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Diahatsu Terios

Broadcast date : 9th July 2006

Bigger, wider more powerful. Thatís what happens to most small cars when they evolve and the Daihatsu Terios, that modestly-powered and willowy upright little SUV has evolved in the same way.

Itís grown wider shoulders, the wheel arch extensions have been beefed out in power-suit fashion and, talking of power, the engine has jumped a category from the previous 1300 cc sizing to a 1500 cc.

Itís still no pocket rocket, especially in four-speed automatic guise, which, for some reason, was the model offered to us for test. 

We werenít expecting much when we handed it over to Clint for a workout at the Zwartkops off-road track

A torque peak of 140 Newton metres, and a maximum power output of 77 kilowatts is not bad for a 1,5 litre, but on the highway haul to Zwartkops the long stroke engine was harsh as it kicked down a ratio on the four-speed auto.

The Terios has a large body to move around and 0-100 takes about 16 seconds, although once up to speed it will cruise along at an indicated 140 km/h with a claimed top speed of 150 km/h.

Itís also available as a 4x2 manual or a 4x4 manual, which would have been our choice. 

But straightaway on the medium-challenge Zwartkops off-road course, the automatic Terios was impressing Clint with its agility.

The Terios is fitted with a lower first gear than normal for off-roading, to compensate for the fact that it doesnít have a low-range transfer case. With the diff-lock selected Clint negotiated one of Zwartkops steeper, slippery slopes at slow speed and was surprised at the climbing ability

The ground clearance is rated at a middling 200 millimetres, but the advantage is that thereís no intrusive diff housing hanging down to be snagged. The short wheelbase counts for a lot in clearing obstacles when rocks are followed by potholes or ditches.

That "donkey gear" helps when going down hill, although first prize for running down steep rocky slopes would be low range and manual transmission. The Terios is well sorted, given its modest specification. Suspension travel isnít great, but again the diminutive size of the Terios counts.

One advantage of the rather basic automatic is that its torque converter introduces the necessary slippage to increase revs and power, even with an overly cautious approach speed.

A nice weekend toy this, and with definite Toyota influence in the cabin design. Fit and finish is good, although we found the silver console and door handles cheapened the overall effect.

Four to five adults can travel in reasonable comfort and prices range from just under R170 000 for the 4x2, to R185 000 for the 4x4 auto. Clint thinks it makes off-road sense.

Yes, the Terios has taken a big step forward in its second-generation form. Looks-wise it can now stand alongside the likes of the RAV4 with a fair degree of purpose to its appearance, and this is matched by its performance.

We would definitely go for the manual version as the auto is too thrashy and slow in traffic. But if speed isnít important to you, not a bad deal at all.

Diahatsu Terios
  • Engine: Four-cylinder petrol 1 495cc
  • Power: 77 kW @ 6 000 rpm
  • Torque: 140 Nm @ 4 400 rpm
  • Transmission: Four-speed automatic, all-wheel-drive
  • 0-100 km/h: 14,0 seconds (claimed)
  • Top speed: 150 km/h (claimed)
  • Fuel consumption: 9,0 litres/100 km (claimed)
  • Price: R184 995
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