Powerful, fast, sporty: words rarely used to describe a pickup truck. However these are three simple words to define the Nissan Navara, which blurs the great divide between a sports utility vehicle and a pickup truck. To further prove its point, Universal Motors Corporation recently hosted the Navara Truck & Track Challenge where their "Best Pickup Line Ever" was put to the test on and off road with members of the motoring media, Navara owners and potential buyers as its critics.

For the uninitiated, here's the lowdown on the Navara. This truck is built on a strong platform starting with a 8-crossmember ladder frame and a rigid body construction that features Nissan's Zone Body Concept for added safety. The engine is a very capable 2.5-liter Commonrail Direct Injection Turbo Intercooler that can produce 144 PS and 174 PS (mid and high variants), mated to either a 5-Speed Automatic or a first in class 6-Speed Manual Transmission. For extended journeys it is also equipped with an 80-liter fuel tank. This is all packaged in a modern-styled exterior that stands tall and strong among its counterparts.

The mountainous Timberland Heights in San Mateo, Rizal was the venue for the rough team format challenge. I was fortunate to be teamed up with Champion Racecar Driver Mike Potenciano of Turbo Time Duo, Lindy Pellicer and Albert Morales of Filinvest Land. We were grouped as team M, also the last team on the list. The objective of the competition was to get a driving time record closest to the ideal set by the organizers.

The first challenge was the hillclimb run, which our ace driver Mike Potenciano finished flawlessly close to the specified time. This exercise put the engine performance capabilities of the Navara to test while showing its road holding characteristics as well.

The next and final challenge was an off-road challenge composed of a combination of downhill and uphill drive over a specially carved trail. Minor obstacles on the harsh trail tested the off-road capability and suspension performance for such surfaces. Yours truly captured the closest time, combined with the masterful drive by Mike Potenciano. This gave us a good standing in the finals, allowing us to bag 2nd place for which we took home nice prizes courtesy of Universal Motors Corporation.

In the end, the event was not just about the challenge, but a car launch as well as UMC took the opportunity to introduce the Navara Brute Dare Series, the newest member in the pick-up stable.

The Dare series is a stylized version of the Navara Brute; equipped with the same tough 8 crossmember ladder-frame, class leading 6-speed manual transmission, four-wheel drive, and 16-inch alloys among its features. In the powertrain department, the 4x4 Brute is equipped with the YD25DDTi Mid version, producing 144 PS. Being a stripped-down Navara variant, it is missing a Limited Slip Differential for serious off-road duties. Pricing for this car starts at Php1.125M.