When I got a vaguely worded invite from the guys at Nissan to come join them for what was just described as a “Nissan Experience”, I sat on it for a while before deciding whether I will walk into this unknown. Throughout this time though, the word Gerotek, SA’s foremost vehicle testing grounds and venue for this “experience”, kept playing at the back of my mind. So, eventually I lived up to my nickname and my curiosity about the chosen venue got the better of me, and off I went.
When I arrived at Gerotek, just outside Pretoria, they made us sign numerous indemnity forms – basically signing our lives away. I got a bit worried at this point, but my more experienced colleagues in the media space assured me that it’s a good thing because it means we are in for some thrills and spills that Nissan doesn’t want to be held liable for.
Well, they were spot on. There were thrills and spills alright, and the realisation that you don’t necessarily need laxatives to get a decent bowel movement in this world.
But before we could get to the now much anticipated Nissan Experience, there was first the mandatory presentation were Nissan announced that it captured 10% market share in South Africa in 2017, with passenger vehicle sales growing by 44% versus the previous year. In bakkies, Nissan took a share of 19.5%. Sales of Datsun, the group’s budget brand, rose to 1.3%, the highest for the brand in Mzansi since 1981.
Interestingly though, given the current economic climate, Nissan SA’s Corporate Affairs Director Wonga Mesatywa also mentioned Nissan’s small business incubation centre, which houses and develops small black-owned companies in the vehicle manufacturing value chain and buys. Nissan then, commendably, procures goods and services from these companies in the manufacture of their various product lines. Mzansi Life will be visiting the Nissan Incubation Centre in Rosslyn, Tshwane in the coming weeks and will report on what we saw.
But just as quickly as it started, the PowerPoint presentation came to an end, and the indemnity forms came into effect.
The vaguely described Nissan, as we came to learn at the event, comprised for three stages – the Nissan GT-R experience, Nissan Patrol off-road excursion, and the Nissan Navara Rally Navigation Stage.
Words don’t come close to describing what we experienced in this three-part thriller, suffice to say the Nissan GT-R, or giant slayer or Godzilla as it is sometimes known, is blistering fast, and at roughly R2.5 million remains the most affordable way to get the adrenalin rush one gets from driving a proper super car. Look out for yours truly’ s first GT-R experience next week when I post the video.
To calm the nerves, the next part of our Nissan journey was to experience the luxury and off-road capability of the colossal Nissan Patrol. Just to put into perspective the Nissan Patrol’s 4×4 abilities of the Nissan Patrol, my first time at Gerotek was when I visited the facility as a guest of Paramount Group, who took members of the press to the Tshwane facility to demonstrate their Marauder personnel mover. The Nissan Patrol did pretty much everything the specialised Marauder did, but in sublime comfort and class. Aside from it’s drinking problem, the Nissan Patrol is a must have for any South African family that enjoys the great outdoors
The real surprise though, or system shocker, was the Nissan Navara Rally Stage experience. With a price tag of over R5 million a pop, the rally-specced Nissan Navaras proved to be the real bucket list items for all those in attendance, and the real reason we were made to sign those indemnity forms. As a navigator, one is required to look at the road and advice the driver on the various obstacles coming your way. Well, I’m here to tell you that not one of the guest navigators can claim that they did their job. Aside from praying furiously, everyone was useless as a navigator.
At the end of the day, I got a real appreciation of what was meant by the Nissan Experience. Look out for the various videos from our Nissan Experience in the coming weeks and decide for yourself if you want to be of the Nissan family with your next vehicle purchase.