Daihatsu Terios 4x2 (2006) Driving Impression

Daihatsu Terios 2007

Perhaps against all expectations, the first-generation Daihatsu Terios was a relative sales success in South Africa. Having a trusted badge on the nose helps, of course, but on the other hand there’s also clearly something appealing about a cute little quasi off-roader. Much is therefore expected of the second-generation Daihatsu Terios, which is significantly bigger and less “adorable”. In a market such as South Africa, where SUVs are desirable and affordability key, it looks set to score, big time.

Grown up looks for Daihatsu Terios

Whereas its predecessor looked almost laughably tiny (especially in terms of its width/height ratio), the newcomer has ditched this near-comical design theme for a far more grown-up look. For one, it is significantly wider (1 695 mm), which has brought some muscle to its stance. For the desired serious SUV look, the wheelarches are slightly accentuated, there’s a covered spare wheel on the tailgate, and the front and rear overhangs are very short. Now add 200 mm of ground clearance and chunky 16-inch alloy wheels, and it’s safe to say that showing up at the golf club in a Terios will no longer get you laughed at.

But by far the biggest step up has happened inside, where the Daihatsu Terios now compares favourably with vehicles one class up in terms of equipment, practicality, design and build quality. Of course, the plastics are of the hard variety, but the fit is excellent, with not a rattle to be heard. There’s also a fair degree of flair on display – the centre section of the facia is particularly neat, featuring a metallic grey surface and very nicely integrated audio and ventilation systems.

Given the compact dimensions on the outside, the Terios’s cabin space is quite surprising. Rear legroom is certainly sufficient for most families, and even the boot is of a decent size, the latter aided by not having to accommodate a spare wheel. The tailgate, by the way, swings open sideways, which is not a universally liked design. Load-carrying ability can be further boosted by folding down the 60/40 split rear seats.

At the price, the Daihatsu Terios has been fair with the standard specification – air-conditioning, electric windows, power steering, radio/CD, two airbags and ABS with EBD are part of the package. Add good seats and a nice driving position (although there’s no reach adjustment for the steering wheel) and the Terios can only score highly for cabin comfort...

Solid underpinnings

… but there is a downside. In 4x4 guise the Daihatsu Terios is a fairly serious little off-roader and one senses that this was a particular area of focus for the quirky Japanese brand, which is a Toyota subsidiary. The result is, however, that the 4x2 exhibits some of these hardcore genes, and this may not be appreciated by all those customers who are merely looking to substitute their traditional B- or C-segment hatchbacks for something that looks a bit more lifestyle oriented, but without a comfort sacrifice. The Daihatsu Terios ride is firm, which coupled with the short wheelbase, can result in a choppy ride on poor surfaces. And while the extra width has made the Daihatsu Terios a far more stable vehicle in general, the high centre of gravity remains quite pronounced in the corners. Overall, however, these should not be seen as deal breakers, as the Daihatsu Terios more than makes up for these niggles through the extra versatility brought by its high ground clearance and underpinnings that are very suitable to rough surfaces or poor roads – such as the odd pothole or mounting the pavement at the local gym.

Sufficient punch

Compact or not, the Terios is a fairly heavy machine with a weight of nearly 1,5 tonnes, which explains why it feels so solid. Consequently there were some concerns about the suitability of a relatively small, low output (77 kW) 1,5-litre petrol engine that delivers its torque (140 Nm) at fairly high revs. In reality, however, the Daihatsu Terios hardly ever feels underpowered. Sure, you need to use the revs if you’re in a hurry, which also sees the fuel consumption figure climb significantly, but during general driving the Terios feels quite sprightly, with a surprisingly sporty exhaust note. You should be able to sprint to 100 km/h in 12 seconds, but the short gearing, which partly gives the Daihatsu Terios its lively feel, does limit the top speed to 160 km/h. Expect to average around 9 litres/100 km during daily driving, which is quite high. Long-term running costs should, however, be very low. In typical Daihatsu fashion, the drivetrain feels unburstable. A 3 year/75 000 km service plan is included in addition to the 3 year/100 000 km warranty.

Daihatsu Terios - Verdict

Daihatsu is onto a winner with the Terios II. It somehow manages to be every bit as endearing as its forerunner, yet is also a far more serious, capable vehicle across a wide range of potential applications. Perhaps Daihatsu could have softened the ride somewhat and used front- instead of rear-wheel drive to save weight and improve the fuel economy, but overall, the pros far outweigh the cons. It is a genuine alternative to run-of-the-mill top-spec B-segment hatches, as well as entry-level C-segment cars. And it has almost no serious direct competition…

We like:

  • Build quality
  • Practicality
  • Value for money
  • Decent on/off-road dynamics
We don’t like:
  • Quite thirsty
Fast facts

Engine: 1,5-litre, four-cylinder, petrol

Power: 77 kW @ 6 000 rpm

Torque: 140 Nm @ 4 400 rpm

Transmission: Five-speed manual

Wheels: 16-inch alloy

Top speed: 160 km/h

0-100 km/h: 12 seconds

Fuel economy:  8,61 litres/100 km

Source: www.um.co.za

Also consider:

  • Fiat Panda Climbing: The Terios doesn’t really have direct rivals, so the closest is this rather quirky Fiat, which simply can’t match the overall package on offer from Daihatsu.