Revisiting the Nissan Kicks with a one tank challenge around the Bataan Loop

The last time I drove the Nissan Kicks it was during our whole day one full tank challenge wherein we drove from Pasig-Tanay-Subic-Tagaytay and back without refueling. The idea was a success and my team and I were able to make it to the end of the day with still a sizeable amount of fuel left in the tank.

Needless to say after spending a whole day driving the car, I felt it was time for a break from the Nissan Kicks, I felt that I didn’t need to see or drive another Kicks because I’d done all I could do with it.

Nissan Kicks eco run inline

Nissan Kicks One Tank Challenge Bataan loop

I was wrong, a couple of my motoring friends and I boastfully approached the Nissan team during an overnight media outing saying how we could recreate my one-tank challenge but with more cars and drivers, stating that there would also be a few challenges along the way.

Being quite the young group that we are, we thought we would be taken as seriously as when a toddler declares ‘they’re running away’, but lo and behold a few days after that event we were contacted by the brand to start planning the new challenge… Be careful what you wish for.

After a few weeks of planning and finalizing, we were able to narrow down the challenge to 3 Nissan Kicks VL models each with 3 team members per car. Each car would be topped up to the brim at the same time in the same gas station and would be driving the same route. The route in question is the Bataan loop, famous for its nearly deserted twisty roads accompanied by fantastic vistas all around.

It seemed simple enough, drive as fuel efficient as possible with teamwork and camaraderie as top priorities, and almost immediately after setting off both things were completely thrown out the window.

Nissan Kicks eco run inline

Day 1

We were greeted by the dreary rainy and stormy Philippine weather, making the meet-up time of 6 a.m. in Petron Marilao almost impossible to achieve. After a quick stop at Petron to refuel ourselves and the cars, the challenge and the mind games began each team huddling like sports players drawing up their next play, hunched over while peering suspiciously at the other teams.

We then set off for the drive itself (which to onlookers probably looked like the slowest start to a challenge ever), and the 2 Nissan Kicks ahead of mine and Kyle Liong of Kyle Liong Cars built up some considerable speed on the highway, we on the other hand decided to hang back and putter at a leisurely (but still safe and legal) 70-80 kph for optimal fuel economy.

Nissan Kicks eco run inline

We eventually were left behind so much that we could no longer hear the other cars on our radio, later on, we were wrongfully and slanderously accused of cheating during this period, they have no proof that their claims can be proven.

On NLEX in the pouring rain, the roads were very slick we managed to maintain decent speed, but because my carmate has basically no bladder he asked for a bathroom break, and we all reconvened at Petron Lakeshore. It was there that we saw our fellow competitors glaring at us, and after relieving ourselves we were scolded for holding up the convoy that included the support cars, and the production cars. In other words, we were driving too slow and at this rate, we’d hit our overnight stop by mid-November.

After some ‘choice’ words were exchanged between my team and the others, we reluctantly agreed to pick up the pace to 100kph in order to make the time up.

As we exited towards SCTEX bound for Subic our car was averaging 20 KM/L which is very good for any car particularly a hybrid because based on experience hybrids are least efficient on the highway because the engine is used more compared to city driving. SCTEX is actually an eco-minded driver’s worst nightmare because although traffic is light it cuts through some steep hills that require more throttle input. Thankfully, the Kicks has the e-pedal brake regeneration system, so downhill drives help convert braking power into battery power.

Nissan Kicks eco run inline

During the drive we would all be egging each other on, trying to get into each other’s heads by shouting indecent proposals over the radio much to the annoyance of the Nissan team who were trying to smoothly accompany this merry band of immature men. Nonetheless, when we arrived at our brunch stop in Xtremely Xpresso Subic we were famished but not the Nissan Kicks, so far from Petron Marilao to Subic we had only consumed 1 bar of fuel, and things were looking up for my team.

After another round of eating and insults, it was time to make our way toward Bataan through the Morong area, I was designated as the lead car for this part because I frequent the area. As we made our way to the backroads of Subic a problem presented itself, one of our carmates announced that he has motion sickness and the spiral roads of Bataan were inducing his condition.

With that, I decided to drive as smoothly as possible and thankfully the Nissan Kicks is a breeze to drive in most conditions, smooth power delivery, and decent handling, all played a part in keeping the interior of the Nissan Kicks vomit-free.

Nissan Kicks eco run inline

Our first ‘major’ attraction was the Japan-Philippines friendship tower, which someone in the group thought was fitting given that Nissan is a Japanese brand and that we’re in the Philippines (Big Whoop). The tower could easily be overlooked, but it was a welcome stop for our nearly-vomiting friend in the back. I switched driving duties with Kyle for a secret surprise route to a new attraction in Bataan.

We were led up a very narrow (but paved) road that given the weather made us feel like we were in a horror movie, we climbed up this ‘path’ and noticed the scenery decided to drastically change, it looked as though we were in England with brown and luscious green rolling hills coupled with fog and the occasional gusts of wind and rain. According to our guide, this place is known as Little Batanes, and perched atop the peak of the hill is a small rest area where we could pull over and appreciate the beauty of the northern landscapes.

Nissan Kicks Eco Run inline

Thankfully the rain let up a little and as we positioned our cars for the photo challenge, we got out of the cars to take the scenery in. 5 minutes later torrential rain and arctic cold winds forced us back into our cars, so much for a rest stop. We left Little Batanes hoping to make it to Mt. Samat before sundown, but because the roads were drenched and muddy our pace could be measured in calendar days.

Nissan Kicks eco run inline

We got out of the small road and onto the main road of the Bataan loop, where one rather impatient and eager team in an orange Nissan Kicks blasted past the rest of the convoy making me giggle as I watched them burn their fuel. By this time though all teams were considerably fatigued, damp, and in need of showers so the drive became less a fuel eco run but more of a ‘are we there yet?’ scenario.

Given that time was precious we needed to consistently be on the move, however weak bladders and motion sickness-stricken passengers made vomiting and bathroom stops mandatory along the loop. This doesn’t take away though from the beauty that is the Bataan loop, There was nearly no traffic at all so we were all able to enjoy the Nissan Kicks on this shoelace-twisty road complemented by fantastic views.

For those who love to drive a trip to this otherwise underrated route is a must, on the other hand wanted to get the heck out of dodge pining for hot showers and comfortable beds. Which we got 12 hours after we set off that morning.

Nissan Kicks eco run inline

Day 2

After everyone slept and missed breakfast, we set off for our final lunch stop in Clark, it would be there that we would refuel our cars and determine the winner of the eco-run challenge. With my team’s confidence at an all-time high, we peacefully made our way to Clark.

Upon arriving at the gas station, we were asked to top up with fuel one by one without us knowing how many liters were needed to reach the full tank once again. It was during our lunch break that it was revealed to us who won, with our nerves kept at bay the results were announced, and my team had won by the slimmest of margins. We traveled a total of 377 km and only needed 18 liters of fuel to reach the full tank.

Nissan Kicks eco run inline

Elated and triumphant my team celebrated the win, despite the sneers of our competitors. Kidding aside though what this revisit of the Nissan Kicks taught me is that a year later it is still such a good car. It provides the needed economy for money-conscious individuals but also enough dynamics to thrill those who seek speed, all without compromising space and comfort.

After a tiring and arduous journey fraught with friendships teetering on the brink of collapse, intermittent weather, and unknown roads I was left once again in awe of the Kicks and it’s capabilities, and I wasn’t alone despite our differences my fellow competitors agreed that we could all rally around the fact that the Nissan Kicks is a good as ever.

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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