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D / IMPRESSIONS

Good value 4×4 fun





29 April 2010


On face value the Daihatsu Terios is no more than a softroader. It has no low-range transfer case, the ground clearance is good but not brilliant (205mm) and it is powered by a 1,5-litre petrol engine.

But on the recent relaunch of the vehicle we were reminded of its off-road prowess. Remember, this is a car that has been driven by Leisure Wheels’ readers to places as remote as Angola, the Namib and all over Mozambique. And we have also done our fair share of off-road driving, in all sorts of cars, and we maintain that the Terios is about as good as it gets without low range.

The reason for the most recent “launch” of the Terios was a minor facelift, with a few cosmetic changes and even fewer mechanical ones. New on the outside are the grille and the clear taillights, while the power steering is now electrical and not hydraulic. Other than that it’s the same reliable little SUV.

And that means it is still powered by the same 1,5-litre, four-cylinder petrol engine that produces 80 kW at 6000 r/min and 141 Nm of torque at 4400 r/min. Fuel economy is claimed to be about 8.1 l/100km, which gives a range of 620km from its 50l tank while the increasingly important carbon emissions are just 190g CO2/km. A five-speed manual and a four-speed automatic gearbox are available.

While this is ample power for most applications, such as town driving and the open road, the lack of torque is one thing that hinders the Terios off-road. Revs are needed for steep inclines and, because there is no low-range ‘box, that means you need speed or momentum.

We tackled some fairly arduous terrain in the Terios (we must acknowledge the Daihatsu staff for their confidence in their product!), including a lot of rocky patches, and it did exceptionally well.

The 4×4 system of the Terios is permanent, with a 60% front-wheel bias. A mechanical centre diff-lock is engaged via a switch on the dash and locks power distribution at 50% per axle. We used this for all of the slippery sections, including gravel roads and treacherous mud, as well as for any section where we thought the added traction may be of service. Approach angle is 38 degrees and departure angle is 37 degrees. Rear-wheel-drive 4×2 versions are also available, with the same ground clearance, while the Off-Road 4×4 version has an extra 50mm ground clearance, a limited-slip rear diff and a bit more power and torque. Add some nice all-terrain tyres and you have a very capable off-road vehicle.