The Nissan Terrano is easily the most awaited of the rebadged vehicle from Renault/Nissan. So far we’ve seen Nissan launch the car first after which Renault makes some styling changes and adds a bit more kit to sell it as a more premium offering. The Terrano bucks that trend by being based on a Renault and also being more expensive.
At first glance a very untrained eye might not notice the Renault Duster that this Nissan is based on. And that’s fair given that almost every body panel on the Terrano is new except for the roof and rear quarter panel. The design seems more grown up and sophisticated when compared with the Duster. The front is what sees the most change with a completely new face that’s very in line with Nissan’s family look. The grille is all new and is a larger, more modern iteration of those three piece affairs we’re used to seeing on SUVs like the Patrol. The headlamps are sleeker and more angular but blend well into the grille.
The bonnet is also completely redesigned and features two lines that flow into the grille. Fresh bumpers make for a smarter housing for the fog lamps while the air dam ends in a bash guard in a similar fashion to the Duster. The exaggerated wheel arches from the Duster remain but the Terrano’s sharper visage reduces the overtly muscled impression you get from the Duster. New 16-inch wheels fill those arches quite well and the Terrano boasts high ground clearance that gives it an imposing look. The side profile is perhaps the most reminiscent of the Duster but even here both doors have been redesigned and they get a new line along the base that gives the side a little more definition. The B and C pillars have been blacked out. The rear also gets a thorough make over with more angular tail lamps that fill in those metal blanks much better than the Dusters lamp’s. It’s nice to see that the Nissan has made the rear lamps fully functional and they aren’t simply dummy plastic pieces added onto the sides. The sharp rear design complements the face well.
The interiors have also seen quite a few changes. The centre console gets a refresh but the overall look is similar to the Duster. The audio system is new and the buttons have a much nicer damped feel than the Duster’s and the audio quality leaves nothing to complain. The central air vents are now rectangular as opposed the circular ones on the side and there’s a new closable stowage unit directly above them. Nissan has made subtle use of chrome and silver garnishes to give the cabin a luxurious appearance. The door trim has been given a smart but subtle wood trim and the interior gets a slightly lighter shade of beige. Build quality is on par with the Duster. Besides that everything from the Duster including the seats and the rear AC vent remains the same although Nissan has ditched those clever audio controls that are mounted behind the wheel on the Renault. Overall the Terrano brings little more to the table other than a significant styling rejig.
While things look drastically different, the Duster and Terrano are in fact very similar under the skin. The mechanicals remain untouched which is actually a rather good thing since the Duster is such a well engineered product. Two engines are on offer – the 1.6-litre petrol that makes 104PS and 145 Nm of torque while the 1.5-litre K9K diesel is offered with two output options – 85PS/200Nm or 110PS/248Nm. We got to drive the top end 110PS XV variant. This engine displaces 1461cc and uses a variable geometry turbo to provide a very meaty power delivery. Peak power is developed at 3900rpm while torque peaks at 248Nm at 2250rpm.
The driving feel, as you’d expect is identical to the Duster. Switch on the engine and you get the same characteristic clatter that we’ve gotten used to with the 1.5-litre K9K. However once you shut the doors the Terrano does a great job of cutting out a lot of the noise which gives you a good sense of being isolated from the road. There’s a new steering wheel but it feels very similar to the Duster’s. The clutch retains the same long and springy feel that gets tiring in traffic. Even the gear knob for the 6-speed transmission has the same hard stitching that I disliked in the Duster for the rough feel it has against the skin. Like in the Duster, the engines displays some lag upto about 1300rpm after which you get a strong surge of power all the way upto 4000rpm after which it starts to taper. Shifting at 3000rpm proves more than enough for brisk driving though. In gear drivability is strong and overtakes in 6th gear are possible at highway speeds.
Performance and mileage
We managed to do a quick performance run and like we expected the Terrano is almost exactly as fast as the Duster with a 0-100kmph time of 12.7 seconds. The top speed lies at a true 172kmph. Likewise the fuel efficiency figures tally as well and we got an impressive highway figure 21.6kmpl on the Terrano as against the 21.9kmpl on the Duster. The difference can be attributed to different traffic conditions and the heavy winds we encountered while testing.
Ride and Handling
The Terrano uses independent MacPherson struts and coil springs up front with a torsion beam set up at the rear along with coil springs and an anti roll bar. This suspension set up is exactly what you’d find underpinning the Duster and the Nissan is all the better for it. As soon as you start moving, the Terrano mirrors the Duster’s strongest point — this is one of the best riding cars on the market. Nothing slows a Terrano down and it simply ploughs through whatever poor and broken roads you throw at it. The snazzy new 16-inch wheels but they are wrapped with the same 215/65R16 section MRF Wanderer tyres. The high profile aids in the ability to absorb bumps but they provide good grip. Body roll is quite restrained and the car grips well enough to give you the confidence to push it hard through a winding road. Unfortunately the hydraulic assisted steering also retains the same tendency to snap back when you hit a bump mid corner and that can spring a nasty surprise on you if you’re not expecting it.
We loved the Duster for its braking performance and the Terrano with the same Disc/drum setup performs very well. The car came to a halt from 100kmph in a short 40.24m which is just a little shorter than the Duster. The Terrano shows the same confidence shedding speeds in a straight line without any squirming at the steering wheel and with good control from the ABS.
Features and kit
Kit levels in the Terrano are exactly what you get in the Duster. In the safety department you get two airbags, ABS, a reverse parking sensor, and a bash guard to protect your engine when on rough terrain. The XV offers keyless entry, two 12V sockets, tilt adjustable steering and height adjustable seats. With the good comes the bad and the Terrano carries forward the Duster’s negative points as well. The seating position isn’t perfect and the driver’s seat still has the tendency to rock slightly under braking. The controls for the ORVMs still lie in that awkward position under the handbrake while the rear power windows are in the same position in the door pads and that has you accidentally opening the windows every time you rest your elbow. These are just minor niggles and none of them are a deal breaker but the fact is that they still exist.
The Terrano doesn’t really offer anything over the Duster besides the significant styling differences. However we believe the Terrano will be well received because it’s a handsome and more premium looking design and will appeal to those who think the Duster has become a little passé. The significantly tweaked visuals and similar kit should be incentive enough to spend what we believe will be Rs 50,000 to 70,000 more than the equivalent Duster. Nissan will start taking pre-sales bookings from the first of September while the car will officially go on sale in October during the festival season. The compact SUV segment just got a hot new player.