Nissan Challenge : Day 2
View Day 2 : Nairobi – Meru – Nyahururu in a larger map
First thing Tuesday morning we were up bright and early at College house. The crew had worked together for one day, names were getting put to faces so there was no more “nani” or “that guy” over the radio. Atoti fell in behind the Nissan NP300 One Tonne Pickup as we began to form a convoy, she was driven by renowed motor journalist, Mike Mwai.
The producer decided to do some shooting on Mombasa Road, luckily most of the traffic was coming into town, not getting out, so the “Superhuawei” was clear.
We headed off to Blueposts hotel to have breakfast where it was decided to take some footage of the pick-up crossing the bridge above the waterfall. The box barely made it under the barrier, but it was fine, had a few inches to spare.
We had a roadshow and a lunch event in Meru so the DT Dobie staff told us to get moving!!
We had one more shot of us hiding in a maize field before we powered on to Meru. We got to Meru just in time for the roadshow, got to meet the Mayor and some celebrity Miraa drivers.
After the event in Meru we got to do some serious driving.
The 1-tonne has the same engine as the 14 seater matatus we see all over, it does have a fair bit of acceleration. The gearbox is a good solid one, you get swift, sure gear changes.
What was surprising, was that the handling wasn’t too bad, I wouldn’t race with it, but I must say the chase cars had to work to keep up with me once we got to the hills at Embu, I know the road like that back of my hand and when you put your foot down in third, the car will go up hills without much fuss.
The cabin, well, the seat was effectively a bench. I’ve spoken to some people who drive this pick-up on a daily basis and they tell me its firm in the beginning as it is new, but with time the seat adjusts to the shape of your body, then, they say, you’re fine. The pickup comes with a CD player with MP3 capabilities, but that’s as far as it goes in terms of luxury. A/C is available as an option but that’s about it. After a day in Atoti, the contrast was very clear.
What’s important in a car like this is load capacity and reliability. The NP300 handles it very well. And with the same engine used by Matatus, it just doesn’t break down! Matatus are effectively driven 18 hours a day, 8 days a week, serviced on an irregular basis using fake parts and they keep on going.
The thing is reliable. To transport important loads day in, day out, I’d take reliable over comfort. The fact that matatus use the same engine also means that you can find both parts and “a guy” in the unfortunate event something goes wrong almost anywhere you are in Kenya.