Nissan Way

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That’s a street in Franklin, Tennessee, not a philosophy. Good to his word from when I accosted him at the New York auto show Senior Manager of Nissan Brand Communications, Dan Passe took me out to lunch when I passed near Nissan USA headquarters. He brought along Phil Lienert and Steve Yaeger, who work on PR for SUVs/trucks and racing, respectively. Phil secured a not yet released Nismo Juke. Besides the obvious cosmetic changes to make the Juke, um, less subtle, there’s performance and handling tweaks – over 100 new parts – and they squeezed 9 more hp from the turbo. There’s not much to compare it with as there are no other race tuned, front drive, turbo fours with a manual transmission with this type of ground clearance, room and command driving position. Clearly, nothing looks like it. Of course I was excited to test their latest performance product but I just sat in the passenger seat as we drove 0.3 miles to the restaurant. It’s a funky and fun ride.

I was more than a little nervous meeting these guys and started blurting out things about how gay people like to drive and “we” buy cars and Nissan should be more gay. Not in an articulate way either, I just stammered and kept saying the word gay then I would forget what I was trying to say and just went silent. I’m sure Phil was wishing the Juke had a passenger eject button at that point. But once we settled in to lunch, I calmed down. These are a bunch of car guys who just like talking about cars. Turns out Dan is from Long Island 10 minutes down the road from where I grew up, Phil just moved to Tennessee from Greenpoint in Brooklyn, just down the road from where I live now. And Steve, the racing guy, drives a Nissan Leaf all electric car. He’s the first person I’ve met who doesn’t buy gasoline anymore.

Below is a pile of Leafs. Leaves?

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