The sub Rs. 10-lakh compact SUV segment is one of the only two auto segments that have managed to grow in India. Little wonder that all car-makers want a slice of this pie. So does Nissan, but the problem is that it does not have a vehicle in its global line-up to do duty. Solution? Its partner Renault does have something — the hugely successful Duster. Thus was born the Terrano, with dollops of cut-and-paste jobs, in the Renault Scala and Pulse mode. Does it work?
Nissan wanted to make the Terrano more stylish, apart from differentiating it from the Duster. So it has new front, with more angular headlamps vis-a-vis the Duster. The grille is reminiscent of its Pathfinder. From the front, it looks nothing like the Duster. Overall dimensions are identical, and so is the stance. From the side, barring the blacked out B and C pillars, there is no difference either. The tail lamps have got a bigger cluster that flows into the boot lid.
Within the little space that Nissan had, it has managed to make this “new” SUV more aggressive and stylish.
Inside, changes are few and far between. Except the middle A/c vents, which are rectangular, there is nothing to tell you that you are not sitting in the Duster. Which is a disappointment, because the Duster’s interiors were uninspiring in the first place, and could have done with some polish. Compared to the Ford EcoSport, the interiors feel boring and dated. The two-tone beige colour theme does lend a premium feel, but the quality of plastic is average. And even the top-end variant does not have steering-mounted controls.
The strength is in the space: three can sit easily on the back seat, and the boot is cavernous at 475 litres, helping the Terrano score brownie points over the Ford.
Performance, ride and handling
Essentially there are two engines: a 1.6-litre petrol and a 1.5-litre diesel. But the latter has two tuning variants, which produce power of 85 Ps and 110 Ps. The petrol engine, despite being the biggest among peers, does not offer great performance. Compared to the similar sized engine of the EcoSport, or the puny but technologically-advanced 1-litre ecoboost variant, the Terrano petrol is sluggish and unexciting.
The pick of the lot is the 110 Ps diesel engine, which comes across as the right power mix for a car of this size. For such a tall car, handling is impeccable. The suspension is set up on the harder side to this end, and though this can make the ride a bit jerky, it is well compensated if you intend to let your hair down. Even on broken and uneven roads, which are dime-a-dozen in India, the vehicle is stable. There are also six gears at hand, so the torque is evenly distributed. Reads almost like the Duster? Well it is.
However, Nissan did not put a 4-wheel drive option: another missed opportunity. Since the Terrano was always going to be costlier, this was the right place to put in an all-wheel drive.
So in this melee, where does the Terrano stand? All you needed — engine, powertrain, fuel economy, space, functionality — the Duster already had. So one has to be an ardent Nissan fan to prefer this brother over that, especially since the Terrano is a good Rs. 50,000-90,000 costlier.
What do we get? Greater style, and precious little beyond that. If they had put in an all-wheel drive (which the Duster does not), we would have said it was ready to fly. As such, well, you decide.