NISSAN TERRANO 5 DOOR SLX
The Terrano 2 is the fruit of a very successful Nissan/Ford joint programme, the Terrano - and indeed the Ford Maverick equivalent which differs but marginally from it - being built by Nissan to a joint design and it is one of the latest examples of the co-productions which are becoming such a feature of the world's car market.
As the market splinters into a rapidly increasing number of niches, many car makers - even the very largest - are finding the multi-billion pound development costs of new models prohibitive and are choosing to form loose alliances to create new models for selected market sectors.
The Terrano is an important bridge between 2 of these niche markets, both of which have grown very rapidly in the last few years, that for offroaders and for MPV's, and it very successfully combines all of the best elements of an offroader, an MPV and a saloon car and is as easy to drive and park as the average family saloon.
Where it differs from many jeep type vehicles is in it's looks for the body of the Terrano is both more curvy and good looking than the rather utilitarian norm, it offers from 5 to 7 seats with good head, leg and shoulder room throughout - even in the fold and roll third row of seats of the long wheelbase version which I drove - although access to the rear row of seats is difficult for any other than an agile child.
The load carrying area is a massive 67 cubic feet in seats down mode for the bigger car and the tie-downs are very sensible but, unusually, the rear door is hinged on the left rather than the right which makes loading a little more difficult as one has to walk around the door rather than loading directly into it... odd.
The cabin is much more "carlike" than many other offroaders and better equipped and it is more appropriate to consider it as a large estate with that important offroad capability which, even if never used, offers all of the poor weather safety margin of 4 wheel drive, very appropriate for the snowy and bitterly cold weekend that I drove it.
One sits up high with huge areas of glass giving a grand view of the road and a great feeling of safety in this tremendously solid vehicle, it promotes a feeling of being able to take the worst of conditions completely unfazed.
The cabin is also very car like in it's neat instrument layout, the seats are very comfortable - the driver's being height adjustable with good lumbar support - and the adjustable steering column which allows a less uncomfortably upright driving position than many jeeps.
The standard equipment package, at least at the upper trim level, is also the equal of most up-market cars featuring well weighted power steering - which makes the Terrano very easy to park - power windows, mirrors and sunroof, central locking and a good 4 speaker stereo.
Terrific pulling power is the main feature of the 2.7 litre, 100 bhp, turbo diesel, one of the quietest offroader diesels around and with all of the handling and performance that most people are ever likely to need, indeed it feels better than the makers figures suggest, with both reasonable acceleration and easy, quiet, cruising at 70 mph on the motorway yet with the ability to haul the Terrano up a 1 in 3 slope, wade through half a metre of water or mud and tow a trailer up to 2800 kilo's.
Another area where the Terrano differs from some jeeps, which are a bit noisy with bone jarringly hard suspension, is it's quiet, comfortable, ride and great road stability with just a hint of firmness.
The range comprises 3 and 5 door short and long wheelbase versions, in 2 levels of trim - LX and SLX - with the choice of 2.4 litre petrol or 2.7 litre turbo diesel engines all with light 5 speed manual gearboxes with hi/lo ratios and switchable 2/4 wheel drive. Priced from £15175 up to £18775 for the top 2.7 litre TD SLX version that I drove, the range offers quite a number of permutations and some very reasonable prices given the range of capabilities.
For anyone involved in outdoor pursuits or just wanting the convenience of an estate car with more than the usual number of seats and the ability to safely traverse any ground, the Terrano may be the best introduction to 4x4 motoring on the market. It's a very likeable car, a very easy drive and a car with a huge and diverse range of capabilities.
PRO's AND CON's
First Published 1994 - Article © Graham Benge 2007