First Drive - Nissan Terrano

30/09/2013 - 08:01 | ,  ,   | Shrawan Raja

We spent a day in Udaipur driving the 110PS diesel variant of the Nissan Terrano and here's the lowdown.

Nissan Terrano front view
If you are a fan of the Nissan Patrol or the find the Pathfinder good looking, the Terrano would be a hit with you.

Based on the Renault Duster platform, the Terrano was designed at Nissan's Yokohoma design studio in Japan and was developed at the Renault-Nissan technology centre in Chennai, India.

Nissan Terrano rear view
Split taillights, new bumper and a redesigned luggage door add individuality to the Terrano.

Up front, the headlight and grille have a wider aspect, and are influenced by the design of the Pathfinder and Patrol. The hood features a V-Shape cut that blends neatly with the chrome ornamentation on the radiator grille.

Nissan Terrano front three quarters flat ground
Nissan designers have made the Terrano look like a Nissan by doing everything within the budget.

The crease line on the reskinned door is moved closer to the running board, while the rear of the car bears a clearer distinction from the Duster featuring a two-pod stoplight that extends into the hatch and a redesigned registration plate enclosure flanked with a generous serving of chrome.

Nissan Terrano side view
Despite the new door panels, silver-colored roof rails, diamond-cut alloy wheels and black pillars, in profile the Duster's roots are instantly recognizable. We prefer the Terrano's side profile over the Duster's.

For Duster fans, the interior isn't new territory as the changes here are restricted to the colour interplay. The plastic trim on the doors are finished in a greyish brown colour, while the seats, upholstered with perforated leather, are in beige.

The central aircon vents are rectangular (as opposed to the Duster's circular design) and are treated to a tinge of chrome.

Nissan Terrano dashboard
The dashboard is also from the Duster save for the steering wheel and center stack elements.

The Terrano's driver seat is placed in a way that the hood fills up your lower line of sight. The position is comfortable and is mid-way between a city hatchback and an off-roader.

Nissan Terrano lacks a dead pedal
6th gear provided for highway cruising but why no dead pedal?

The front seats did not make for an uncomfortable travel for 6-footers though the under-thigh support could have been wider and longer. As the basic architecture is designed to a budget, the height-adjustment mechanism is a very simple and doesn't offer multiple height settings. The steering wheel is also just adjustable for rake.

Nissan Terrano central aircon vent
Nissan has replaced the circular air vents of the Duster with a rectangular design.

Being based on a low-cost Logan's underpinnings, one that has a notorious reputation for bad ergonomics, the Terrano shows an improvement, but still offers a lot to giggle at. The door mirror adjustment joystick feels stuck under the hand brake lever. The power window switches hang out oddly from the driver door. While resting the elbow on the rear arm rest, the power window switch is falsely operated.

Nissan Terrano external mirror adjustment knob
Poorly planned door mirror adjustment knob is placed beneath the handbrake.

The Terrano tries to comeback in this department showing its height adjustable front seatbelts, a floating horn and wiper nozzles that cover the entire windshield area, but the single-horn, a loose-fitting dashboard and lack of cup holders on the doors take us back to square one!

Nissan Terrano rear aircon vent
The direction of the throw cannot be adjusted on the unit. However it does get a three-speed fan.

The steering wheel, though different from the Duster's, lacks a chunky grip and misses out on embedded controls. The Duster's audio and bluetooth stalk, which is mounted on the steering column, is surprisingly not picked for the Terrano.

Nissan Terrano rear seat knee room
Rear bench is a strict two seater on variants fitted with a rear AC vent.

The feedback from the steering wheel is quite vague at higher speeds. It feels light at low speeds, and hence driving in the city is quite easy, and doesn't have a reflexive venter-back action. The clutch operation meanwhile is not very tight, and operates trouble-free in stop-go traffic. The car's category best turning radius of 4.9m, and 0-100kph sprint time of 12 seconds, make it feel more at home driving in an urban landscape.

Nissan Terrano parcel shelf
A parcel shelf covers the complete boot area and is a huge boon for people who are always with carry-able items.

The 1.5L K9K diesel engine is easily one of the best diesel engines in the Indian market, and serves across product lines of the Renault-Nissan alliance. The 110PS variant is calibrated to offer a linear torque delivery. Another noteworthy feature is that the cabin is extremely well insulted and under normal driving, the engine is heard working at a distance. As one would come to expect, the motor gets noisy at about 5K RPM, but it doesn't have an annoying clatter for company. There are traces of turbo lag below 1,500 RPM but the variable geometry turbo spools and delivers a healthy surge up till about 4,000RPM.

Nissan Terrano perforated leather seats
The Terrano's seats look premium, but don't provide ample neck and shoulder support to tall drivers.

The 6-speed gearbox is fantastic to work with. The gates, with a slight shift slack, is still very precise and fun to use. The sixth gear is usable at speeds as low as 80kph, but would see more frequent usage on long drives. This gearbox, ideally suited for long distance journeys, contradicts the planning of the variant, as it lacks a dead pedal. Was the interior designer in two minds?

Nissan Terrano gear knob
Rather than spreading out the gears widely and maxing out economy, Nissan (or Renault) has spaced them just about perfectly for the Terrano.

The suspension is quite remarkable in absorbing pits, bumps and potholes. Complementing the MacPherson struts up front and the torsion beam at the rear are the generously profiled 215/65 R16 section tires. Thuds or vibrations aren't felt in the cabin, even if they are taken at speed. Another highlight of this well-setup chassis is the lack of pitching or yawing under hard braking.

Nissan Terrano power window switch cluster
The power window switches are oddly grouped on the driver side door.

The Terrano's brakes provide adequate bite and with three well-built adults on board, a situation that warranted repeated pumping or extra effort didn't arise. The variant we drove had electronic aids such as ABD, EBD and brake assist.

Nissan Terrano steering wheel
Nissan insiders say that steering mounted audio controls will be launched soon. Currently it is not available even on the top-end model.

The rear aircon vent is planted right between the front seats and they take up what would have otherwise served as valuable knee room to the fifth passenger. This feature is only available on the premium variant, and hence the additional family member can sit more comfortably on one of the lower variants.

The pick of the features on the top-end model are the bluetooth audio system, leather seats, rear parking sensors and keyless entry. As an accessory, Nissan will offer a 6.1-inch touchscreen multimedia system that would come in place of the audio system.

Nissan Terrano rear three quarters
The Terrano builds on the strength of the Duster's design, and rectifies complaints made by customers who changed their minds.

To sum up in a simple sentence, the Nissan Terrano is a Duster in a new skin. While the Duster's raw and untamed looks and polarized opinions, there's nothing we could find offensive in the Terrano's design. Comparatively it looks more majestic and puts on a please-all appeal.

Nissan Terrano front three quarters on plain ground
The Terrano surprises you with the looks. It is the best looking SUV in India for 10 lakhs.

Except for the steering mounted audio controls, there's nothing on the features or mechanicals that the Duster doesn't offer. So if you are impressed by the all-round performance of the Duster's K9K engine, its well-matched gearbox, the brilliantly laid out chassis, but were turned off by its basic-looking interior, and found the exteriors peculiar, the Terrano is definitely worth a look. But, will these looks and a slightly premium cabin justify the 50-70k rupee (expected) price difference?

Nissan Terrano Image Gallery

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