Namibia Adventure Safari DAIHATSU TERIOS 1.5 4×4 OFF-ROAD
To some people, the Daihatsu Terios might have seemed out of place in a sandy Namibian riverbed where another 4×4 had just got stuck. Yet the little Terios never faltered and breezed through tricky sections where other SUVs struggled. This typified the Terios – the small 4×4 that’s not scared to take on the bigger guns
What kind of pavement-hopping 4×4 would defy a Nissan Pathfinder 3.0dCi with a full TJM suspension and BFGoodrich all-terrain tyres, in the dry Hoanib River in Namibia, in searing heat? What kind of soft-roader SUV would even contemplate such a thing?
Well, there is one. And it is called the Daihatsu Terios 1.5 Off-road.
We were pedalling the 170 kW Nissan through the sticky and soft river sand. The sand was doing its best to slow us down, so we kept the go-faster pedal mostly pinned to the carpet. But still the little Terios sat on our tail, refusing to be beaten by the much bigger Nissan. And that’s where it remained, all the way to the main dirt road, where we stopped to inflate the tyres again. The 88 kW four-cylinder compact SUV had run with the 170 kW V6 turbodiesel SUV.
Several factors made this possible. Firstly, there’s the advantage of weight. The Terios weighs in at almost a ton less than the Pathfinder. And in sand a ton makes a massive difference.
Negotiating sand also requires ample horsepower. The Terios Off-road version’s 1,5-litre engine that is fitted with a Dynamic Variable Valve Timing (DVVT) system is also equipped with a high-performance exhaust system. The free-flow exhaust adds 10 kW of power to the deal, bringing the total to 88 kW.
The small engine is not scared of high revolutions, and when one works the five-speed manual gearbox and gets the 16-valve engine ticking over above 4000r/min, the little Daihatsu is imperious in sandy conditions.
The Off-road model, available only in the short wheel-base format, also gets spacers for the suspension that ensure around 240mm worth of ground clearance, and the standard highway terrain tyres make way for chunky all-terrain wheels.
An unlikely Terios attribute is interior space. The Terios is small – no doubt about it. Yet Daihatsu’s engineers have managed to design and package the interior so that it feels – and actually is – way more spacious than its exterior dimensions would suggest.
It’s really clever. And it’s even luxurious and safe. It has electric windows, air-conditioning, power steering, an aftermarket infotainment system with built-in GPS, Bluetooth, and a sound system that can play DVDs, CDs, MP3s, USBs and just about everything else in the musical format spectrum.
The Terios Off-road sells for R259 995. For a young family it’s the ideal ticket into the world of 4×4. It’s amazingly economical, too.
Like William Wallace, the Scotsman who famously defied King Longshanks, the little Terios Off-road is a real braveheart.
The Daihatsu Terios is also a Toyota Rush. Yes, the Terios is branded as a Toyota. The first generation Terios started life in 1997 when it was launched in Japan with a 1,3-litre four-cylinder engine, or a 660cc engine. It was available in 4WD and 2WD models, and with a five-speed manual or four-speed automatic gearbox. The original Terios was particularly narrow. Apparently this, along with the 660cc engine, was a specific design trait so that the Terios could be classified as a kei car – a small class of car in Japan that enjoys a lot of tax, insurance and parking benefits over bigger cars.
The second generation Terios, launched internationally in 2006, was a joint development between Daihatsu and major shareholder Toyota.
In Japan, the little SUV is marketed as both a Daihatsu BeGo and a Toyota Rush. In other markets it is also known as the Daihatsu Terios Eco, Daihatsu Terios Wild and the Perodua Nautica.
Daihatsu Terios 1.5 Off-road
Engine: Four-cylinder, 16-valve, DVVT
Power: 88 kW @ 6000 r/min
Torque: 140 Nm @ 4400 r/min
Gearbox: Five-speed manual
4WD: Full-time 4×4 with centre differential lock
Ground clearance: 240mm
Price: R259 995