Bhargav TS took the new Terrano for a spin in a picturesque Rajasthan city to evaluate its performance under a variety of operating conditions
Compact SUVs are currently the key drivers of the Indian auto industry. The SUV segment in India is growing rapidly and vehicle manufacturers are gearing up for this sudden shift in customer preferences. In the last one year, one could see SUVs changing the fortunes of a few automakers. In 2012, French auto major Renault, launched its SUV, Duster, which was a clear winner in that segment and still is, as it continues to sell 5000 cars a month on an average. Now, its alliance partner, Nissan, has re-badged the Duster as Terrano in a bid to replicate the former’s success and create an identity for itself in India.
Design & engineering
Unlike other badge-engineered products like Renault’s Scala and Pulse, which are Sunny and Micra respectively in the Nissan stable with a few add-ons, the Terrano comes with more significant exterior changes, which could work in its favour. In the case of the Terrano, Nissan engineers have changed almost every inch of sheet metal and worked hard to bring the styling more in line with the other SUVs in the Nissan family.
The Terrano gets a new nose with the distinctive Nissan grille inspired by its larger Pathfinder SUV sold globally. New character lines on the bonnet is a revised V-shaped bonnet that integrates nicely with the new Nissan family, all-new headlamps look
quite striking, and the re-sculpted single-colour front bumper also looks a lot sharper with more detailing around the fog lamps. While looking at the side, the door panels are rounded with the new crease running along the side and the Terrano’s B and C pillars are blacked out. A stylish split tail lamp at the rear further differentiates the Terrano from its elder cousin.
Nissan’s product development team has put on extra efforts to make the car more premium and stylish. Stepping inside, the Terrano feels more premium because of its beige interiors and two-tone dashboard with chrome surrounds for AC vents, which are now squared off. The storage space on top of the dash comes with a lid and a new steering wheel with silver finish inserts. The base XE trim comes with black interior, while the rest get beige interior. In the door trims, the faux wood gets a darker grey shade and looks much classic. The dashboard is clutter-free and the audio system is new and comes with a CD player, aux-in, USB and Bluetooth mobile connectivity as well. Interestingly, the steering-mounted audio controls found on the Duster are not to be seen on the Terrano.
The equipment levels on the Terrano are good as you also get ABS with brake assist and EBD, dual front Airbags, rear de-fogger, rear wiper and washer, rear parking sensors and electrically adjustable ORVMs. The mirror control knob is carried forward from the Duster and positioned below the handbrake lever. Nissan has
untouched the cabin space and the seats are identical to the Duster with reasonable room for three passengers to be comfortable in the rear and a very generous boot space of 475 litres and this is increased to 1064 litres once the rear seats are folded.
While changing the body panels, the company has also gone a step ahead and reduced the entire weight of the vehicle by 500 kg. This directly translates into better fuel efficiency and has good NVH and there was a big reduction in noise when the doors are closed. During the long drives, absence of dead pedal to rest your foot hurts and even with the seat height lowered, there is not much space between your knees and steering wheel – an issue noticed in the Duster also.
Like the Duster, the Terrano also comes in three engine options; two 1.5L diesels and one 1.6L petrol. Both the diesel variants have the same engine, albeit running in different states of tune. The 84 BHP 1.5L engine has a fixed geometry turbo while the higher powered 109 BHP diesel gets a variable geometry unit. Nevertheless, the engine is an acknowledged workhorse known for its durability and high fuel efficiency.
On a media drive in Udaipur, initially we drove the top spec, 110 PS engine that 109 BHP (@ 3,900 rpm) and 248 Nm of max torque (@ 2,250 rpm), which is mated to a six speed manual transmission. It pulls well in the mid range but initially there is a bit of turbo lag and once the engine settles down, the Terrano finds its way easily. At higher RPM, it is far more refined and it’s sufficiently smooth and at cruising speeds, passengers won’t even know there is a diesel motor under the hood. But it was really painful to drive around the city at low speeds in 2nd gear and the only solution was to downshift to 1st gear. On the highway, the performance was noticeably superior. On tight and twisty hill sections, the performance of Terrano 110 PS was noticeable, because you have to contend with turbo lag.
Driving the 84 BHP Terrano offered far superior driveability in city condition. Mated to the 85 PS engine is a 5-speed manual gearbox with perfect ratios for city driving conditions. Engine response is good and it gets into the act. Performance is completely satisfactory up to 120-130 kph, only after which power delivery starts tapering off.
The suspensions are well balanced and provide excellent comfort both at highway speeds and city conditions. It absorbs the mild bumps while the big potholes just penetrate thuds inside the cabin keeping the body movement well under control but there is a certain amount of stiffness felt, but its well within acceptable limits. The front wheel drive set up gives a car-like dynamics and this, along with the monocoque body construction, makes the Terrano very car-like to drive. The NVH levels are good and engine noise is kept well under control but wind and tyre noise is audible.
Overall, Terrano looks more premium and fresh, but its success in the market will depend on its pricing. There’s no doubt the Nissan Terrano looks more upmarket than the Duster, but the premium pricing of Rs 50,000 to Rs 75,000 would be a point to ponder. In fact, it would be the key challenge for Nissan Motor India to convince customers.
Leave a Reply