Terrano might just be the ace up Nissan’s sleeve
(Any opinions expressed here are those of the author and not of Thomson Reuters)
I could have said the Terrano — Nissan’s compact SUV — is a glorified and beautified Renault Duster, but Nissan isn’t silly to invest money and effort to market a product already in the market.
The Terrano gets the distinctive front grille treatment of a Nissan SUV. When you walk around to the rear, you will see that the tail lamps extend into the hatch — a departure from the now familiar look of the Duster — which helps conceal its mass and heaviness. The bumpers have also been changed to give the Terrano a bit more up-market appeal. Judging by its looks, the Terrano looks a lot more modern and aggressive while the Duster is rather plain.
Engineers at Nissan have tried to give the cabin a new look, but it’s not really revolutionary. The audio head unit is different though, and the one in the Terrano trumps the Duster version. The steering wheel has been changed and the rectangular air-conditioning vents in the centre of the dashboard look much better.
Unfortunately, the column-mounted audio-and-phone control unit is no longer there. Yes, it has an odd location behind the steering in the Duster but it was intuitive to operate once you got used to it. Also, the control knob for rear-view mirrors remains under the hand brake lever — which seems silly.
I don’t really talk about looks and design as what seems attractive to me could, quite possibly, seem ungainly to you. The question is — is the Terrano as good as the Duster on the road? The answer is yes. In fact, the experience is slightly better, and that’s a great compliment for the Terrano.
The suspension goes well with Indian roads, absorbing the biggest of potholes with ease. The handling is crisp, although it has a slight tendency to understeer and exhibits a little body roll.
There are two engines on offer — 1.6-litre petrol and 1.5-litre diesel — and the diesel one has two power variants. I don’t think the petrol version will do well as Indians don’t really accept a petrol engine in an SUV. That said, the 103 bhp engine felt quite refined and revved freely. But the Terrano is more about the diesel engine that it shares with the Duster — the 1.5-litre dCi.
The 84 bhp version felt good and light at lower revs and it’s got a potent mid-range too. The torque is spread across the rev range in an extremely linear manner and the gear ratios are well matched to the engine. The clutch is light but the gearshift, though progressive, is a bit notchy. It doesn’t feel great when shifting this 5-speed affair through the cogs in a hurry. This engine runs out of steam at high revs — but then that’s not what it’s made for. Its USP lies in the low-to-mid range.
The 103 bhp, 248 Nm version would be my choice for long drives. Get the needle past 2000 rpm and the engine suddenly wakes up from its sleep. The gearshift has got a delightful 6-speed manual.
To sum up, the Terrano is a better Duster and that’s a great thing because, in my book, the Duster was always quite an impressive machine. I like it more than even the Ford EcoSport. The Terrano is better on refinement as well as noise, vibration and harshness (NVH) levels, looks much better and has slightly more pleasing interiors. It will be a lovely deal if Nissan gets the pricing right.
(You can follow Ashish on Twitter @jha_ashish)