Nissan, known for its extremely capable SUV's the world over has finally entered the compact SUV market in India with its latest blockbuster, the Terrano. We take it for an exhaustive spin on some of the best and worst roads in Rajasthan to tell you if it's a hit or a miss!
Not being boastful, let me tell you ZigWheels is India’s number one online automobile portal. And over the years if you look at stories which have garnered the maximum hits, they all have one thing is common, they are all related to SUV’s. Such is India’s love affair with these big, butch family cars. Almost every manufacturer here in India owes at least a little or in some cases a lot to this segment which has set the numbers rolling for them.
Coming to Nissan, the Japanese giant already had the X-Trail here in India, but with its pricing being north of Rs. 20 lakh, it did little for Nissan in terms of numbers. What Nissan needed was a compact SUV with a competitive price tag to gain the acceptance of our SUV loving people. This is where the Renault-Nissan alliance came into the picture. With Renault already setting the ball rolling with its immensely successful Duster, all Nissan had to do was what Renault did with the Nissan Micra and the Sunny and lo and behold, we have the Nissan Terrano. We already spoke in detail about the Terrano at it’s unveil last month and now here is the drive report in detail.
So here we are at the Maharana Pratap airport in Udaipur with our fleet of Terrano’s ready and waiting. Since the first session of the drive was going to be a relatively short one to Devigarh, I got into the Terrano XL with the 85PS power output. So while we are waiting for more people to arrive, I move around the insides to find out how welcoming the new Terrano is. If you like beige, you will instantly love the interiors. Me on the other hand, I’m not too much in its favour simply because beige is easily stained and maintenance can be a pain. But the upside of it is that the cabin does feel a lot more roomy. The front seats are quite large and can easily accommodate someone with a large frame quite comfortably. There are some neat touches as well, like the chrome surrounds on the air-con vents, the aluminium inserts on the ‘new’ steering wheel and the piano black centre console which look quite upmarket. The audio system is all-new as well.
The rear bench is supremely comfortable too. Seating three abreast is hardly a task. Lots of under-thigh support means a comfortable long drive is the order of the day. But there are a few chinks in the otherwise impenetrable armour. For starters, there is the absence of climate control. Then there is also the lack of steering mounted controls which can get quite irritating. And finally you have the speedometer console which looks as vivid as a newspaper from the 1970’s. Getting to the practical aspect, there is plenty of stowage place for knick-knacks and a spacious 475 litre boot. All said and done, putting the minor nitty-gritty’s aside, Nissan has done quite a good job with the interiors even though under all that beige and aluminum inserts, one can still see a reflection of the Duster’s layout.
Finally it was time to leave and we were off. Despite being an SUV, the clutch action is quite soft which is a boon when one is stuck in stop and go traffic. But out here in Rajasthan, I was in fifth gear the moment I hit the road. In its 85PS tune, the Terrano gets a 5-speed manual gearbox. Nice short gear ratios meant the Terrano got upto speeds quite quickly. However try cruising above 100 km/h and the Nissan starts feeling out of breath, especially when a quick overtake is needed. The breathlessness gets amplified when there are 4 passengers on board and a hilly terrain to deal with.
Constant shifts are the need of the hour so that one can stay in the powerband to find usable performance. However once within city limits, the Terrano is totally at ease. Compact dimensions along with short gearing makes light work of traffic while the 205mm ground clearance soaks up the worst roads you can throw at it. Ride quality is fantastic and the Terrano can easily handle the worst potholes our city roads can throw at it with aplomb.
A nights rest at Devigarh and we were ready for day 2 of the drive. This time we got into the XV 110PS variant. The top of the line variant gets leather instead of fabric, an exhaustive multi-information display, Zebra wood finish on the armrest and door trim and those fantastic 16 inch machined alloy wheels. It’s quite a looker, the Terrano especially the fully loaded variant. Destination selected on the aftermarket GPS system, we are off to Kumbhalgarh. What is immediately noticeable is how much more relaxed the 110PS variant is. With more power and the extra 48Nm of torque, and a 6-speed manual gearbox the Terrano 110PS comes across as the better highway muncher. Acceleration both outright and in-gear are very impressive.
Throughout the journey we were met with some of the best roads in India. The Terrano feels quite nimble around corners as well thanks to its lightweight chassis and the well setup suspension. Meandering cattle meant the brakes were put to the test as well and equipped with ABS, EBD and Brake-force assist, the Terrano stops reassuringly well. We even had a go off the beaten and path and the Terrano seems quite capable thanks to its long suspension travel and high ground clearance. But just as we were speaking about its capabilities, we managed to bog down the car.
A stagnant water body presented us with the opportunity to get some amazing pictures but once done, we realised we had put a little too much faith into the Terrano’s front wheel drive capabilities. With the rear wheels touching the water and a slight climb to conquer, the Terrano was struggling to climb out thanks to the soft ground. After multiple attempts and rocks sandwiched between the front tyres and the soft surface, I finally buried the throttle as deep as possible. Furious wheelspin, lots of mud flying (on the people who were trying to help too) and a wee bit of smoke from the tyres, the Terrano finally clawed itself out. Whew…close call!
We thought that was enough adventure for the day and decided to wind up with the photography. A quick lunch and we were set to head back to the airport. We left the earliest thinking we could have a nice laid back drive and enjoy the scenery; however that was not to be. Feeding the destination on the GPS we were off following the route directions. However after hours of driving through village roads and the airport still showing quite far off in the map, we knew something was amiss.
After some frantic calls and junking the GPS for some good ol’ ‘ask for directions’ we knew it was going to be a hit or miss run to the airport. With my other three passengers firmly belted I asked them to hold on as I put the Terrano through its paces. Bad roads, good roads, potholes, sand, nothing was spared as the Terrano ran amok through everything leaving an atmosphere of dust behind. What was admirable is the way the Nissan took all the punishment throughout that frenzied airport run which speaks volumes about how well built the Terrano is. In the end we just about made it to the airport to catch our flight back home.
So how good is the Terrano then? Before we get to that answer let me bring to your attention that all throughout the review I haven’t spoken about how it compares to the Duster on which it is almost completely based. What I wanted to put through was how well the Terrano holds its ground if we consider it an all new product from Nissan and in that regard the Nissan Terrano comes across as an extremely good product.
But there is no running away from the fact that the Terrano is indeed a rebadged Renault Duster which looks better and boasts better insides with exactly the same mechanicals. However, not considering the price (which is yet to be unveiled) the Nissan definitely seems to be the pick of the two. Handsome looks, decent equipment levels coupled with a fantastic ride and handling package, the Terrano does everything expected from a vehicle in this segment. A 4x4 variant is probably the only thing missing considering how capable the car is and if that is a mandate for your purchase you’re looking at at least a years wait. Leaving the promising start aside, only full test and more importantly the price will determine how the Terrano fares and we are hoping Nissan won’t disappoint.