Contrary to history of world wars where French and Japanesefought assiduously against each other present automotive scenario is witnessing seamless cooperation between auto-giants of these nations. Today French flair Renault and Japanese prideNissan are complementing each other’s strengths through strategic alliance that has actually grown stronger with passage of time. Unlike most of joint ventures that got run into ground after initial honeymoon period; this partnership has indeed stood the test of time. As in other countries of world, in India too this strategic alignment of Nissan-Renault has bred considerable benefits for these auto majors. One manifestation of thisalliance philosophyhasmanifested in terms of badge engineering; a jargon representing practise of using existing vehicle with distinct brand name. Using each other’s models under different brand names has garnered rich benefits for both these partners in terms of saving of enormous money and time in new product development. Initially Renault rebadged Micra and Sunny of Nissan and launched these vehicles under its own brand as Pulse and Scala respectively. And now in payback deal Nissan has launched Terrano; a rebadged and disguised version of Reanult’spopular Duster SUV. Past records have shown that the Indian customers aren’t very kind to badge engineered products and originality is still being appreciated over rebadged clones. If market tows the same line then winning the hearts of Indian consumers won’t be going to be a cakewalkfor the Nissan’sTerrano. But then Nissan claims to have equipped Terrano with crucial ingredients that matter most to Indian buyers. We check authenticity of these claims through our road test of this new workhorse
Based on the underpinnings of Renault’s Duster, Nissan Terrano is essentially Duster in its profile though thanks to the prominent changes up front and rear, Terrano is successful in differentiating itself from its blood-brother; Duster. Unlike the meek and timid frontage of Duster, Terrano makes a strong pitch with its large bold V-shape honeycomb grill that could have made even better expression has it been lowered down further. Nonetheless even in its present form, Terrano successfully holds its macho ground well and the part of this achievement must be credited to 4-pod square-ish headlamps that flank the grill on the both sides. Bumper too adds to the overall dynamism as its grooved dissections looks solid as well as classy.
Side view is a plain act of copy-paste as there is no other way than the exquisitely machined 16” alloy wheels to differentiate Terrano from the Duster. Low glass area and high window line has been carried over without any scissoring act and that inevitably means that Nissan o. has missed out on crucial aspect of liberating more roomy feeling inside the Terrano. Similarly large wheel arches though give the Terrano masculinity and butch character, the unfilled gap between the arches and wheels looks glaringly odd. On the other hand roof rails with silver finishing do a decent job of equipping this SUV with racy character.
Rear portion of the Terrano, like the frontispiece, features some interesting and more importantly pleasant deviations from the Duster’s butt. Terrano feels more dynamic while having a chase and the tail light cluster though small looks quite appealing; especially when compared directly against the Duster. Exhaust muffler though has got the chrome finishing; we don’t think it will grab any eyeball except the experts.
Overall Terrano makes a solid first expression and very noticeable changes both upfront and at rear, have made it quite a different species even while using the same underpinnings as of Duster. Still we believe that if Nissan would have made some more practical changes in profile like enhancing the glass area and closing the wheel-arch gap, Terrano would have emerged even more practical and sensible buy. Still we are happy with the overall shape this rugged SUV has finally taken and we give it thumbs up for its seamless blend of sophistication and practicality.
LIVING ROOM UTILITY
Terrano comes with the two-tone colour scheme black-beige for dash design while all beige has been used for wrapping the front and rear seat bench. Though the colour combination matches extremely well and augments the overall space feels inside, this light combination is sure to stain easily and hence requires more attention in terms of dusting. Seats are comfortable, wide and have plenty of support. Front chairs are easily the most comfortable and snug the occupants quite well though the viewing angle is not all that great. First of all the dash board is laid-out high and that hinders the view. Further this viewing obtrusiveness is further magnified by the twin-pod instrument cluster that has got its upper cover quite soaring and elevated to disturbing height. Instrument cluster itself though has clear and vivid dials but like the Mahindra’s arrangement one won’t be easily able to differentiate that which dial measures what as both the clusters looks quite similar.
