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This has to be said so let’s get it out of the way: the Terrano is the Duster – same platform, same engine, same oily bits. Both are made on the same line at the same plant by the same workers. Both feel the same from behind the wheel. And while prices haven’t been announced you can bet the house on the fact that the Terrano will offer a similarly attractive VFM package as the Duster. What isn’t the same is the styling and that’s the biggest draw of the Terrano, one that makes it a credible alternative to the Duster. It improves on the one thing that needed sprucing up while retaining the rest of the package that makes the Renault a best-seller.
The Terrano name has history, having adorned the backsides of a generation of rugged SUVs which were manufactured from the late eighties. Sharing the same platform as the Pathfinder, the Terrano was a compact SUV with genuine go-anywhere capabilities that stayed in production till 2006 with multiple facelifts.
Visually the new Terrano lives up to its past and presents a properly butch visage. Whereas the Duster is all soft and inoffensive the Terrano takes a completely different track, drawing a lot of visual cues from the current full-size Pathfinder and Patrol SUVs and sporting a grille treatment that has become a trademark of all big Nissan SUVs. Unlike the Micra/ Pulse twins, with the Terrano, Nissan have spent considerable time in the styling studios to completely transform the Duster’s nose, so much so that there really is no visual link between the two. The Terrano looks aggressive and thanks to the nose you now notice the flared wheel arches which add muscle to the overall stance.
While the flanks remain unchanged the 16-inch rims look extremely good and at the rear there is a new tail gate with revised tail lamps which, while not the most handsome in the world, are at least distinctive. These changes are proper sheet metal changes, stuff that costs money and takes time, but the end result has been worthwhile and Nissan can count on the styling itself to shift significant volumes of the Terrano.
The interior is a combination of beige and black, the norm these days thus nothing out of the ordinary but the quality is quite good. Visual differences are limited to rectangular air-con vents, a small storage bin above the centre console, new audio system and a new steering wheel. Top end variants get leather seats and faux wood garnish for the door and centre console trims but there are no steering wheel mounted controls for the stereo. These are all minor changes but overall they do make the cabin feel better than the Renault, quite possibly the best in this class. There is good space too and a large boot but there is no third row of seats.
On the mechanical front the Terrano continues with the 1.5-litre K9K four-cylinder diesel. There are two states of tune, 83bhp and 200Nm in base trim and 108bhp and 248Nm on the higher version. The latter is more suited to lug around the Terrano’s 1235kg. The engine is grunty and if you work through the gears, changing at 3500rpm, you’ll be able to move at a swift pace. Overtaking is a fairly easy affair and the engine shows no hesitation in doing so even in top gear. The 6-speed transmission is slick but sixth gear is something you can only use on the highway as it is tall to extract the best possible fuel efficiency. And at a claimed 19kmpl the fuel efficiency is very good. Turbo lag is an issue and there isn’t much go below 1900rpm. This becomes annoying when you find yourself slowing down and wanting to pick up speed in second gear. Step on the throttle and you have to wait till the tachometer travels upwards of 2000rpm, where the turbo kicks in and you get the surge in power. The 100kmph dash will be dispatched in a quick enough 12 seconds while top speed is in the region of 170kmph, speeds at which the Nissan feels planted and stable.
The 83bhp engine picks up revs quicker, but because there isn’t much in the way of a top end turbo lag isn’t much of an issue. The 100kmph dash will take somewhere around 15 seconds which isn’t too slow either while the claimed fuel efficiency is an even better 20.45kmpl. This engine gets a 5-speed gearbox.
The Terrano will also get a 1.6-litre petrol engine that makes 102bhp and 145Nm of peak torque. While the rev limit is 6300rpm, post 5000rpm the power flattens out and this engine does feel underpowered requiring vigorous stirring of the 5-speed manual gearbox and revving the engine hard. Claimed fuel efficiency is 13.24kmpl which isn’t too good.
The suspension remains unchanged from the Duster and that means a comfortable ride from the independent MacPherson front and torsion beam rear set-up. With a massive 210mm ground clearance and soft suspension settings she takes to broken roads with consummate ease and that’s crucial in tackling our roads and conditions.
Pile into a corner at speed and she will understeer, this is no sporty SUV. Body roll is present but never alarming while the steering is light and accurate though not very great at communicating what is going on. The Terrano sticks with front-wheel-drive, 4WD is not on the options list at the moment. That means she won’t take to hardcore off-roading but for light work in the plantations she will prove to be quite capable.
Ultimately it boils down to pricing and we expect it to command a premium in the range of 50–70 thousand rupees over the Duster, a starting price of a shade under Rs 10 lakh going up to Rs 14.5 lakh fully loaded. To be sure the premium only gets you better styling, all the other virtues that have made the Duster a best- seller remain unchanged. And that could mean that just like Duster transformed Renault’s fortunes in India, the Terrano might just do the same for Nissan.