Culture > Diversion

You can test-drive the Nissan Sakura in virtual reality

Anime girls not included

How would you like to drive Nissan's latest EV? PHOTO FROM NISSAN

Remember Nissan‘s adorable Sakura electric vehicle? While lucky people in Japan are able to purchase the vehicle, this has left interested parties around the world empty-handed—unless you happen to own a Virtual Reality headset like an Oculus Quest 2 or a Valve Index.

It's a test-drive experience where you can eat and hang out (virtually). PHOTO FROM NISSAN

If that’s the case, you’ll be able to take the cute little car out for a test drive, regardless of where you live in the world.

All you’ll need (aside from the VR headset) is the free app called VRChat. In a nutshell, think of this application as a way to virtually socialize with people across the world while having an avatar of your own.

There are four seasons in the game. PHOTO FROM NISSAN

With the app running, you can search or log into the Nissan Sakura Driving Island world.

You will be transported to a little island that has Japan-themed elements, and four different seasonally themed regions with Easter eggs for one to discover. You could walk around the island, but of course, the main highlight is “driving” the Sakura itself, especially with other virtual friends.

There's a surprising amount of activities you can do aside from driving. PHOTO FROM NISSAN

You can interact with the doors, sit in the car, plug in the charger, and use the steering wheel. Other things like infotainment systems, turn signals, and lights won’t work, obviously. It’s a little janky, but the developers at Nissan put a lot of effort into making this experience run even on the untethered Quest 2 headset (which runs on mobile-phone guts, basically).

But once you get in and try it yourself (as I did), you will be able to get a sense of scale and see just how small the car is from the outside, how big the interior looks, and the vehicle’s driving position—especially if you’ve calibrated your headset to the proper height.

Soon, you won't need to leave the comfort of your home for the full dealership experience. PHOTO FROM NISSAN

With the “metaverse” and virtual reality coming into play as technology advances rapidly, it’s nice to see some manufacturers take advantage of experiences like this to revolutionize the process of selling a car. Just make sure that you aren’t susceptible to motion sickness before trying this out.

Sam Surla

Sam is the youngest member of our editorial team. And he is our managing editor (believe it or not). He specializes in photography and videography, but he also happens to like writing about cars a lot.