Unbound and Out of bounds: Nissan Zambales Adventure with the Navara and Terra – Feature

When it comes to media drives Nissan tends to “push the boat out”, pushing the media and their cars to the limit. However, the latest media drive was one of the most memorable.

Let me tell you about the “Nissan Unbound Drive”.

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Nissan Unbound Day 1

All participants met up at the inhuman hour of 4:00 am in Nissan North Edsa, where we would get our Overland Kings kitted vehicles. I was assigned an almost new white Navara Pro-4X along with my drive companion Doc RM of Riding in Tandem fame.

Nissan Navara Pro 4x Terra Drive 2

We peeled out of the dealership and cruised our way through NLEX at a very relaxed pace. I have to point out that I’m not a big fan of pickup trucks, but the Nissan Navara Pro-4x with zero gravity seats and coil springs impressed me on the highway. I was the passenger for this first part of the journey and despite the All-terrain tires the ride of the Navara was so much more comfortable compared to others, it is a noticeable difference.

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We breezed through the highways of the north and exited in Tarlac, we then navigated the early morning rush of the province to make our way to our first stop; breakfast with a Mayor at his quaint farmhouse. It was during breakfast that we were given the lowdown on the first surprise of this drive.

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Daang Kalikasan is a road that connects two provinces (Pangasinan, and Zambales), and ever since it was announced I’ve been longing to drive there because it promised to be an epic driving road with even better views. Nissan was able to secure a permit so that we would drive through it, the road isn’t finished yet.

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The announcement shook me from my sleepy state and reignited my energy, I took the wheel from my companion and a short drive led us to my dream road, and boy did it not disappoint.

Nissan Navara Pro 4x Terra Drive

Almost immediately the road became twisty and technical, and the Nissan Navara was surprisingly but thankfully able to show some dynamic tendencies despite being a 4×4 pickup with a tent on the roof. It was light and somehow engaging for something meant to climb not carve mountains.

I particularly liked the tuning of the engine and the transmission, with 190 Ps on tap and 7-speed automatic it was responsive. I never lost steam on inclines and a slight increase in throttle pressure was enough to get the transmission to kick down a gear. I was impressed with how lively the Navara was despite the weight, and age of the platform and powertrain.

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After some photos at the view deck, we made our way deeper into the road, and the views just kept getting better and better. Around us were the lush greenery of the mountains, hills, valleys, and the occasional glimpse of the sea in the distance. We were asked to lessen the air in our tires for the offroad part, doing this allows for more contact patches between the tires and the road surface allowing for more traction.

Nissan Navara Pro 4x Terra Drive

We were released in intervals of 30 seconds because the surface was red clay and the dust cloud the vehicles kicked up created zero visibility conditions for those following. I have to admit that I’m not used to driving quickly off-road, so having to navigate foreign territory with these types of conditions challenged me. The Navara however felt right at home, barely putting a foot wrong and just kept trucking along the non-existent road over rocks, deep ruts and holes, and the occasional water crossing.

Nissan Navara Pro 4x Terra Drive

I was both in awe at the surroundings and the Navara at the same time, after awhile I was confident enough to push the pace and I have to say even when there was no road, the seats and the suspension of the Navara were miles more comfortable than I was expecting.

After what seemed like an eternity, we were finally at Zambales and we drove on towards our stop for the day at Crystal Beach. We stopped for a brief lunch break and my fellow participants much like me were raving about having driven on Daang Kalikasan, it truly was one for the books.

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We arrived at our overnight stop in Crystal Beach at around 4-5 pm, the beachfront was set up camping style featuring tents for hanging out and even famous chef JP of Sarsa restaurant was there to cook us amazing grub.

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While we cooled down with refreshments and merianda, the organizers quickly deployed our Overland Kings camping equipment. Each vehicle in the convoy featured a tent for the media to sleep in. I had a top tent that was placed above the Nissan Navara, which according to them had a memory foam floor. I am not an outdoorsman by any measure, and up until this point, I refused to believe that I was going to sleep in a tent that night but after dinner and a decent number of alcoholic drinks, I clambered up the ladder to the tent. I was happily greeted by a small electric fan, a pillow, and a blanket which added to the general comfort of the experience, I was out like a light in a matter of seconds because the serene tranquility of the area helped calm my mind down.

Nissan Navara Pro 4x Terra Drive

Day 2

I woke up the next day feeling refreshed and ready for what I assumed at the time was going to be a relaxing day, I was wrong. After we all freshened up and had breakfast made by the very famous chef we were briefed on the day’s activities. Day 2 was set to be even more intense and featured off-roading on the soft Zamabales beach sand and Lahar bed. First, we were supposed to drive a few kilometers up the beachfront for a photo op, It was supposed to be a 10-minute exercise that turned into a 30-minute one as some media struggled with the soft sand and beached (pun intended) their cars blocking the rest of the convoy.

Nissan Navara Pro 4x Terra Drive

We then went a few kilometers outside of Crystal Beach to the Lahar bed for the final activity. We were divided into 3 teams, and each team was supposed to collect 5 orange cones that were scattered around the area. Seems simple right? wrong. The Lahar bed was at least 3 kilometers long and about 1-2 kilometers wide, filled with soft sand, hard sand, and other unknown quantities. We had 15 minutes to collect all the cones and make our way back to the bridge.

I was in group 1 and after a few minutes of strategizing we prepared ourselves for the go signal. I was extremely nervous as a novice off-roader, made even more nervous by the fact that I was the only one in the group that had all-terrain tires which meant that I would have to go the furthest distance to ensure we got all cones.

Nissan Navara Pro 4x Terra Drive

We set off gingerly but purposely through the sand and already the Navara was showing just what it was made of, the sheer ability of this truck astounded me as it took on extreme conditions as we drove through the sand at around 60-70 kph. We reached the furthest cone in what was the softest sand in the area, the moment my companion alighted and I stopped, the Navara sank into the sand.

We used teamwork and the lessons taught to us by the experts to get unstuck and we barreled our way back to the bridge, jumping, flying, and speeding through the sand. Our team managed to do it in around 10 minutes setting a pretty decent bar for the next teams. After everyone had done the game, we were awarded the fastest time.

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To the limit

After lunch, we all made our way back to Manila, and on the drive back I was thinking about how best to summarize the whole experience. I have to say that despite being just a one-day media drive this was one of the most amazing drives I’ve attended. Nobody expected to do what we were asked to do, let alone the vehicles that we had.

I tend to forget the vehicles I drive during these trips but the Navara had grown on me so much so that I offered to buy my unit on the spot. Not once did the Nissan Navara Pro-4X put me in a compromising position, it helped me become a better off-road driver and even persevered when we got stuck.

I couldn’t have asked for more during this trip, amazing destinations, engaging activities, good food, good company, and most importantly an excellent vehicle.

Pablo Salapantan

Pablo Salapantan

Pablo's first word was probably "Car", and this has developed into a personal passion that has consumed his professional life as well.

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