at Mt. Malasimbo. It once again proved useful during this trip. The trail was narrow enough for only one vehicle, and its Intelligent Rear View Monitor turned from a normal mirror into a display that shows up to four different angles when you need an extra “spotter” for common blind spots.

One view is through a back-facing camera just beside the third brake light. Nissan says this would help drivers see the rear better at night. There’s also a rear bumper view for backing up, and the Around View Monitor switches between a bird’s eye view of the Terra, as well as a closer view of the right front wheel to completely eliminate blind spots.

We eventually reached the lahar-covered riverbed which is what the area has been known for. In other words, it was when the real fun started.

Lahar, having the same consistency as sand, tends to easily sink big cars and is usually a challenge for off-roaders. There were also shallow bodies of water and huge, sharp rocks scattered along the way. The Terra didn’t back down or show signs of struggle as we followed the trail — no, not even once.

We spent about an hour blazing through valleys with short breaks only to change drivers and take photos. It’s quite impressive, really, since the Terras were taking on the trail like a full-fledged off-road vehicle while running only on factory-fresh stock tires.

One of the driving marshalls even added that we were all driving pre-release models and the batch for dealerships will arrive with slight improvements and tweaks.

Mind you, we were not just crawling throughout the course. The marshall gave me a green light to floor the pedal and I did exactly that during a stretch. Needless to say, the Terra took beatings like a proper SUV and without losing significant traction on the surface of lahar.

Another thing I loved about the Terra was that even in these kinds of bumpy drives, ride comfort was still top-notch thanks to the company offering a coil spring rear suspension system. It’s been the same experience with the Navara, so I wasn’t really surprised the Terra inherited this trait.

Thoughts on the way home

After an entire day of being driven by four groups of thrill-seeking media reps and pushing the vehicles to their limits, there’s simply no argument that the Nissan Terra is more than capable of tackling roads less traveled.

We only used it for a couple of hours and though it might not be enough to give a complete verdict, believe us when we say it has a smooth ride on- and off-road, a quiet cabin, power on tap, and is equipped with tech for safe and convenient drives.

Although, since it was lifted from a Navara, similarities are found inside and out. This could either be a good or a bad thing for prospective customers. Another thing is that out of the five variants, only one has a manual transmission and it’s found on the base 4×2 model. The lack of a 4×4 MT variant could potentially drive away off-road nuts that still prefer driving stick.

The Nissan Terra might be facing an uphill battle being late to the game and skipping on features like sunroof or a power tailgate, but it’s a vehicle that specializes in conquering challenging obstacles.

Automotive

Sex in driverless cars and what might be the future of autonomous vehicles

All according to a study

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Photo by Kenny Luo

What will autonomous vehicles bring? More than just a driverless solution from point A to point B, according to a new study.

Of course, the logical effect would be the phasing out of traditional cabs and a switch in focus to the customer experience. A paper conducted by University of Surrey Tourism Professor Scott Cohen and University of Oxford Transport Studies Lecturer Debbie Hopkins goes even further in imagining a world where driverless cars are a reality.

According to Cohen, “It’s only a natural conclusion that sex in autonomous vehicles will become a phenomenon.” “Sex,” the study explains, “plays a central role in many tourism experiences.” It furthers, “It is just a small leap to imagine Amsterdam’s Red Light District ‘on the move.’”

The researchers also warn authorities to be ready. With the driverless revolution less than a decade away, these transport spaces may possibly be used as cover for illicit activities like prostitution, drug dealing, or even terrorism. On the other side of the spectrum, privacy issues might also arise as these autonomous vehicles will most probably be tracking everything.

In the meantime, let’s sit tight — in cars that actually have drivers in them.

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MG Philippines makes owning British heritage vehicles a reality for all first car owners

A new contender in the local automotive market!

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Choosing your first car can be a daunting process. You might have a lot of questions: “What type of car should I get? What car brand should I go for? How do I get my money’s worth?” These are all valid questions. Good thing MG Philippines is around to offer a straight-up solution for today’s hip, young blood in search of their first car.

British heritage auto brand MG wants the Philippine market to “Be Excited” as it introduces its first wave of vehicles in the Philippines, which are sure to appeal to the needs of modern Filipinos looking to own their first ride. The lineup from MG Philippines consistently offers vehicles that flaunt a fresh style, modern driving aids, and creature comforts — all at very competitive prices.

MG ZS

First in the lineup is the MG ZS crossover SUV which is aimed at those who demand versatility in their rides, without compromising on vehicle features and breaking the bank. On the outside, the MG ZS is a looker with its London Eye headlamps, Stardust grille, and 17-inch alloy wheels that beg to be noticed.

Bells and whistles include a push start/stop button, as well as a multi-function steering wheel with cruise control. The vehicle also sports an 8-inch LCD infotainment system that supports Apple CarPlay so you can stay connected to your device and access media, all while keeping your hands on the wheel. Cruising on the outskirts of the city? Simply roll the Stargazer panoramic sun roof back for a breath of fresh air.

The MG ZS also comes standard with Collision Protection technology and curtain airbags for added safety. Other advanced safety features include an Anti-lock Brake System, Cornering Brake Control, Electronic Brake Assist, Electronic Brake Distribution, Hill Start Assist, Tire Pressure Monitoring System, and Traction Control System.

