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Driving from Metro Manila to Albay with the Nissan Kicks

It can make the one-way journey with enough fuel left to explore the destination

What better way to experience a car than a long drive? PHOTO BY SAM SURLA

When I first heard about Nissan‘s e-Power technology, I thought it was an oxymoron to have an electric motor powered by a gasoline engine. After all, aren’t electric vehicles supposed to have zero emissions?

Within the city, I minimize using my car, opting for a bicycle instead. However, going somewhere as far as Misibis Bay from Metro Manila gave me the opportunity to experience and appreciate the powertrain.

There's no need to worry about charging stations since the engine tops up the battery. PHOTO BY LEANDRO MANGUBAT

By leaving the propulsion exclusively to the electric motor, the internal-combustion engine doesn’t idle when the car is stationary, and it always runs at its optimal speed. So not only is this significantly more efficient, but there’s also the benefit of instant acceleration thanks to the electric drive.

Seeing the Nissan Kicks for the first time, I was pleasantly surprised for it wasn’t trying to look like an oversized SUV but was a modestly sized subcompact crossover. In spite of that, the interior was spacious enough for me, our managing editor, and our luggage, which fit nicely in the trunk.

At around 2am, we had the Skyway and the SLEX all to ourselves. PHOTO BY LEANDRO MANGUBAT

The resort is around 468km away from the meeting point at Caltex in Mamplasan, which is why the call time was 3am. Upon arriving at SLEX, the roads were clear all the way until the station where all the Kicks units were lined up.

Nissan Philippines president Juan Manuel Hoyos was busy in front of the camera first thing in the morning. PHOTO BY LEANDRO MANGUBAT

It was so early in the morning yet everyone was already busy recording and filming content. I just wanted to eat to prepare for my most grueling drive so far.

Breakfast at Daph's in Plaridel, Quezon. PHOTO BY LEANDRO MANGUBAT

I normally think of electric vehicles as high-end models, but this wasn’t the case with the Kicks. In the first place, e-Power cars are technically hybrid electric vehicles that are purely motor-driven.

The car is well-featured without being overly complicated and luxurious. The infotainment system has smartphone integration for both Apple and Android phones. It was my first time using Android Auto, but it didn’t give me a headache because I just had to plug in my phone to use it. There also was a 360° camera that made parking and squeezing through tight spaces much easier.

A convoy of 15 white Nissan Kicks must've been quite the sight to the locals. PHOTO BY LEANDRO MANGUBAT

Since my companion had already experienced the Kicks on several occasions, he drove the first leg. Once it was my turn, setting up the cockpit was easy. I was glad the seat adjustment and the door locks weren’t completely electronic, so there are fewer things to fail in the long run.

Always exercise caution when traversing provincial roads. PHOTO BY LEANDRO MANGUBAT

Overtaking is one of the biggest challenges for me when driving on rural highways since the roads are usually two lanes only with counterflowing traffic on the other side. Timing is key because the coast wasn’t always clear.

Thankfully, the lead car of the convoy gave directions so everyone could get to Misibis Bay safely. With the electric motor, the Kicks had the acceleration and the speed needed to overtake slower-moving vehicles.

I didn’t have to step on the brakes as often since the e-Pedal Step functionality wasn’t just slowing down the car, but also harvesting energy for the battery. Even without regard for fuel efficiency, I still managed to achieve 18km/L, which is double that of my personal Toyota Wigo.

The night drive along the tight and twisty roads leading to Misibis Bay was epic. PHOTO BY SAM SURLA

The most memorable part of the drive was where I was driving at Misibis in the rain at night, with only the lights of the other cars illuminating the way.

The roads were narrow and winding with drastic elevation changes reminding me of Initial D. In spite of the steep inclines, the Kicks didn’t lack the performance to muscle through them.

The author started the day with a morning walk around the resort. PHOTO BY LEANDRO MANGUBAT

After arriving at the resort, I was too tired to bother with dinner, eating only to avoid hunger later in the night. Given the weather on the first day, I was surprised to see the sunrise with a clear sky, and hoped the weather would remain like that for the rest of the day.

The moment Mayon Volcano was spotted, the author knew he had to get a photo with it. PHOTO BY LEANDRO MANGUBAT

Having arrived in Misibis at night, I didn’t have a visual of the landscape of the area. That’s why Sam and I were surprised to see Mayon Volcano while out scouting for shooting locations. After he got the shots he needed for his articles, we headed back to the resort for lunch.

Exploring Misibis felt like an open-world game. PHOTO BY LEANDRO MANGUBAT

I wasn’t happy with my photos, so I took the car out myself and explored some more. There was a nearby chapel at the top of Cagraray Eco-Energy Park, so I paid it a visit.

Turns out it wasn’t the best spot for photos, but I saw a pier from above so I tried to figure out how to get there. I wasn’t sure about the path because it was narrow and rough, so I trod carefully.

At the end of the day, a dinner was held complete with a program and a message from the president. PHOTO BY LEANDRO MANGUBAT

Later in the afternoon, the weather got cloudy so I accepted the fact I wasn’t going to have a picturesque sunset. Instead, I enjoyed the rest of the time just driving on the nearby roads. I even spotted Juan Manuel Hoyos (the president of Nissan Philippines) standing on a bridge perhaps admiring the beautiful scenery.

The weather was clear and pleasant for the drive back home. PHOTO BY LEANDRO MANGUBAT

With the long drive home the following day, I thought I was done taking photos, but that wasn’t the case as the convoy passed by a different route that brought the group closer to Mayon.

Not wanting to get home too late, we broke off from the convoy and went home ahead. Thankfully, everyone got home safely after the arduous journey.

The journey back was just as scenic as the one going to Misibis Bay. PHOTO BY LEANDRO MANGUBAT

In the end, I was impressed with the Nissan Kicks for being fuel-efficient, well-featured and comfortable, while being affordable for a hybrid. New cars usually don’t excite me, but this makes me look forward to the future of Nissan and e-Power.

Leandro Mangubat

Leandro is our staff writer. Although having a background in mechanical engineering, he enjoys photography and writing more.