As a follow-up to the launch of the X-Trail, Nissan gave members of the motoring media a chance to fully experience their new vehicle as they hosted a treasure hunt drive around the Calabarzon area.
This writer was paired with Dino Directo of the Manila Standard in car number 1. Before leaving the Nissan plant, we were able to go through the test track which involves humps and bumps, inclines and declines, acceleration and brake tests. This was sort of an introduction to what the X-Trail is capable of. Moreso, how to properly evaluate it.
We then took went through the back roads going to Tagaytay, the 'scenic route' so to speak. Little did we know, that we would be amazed by the scenic route which offered a lot of interesting sights. These sights were also part of the 'treasure hunt' which we all participated with much fun as we took photos of different sights where we took the X-Trail. First stop was a mountainside mansion of former strongman Ferdinand Marcos.
We then drove through a dirt road up the mountain leading to tarmac road leading up to the fabled Palace in the Sky which was one of the preludes to the end of the dictatorship. Through the road going there, we had a chance to see how the vehicle faired on dirt road compared to paved road. Surprisingly the combination of the suspension, drivetrain and tires was really good as it handled well even on dirt. Since it was now my first time to drive, I had a chace to feel the drive-by-wire accelerator of the X-Trail which felt really precise with every bit of pressure on the pedal.
From there, we drove down to the roads leading to Tagaytay with the Taal Volcano in the background. We took another 'scenic' route through the dumpsite of Tagaytay. Yes, there is indeed a part of Tagaytay where the air is not really fresh. It then led to another winding dirt road around the mountain which this writer had much delight in driving on. The road seemed endless but it soon revealed interesting sights as the seemingly small Taal Volcano became more visible and as we went further was a small fishing village set on the Taal lake popularly known for the delicious fish Tawilis.
As if it were not enough, we again went further to undending dirt roads with jumps and puddles again feeling like Rallye Pilipinas drivers (Yeah, in our dreams). It was Dino's turn at the fun this time as I was tasked to be navigator. The trail led out to the national highway which was a brief drive away from the Chateau Royale Forest Crest resort where we stopped for lunch and Koi (carp) feeding.
A specially designed torture track was prepared for the X-Trail to take it to the limits. A series of off-road obstacles which included craters, humps, bumps, inclines which were all concluded by a splashpit.
The course tested the vehicle's drivetrain system showing what just the 2-wheel drive mode could do and the advantage you would get when you switch to 4-wheel mode. The short series of craters, humps and bumps tested the durability of the vehicle, the performance and comfort of the suspension system. The track's inclines also tested the 4-wheel drive system which harmoniously worked with the engine which delivered the much needed torque for the job. Each driver of course had fun in splashing away as they ended their own test.
After the test drive, we again headed back to Forest Crest for some games. First up was paintball target shooting, where many planned on joining until we were all greeted by a huge downpour. Thinking it wasn't that bad, two brave souls went through the downpour (this author and Aris Ilagan of the Manila Bulletin) to try to best each other in a game of shooting. It ended a tie and we headed back to the clubhouse. Ironically, the rain stopped as we reached the clubhouse. After taking a much needed rest from a long day of activities, we went on our way to the Caylabne Bay resort.
On the road, we were greeted again by the horrendous rain, this time it did not let off that easy. A moment not too soon, night started to fall as we continued driving on with lights on. We continued to drive again on seemingly uneding roads. This trail uncovered more surprises as we were greeted by fog as we went up the mountain roads leading to the resort. Upon reaching our destination was a sigh of relief. Surprisingly, I wanted to drive some more, because it made a long drive less of a chore but a comfortable driving experience.
All-in-all, the drive was probably one of the most extreme test drives as we did get to test the vehicle in varying conditions literally. We drove through daytime dry and wet weather conditions and drove in foggy night-time wet conditions.