In terms of power, it has a 1.5-liter naturally aspirated engine that produces 114HP and 140Nm of torque. The MG ZS comes in three variants with the following prices:

  • MT “Style” – PhP 818,888 introductory price
  • AT “Style” – PhP 868,888 introductory price
  • AT “Alpha” – PhP 998,888 introductory price

MG 6

If you’re looking for a sporty-looking ride that doesn’t let down on performance, the MG 6 fastback sedan is your best bet from the lineup. It has a longer, taller, and wider body than others in its segment and exudes an authoritative stance thanks to its 18-inch two-tone alloy wheels, sporty body lines, and a confident-looking fascia.

The interior is equipped with sporty, two-tone black and red seats, dash, and door panels. There’s also a flat-bottomed steering wheel — a clear nod to the brand’s racing heritage. Simply looking at its interior makes your heart beat faster with excitement.

It’s not all about the looks for the MG 6. Under the hood resides a turbocharged 1.5-liter engine which produces 162HP and 250Nm of torque. MacPherson struts up front and blade-type multi-link rear suspension also give you the edge with sharp handling and a smooth-sailing ride. Pricing for the two variants with 7-speed transmission are as follows:

  • AT “Alpha” – PhP 1,068,888 introductory price
  • AT “Trophy” – PhP 1,188,888 introductory price

MG RX5

Your routine might require you to need a daily vehicle that can capably ferry you to and from work, but you might also want it to be versatile enough to take on road trips on weekends. For this, consider the MG RX5. This compact SUV embodies power and class while also being versatile enough to bring on trips outside the metro.

The RX5’s elegant dashboard and door inserts are finished in high-grade materials while the cabin has ample legroom and headroom to fit the entire gang comfortably. You can also haul larger cargo thanks to its 60/40 split-fold function.

Expect a comfortable ride with the RX5, since it is been equipped with an enhanced MacPherson up front, with a rear multi-link suspension system. This ensures you and your passengers are comfortable throughout every ride. That one friend who always sleeps through trips is sure to appreciate this feature.

Additional features include keyless entry, push start/stop button, cruise control, and an electronic parking brake with autohold function for easier and safer driving.

The MG RX5 comes equipped with a 7-speed double-clutch automatic transmission and is available in two models.

  • MT “Core” – PhP 1,058,888
  • AT “Style” – PhP 1,228,888

That’s not all!

MG knows that pretty much everything is connected nowadays through our smartphones. Hence, the company is currently producing an accompanying app to closely monitor its car’s running stats and allow online booking of service appointments. No more waiting in line at the service center! They are also gearing up to opening 16 new dealerships to better accommodate its customers all over the country.

With these offerings, MG Philippines aims to deliver quality vehicles to the Philippine market, while giving them unparalleled service and outstanding value for their hard-earned cash.

So, after reading what MG Philippines has to offer, have you found your match?

Visit the MG pop-up store this month, and get up close and personal with the latest vehicles from MG Philippines. See the following dates and locations:

  • November 15 to 18, 2018 — SM Mall of Asia Concert Grounds (2018 Auto Focus Pre-Christmas Test Drive Festival)
  • November 20 to December 20, 2018 — SM City Cebu
  • November 29 to December 5, 2018 — SM Megamall

Please visit www.mgmotor.com.ph for more info. Follow MG Philippines on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.


This feature was produced in collaboration between GadgetMatch and MG Philippines.

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Automotive

5 driving tips for pregnant women

What to do to ensure the safest drive

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Illustration by MJ Jucutan

It’s 2018 and women can drive. And you know what? They can even drive while pregnant. 😎

But, having and growing another person inside of you entails special considerations. To ensure the safest and most comfortable drive, I’ve rounded up a checklist for those expecting.

Make yourself comfortable

Considering you’re driving around an instant two people, make sure you’re comfortable when you get behind the wheel. Being nice and cozy in the driver seat before you head out ensures less distractions when you’re already driving.

Adjust your seat so that you have enough room. We know the right positioning can be a little confusing because of how your body has changed, but as a general rule, your breastbone should be 10 inches from the steering wheel. You can even pack small pillows for your back to make sure it has proper support.

Use the seat belt properly

Yep, it can get tricky. But, here’s how it should go:

Your seat belt should be below your belly bump and the lock should be at your hips. The shoulder belt should run across your breasts to the side of your bump. Remove extra layers like thick jackets to make sure everything is fastened and secured in the right places.

Take breaks

There’s no shame in stopping to take a driving breather. You are carrying another human, so you’re excused. Make sure you stop and pause every 90 minutes for a toilet break. Use this opportunity to rest your feet and relax.

Be prepared

Like a true girl scout, make sure you’ve stocked your car with supplies and much-needed snacks. Always have a bottle of water ready and pick health food you can nibble on ahead of time for your drives. Have all your info with you in the car — including your doctor’s number and pregnancy details — just in case. Also, it helps to plan your routes ahead and schedule your drives.

Check yourself

You know yourself best so before heading out, assess how you feel. Make sure you’re feeling alright and consider how you’ll be feeling in the coming hour. Be honest with yourself and recognize that there might be days when you’re better off not heading out on your own. The best preparation is prevention.

Lastly, congratulations girl! 🎉


Thanks to our friends at Ford for sending over some driving tips and inspiring this piece. 

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