From there, I wandered back for a little more “sensible” driving experience. Nissan had set up two options for driving most of the 60+ cars on hand, as follows:
Street Drive – For those who wanted a more intimate experience with certain vehicles, Nissan arranged the World Drive schedule. Participants could check out any of the three dozen US-spec Nissan or Infiniti vehicles for a 45 minute drive on some picturesque roads and on a winding route along a mountain ridge with plenty of panoramic views.
World Drive – Because some of the global vehicles couldn’t be driven on public roads in the US, Nissan constructed a special track that simulates real-world driving conditions. This track allowed room for full-throttle acceleration, as well as some tight chicanes, some high-speed sweepers, and a couple challenging hairpins.
In the interest of time, and because I wanted to experience as many vehicles as I could, I stuck to the World Drive track. Using the device we talked about earlier, I was able to reserve vehicles ahead of time, and could go from one to another, seamlessly. My focus was primarily on cars that aren’t available in the US, or ones that might be difficult to find at our local dealer. With that, here’s a list of MOST of the notable cars I drove:
Micra, Dayz Highway Star, Grand Livina, NISMO Juke, Maxima SV, Note (diesel 5-speed), Moco, Qashqai, Cube, Q50, Q70 long-wheelbase version, QX70, and many others. The Kei cars (Micra, Moco and Dayz) were playful, well-optioned, and great fun to drive, despite their modest horsepower. I especially enjoyed my time in the Micra, and I think it’s a car that could easily slot into the US market.
The NISMO Juke impressed me a lot more than the last couple Jukes I’d driven, and I especially liked the suede seating and steering wheel treatment.
The diesel Versa Note (with the 5-speed) was also a car I think would sell well in the US, and it was much more fun to drive than the US-spec Note.
The Maxima SV and I became good friends, and I went back for a second and third drive – it felt really ‘at home’ hustling through the chicanes, and the acceleration far exceeds expectations, especially for those of us who have known the VQ35 for over a decade.
The Q70 LWB hearkens back to the old Nissan President (Q45 in the US), and it’s simply an exercise in well-executed refinement, if perhaps somewhat excessive.
…and a few more:
I hope you guys enjoyed that part… Next time, I’m bringing an assistant, a couple GoPro cameras, and a voice recorder! Let’s head back inside for Nissan 360 – Part 12!