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

A look at the new Nissan Juke

A more matured successor

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Nissan has officially introduced the refreshed model to its Juke — a funky-looking car that had some people love it while some would rather look at a different direction.

The new model appears as if it’s nicely hit by puberty. It now looks cleaner overall, with the V-motion grille still there but appears to be a bit sleeker.


Up front, the headlamps have been replaced with tri-bar LED lights and are accompanied by LED fog lamps. The taillights, on the other hand, have been updated to thinner strips. Gone are the boomerang-shaped rear lights of the previous model.

It now sports a contrasting roof design making it look similar to more luxurious SUVs and its rear door handles remain hidden along the C-pillars. Meanwhile, the new Juke stands on 19-inch wheels that blend well with its overall stature.

With its refreshed design comes bigger dimensions. The new Juke grew a bit larger in terms of length, width, and height.

This, of course, translates to a bigger cabin. According to the company, the interior now has more space for passengers as well as more cargo space in the trunk.

The seats are wrapped in black leather with an option for red accents all over for the higher-end variants. It features a flat-bottomed steering wheel, optional Bose speakers, and an eight-inch infotainment system with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.

If your passengers wish to stream music and movies on their gadgets during long drives, the cabin has been equipped with its own Wi-Fi hotspot.

Of course, it comes with Nissan’s Intelligent Mobility suite. Things like Adaptive Cruise Control and Road Sign Recognition make for smoother and easier driving. While its Lane Keep Assist, Blind Spot Monitoring, and Rear Cross-Traffic Alert ensure that everyone inside the cabin is safer.

It also boasts its new ProPILOT technology that makes the vehicle handle the steering, braking, and acceleration on its own — making it a semi-autonomous vehicle.

Under the hood, it runs on a three-cylinder turbocharged engine that outputs 117 horsepower. It can then be mated to a six-speed manual transmission or a seven-speed dual-clutch transmission.

So far, the new Juke is just being offered in Europe but it will be available in more markets in the future.

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Automotive

Toyota PH enters the hybrid space with its new Corolla Altis

The Corolla line continues

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Toyota Motor Philippines has just unveiled the newest Corolla Altis. There are five models to choose from including the company’s first hybrid variant in the country.

The new Altis comes with a fresh exterior and what sells it most are the pair of headlamps that wrap around its body. A large black grille adds weight to the front fascia and is then flanked by accented fog lamps.


Going around will also reveal an updated look. The taillights have been tweaked with added character in them — check out that strip of red light piercing through the trunk lid.

Inside, it carries a more straightforward approach with fewer frills and decorations. There’s a floating touch display right at the center and a simple layout for the climate control’s buttons and knobs right under it. A tri-spoke steering wheel is then mounted with buttons for media navigation and cruise control.

The top of the line variants get leather seats, an eight-way power-adjustable seat for the driver, reverse camera, and parking sensors.

It’s also got a lower center of gravity so you feel more confident taking on curves with a bit of speed. And in order to further improve visibility for the driver, the windshield has been increased and the A-pillars were made slimmer.

For a Corolla Altis with an internal combustion engine, it gets a 1.6-liter Dual VVT-i engine mated to either CVT or a six-speed manual transmission. If you’re choosing the hybrid variant, however, you get a 1.8-liter engine and an electric motor. Combined, they have an output of 121 horsepower.

Focusing more on the 1.8 V Hybrid variant, it has a set of features that further improve safety for the everyone inside the vehicle. It boasts a pre-collision system, lane tracing assist, dynamic radar cruise control, and more using a camera mounted at the top of its windshield.

It also comes with different driving modes like Eco, Normal, Sport, and EV that makes it run purely on electricity.

Pricing for the new Corolla Altis follows:

  • 1.6 E MT — PhP 999,000
  • 1.6 G MT —  PhP 1,045,000
  • 1.6 G AT — PhP 1,115,000
  • 1.6 V CVT — PhP 1,185,000
  • 1.8 V Hybrid CVT — PhP 1,580,000

The lineup is available in different colors, namely: Attitude Black, Red Mica Metallic, Silver Metallic, Freedom White (for G and E variants), Celestite Grey Metallic (for HEV, V, and G variants), and White Pearl (for HEV and V variants).

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Automotive

New Porsche Taycan perfectly merges latest tech and retro styling

An important milestone for the company

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Porsche has finally announced its first fully electric sports car.

Called the Porsche Taycan, its configuration and specs make it a competition to Tesla’s Model S although the new EV is far more expensive than Musk’s offerings. But while it features the latest tech, the Taycan still has that retro-ish look reminiscent of Porsche’s older models.


The stance, its slopes, and even accents remind us of the iconic Porsche 911. It has the familiar sloping hood with headlamps housed in a semi bulging design. According to the company, the driver will be seated with a low center of gravity — achieving that performance vehicle orientation.

Available in two variants, the Taycan Turbo and Taycan Turbo S run on a dual electric motor setup that outputs an equivalent of 616 horsepower in the combustion world.

If that doesn’t impress you, both models have a ‘launch control’ mode that ups the ante to 670 horsepower for the Taycan Turbo and 750 horsepower for the Turbo S. This makes it possible for the Taycan Turbo to go from 0-60mph in three seconds and the Taycan Turbo S in just 2.6 seconds.

A 93kWh battery pack powers both models and the company says it is able to sustain power for extended periods of time without overheating the battery pack.

In terms of range, it was mentioned that it could go as far as 280 miles or around 450 kilometers before needing to plug in the vehicle. Charging is also one of their main highlights as the Taycan can be charged from 5 percent to 80 percent in under 23 minutes.

This is made possible via an 800-volt charging technology from Porsche which makes it sound like you’re simply filling up a smartphone’s battery.

The launch of the Porsche Taycan signifies a few things for the automotive industry. One is that Tesla now has a newfound competitor in terms of performance, at least (Model S is still significantly cheaper).

Another thing is that electric vehicles are really the future of mobility and we’re sure that more and more manufacturers will be coming out with their own electrified offerings in just a few years’ time.

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