Now coming to rear seat of Terrano which is quite wide, comfy and well supported. Seating three fully grown adults is no task for the Terrano as the bench is wide enough to meet the shoulder space demand of all the abreast passengers. But there is one big mistake that Nissan has committed while underlying carpeting the rear bench as crucial parameters like legroom and knee room has got little attention and as a result these two things are quite mediocre in terms of their availability. Now this mediocrity is particularly disturbing when one cites the large and humongous boot space that has been provided in Terrano. Now instead of restricting the room availability at rear bench, company should have freed up some more space by moving the second bench a little behind than its original position it has been frozen to. The large boot space that most of the times won’t be used to its full capacity is simply the waste of the precious space that if used intelligently would have made Terrano a far more superior and comfortable proposition.
In terms of other practical touches, Terrano has enough storage spaces though front door pockets are not very useful as they lack the competence of holding the big bottles. Glove box is deep though lacks in terms of width. Piano-black theme on centre console that houses stereo system and AC controls lacks the visual appeal and its quality too fells a bit on the average side. There is convenience of USB and aux-in provided by 2-DIN music system though there is no automatic climate control facility that Nissan considered even on the top model. Manual buttons given for controlling the inside temperatures don’t feel very solid and thoroughly lacks the tactile feel with rear AC vent and control is quite fiddly job to perform.
Silver accents on the large steering wheel looks good and give the ambience a sort of retro look that is certainly enhanced by the instrument cluster. Central AC vents that are square-ish in design is another subtle deviation from the standard though the circular type side ones again resort to popular on-going theme.
Boot space as discussed above is quite enormous in its size and is fully capable to hold 475 litres of luggage. Not only this boot has been laid out well but also this trunk area comes with some unique touches like side pockets hiding the suspension housing and boot light.
MATTER OF HORSES
Terrano comes in both petrol and diesel variants though like other SUVs; Nissan has been focussed more on the diesel variant as in all probability diesel variant will outsell its gasoline cousin. Petrol variant of the Terrano comes with 1.6-litre of engine that produces 104 PS of power though the centre of all’s attraction; oil-burner alternative of Terrano has got the same 1.5-liter of engine displacement though in two different states of tuning.
Nissan has presented two power versions of diesel Terrano with output of 85 PS and 110 PS mated with 5-speed and 6-speed manual transmission. We got out hands on the higher power version of Terrano that makes 110 PS of power and 248 Nm of torque. Idle of the engine is quite smooth and refined that is not a very familiar characteristic of K9K engine as far as our memories go back. Pleasantly surprised by the enhanced refinement of engine, we were off to drive and the pressing of clutch threw another surprise as the clutch action felt progressive yet light; especially for a SUV of this stature.
With heightened expectations we started off and found this SUV’s eager character as even the dabbed on the accelerator surged Terrano ahead with alacrity. We also found the gearing to be on short side as the briskness of Terrano is quite commendable. Handling city traffic in Terrano is a child’s play as this SUV feels quite light and eager in its overall performance.In mid-range too, Terrano quickly developed the pace and easily attained 3 digit speed mark. We felt that the enthusiasm of the motor though tapered off after that and it is best to drive the Terrano within its limits.
In terms of gear shifting experience, Terrano is on par with competition as there is neither any exceptional competence complaint nor any horrendous mistake that Nissan has made in its 5 and 6-speed manual transmission. Clutch action has been on the lighter side that bodes very well for its city practicality. Brakes worked well too though we already have had some better stopping experience of late with Toyota’s Innova name flashing prominently in our memory.
16” wheels shrouded with 215 mm of wide rubber gives Terrano an excellent ride quality that is unrivalled and can be easily regarded as segment benchmark. Complemented by high ground clearance of 205 mm, the ride experience of the Terrano is outstanding as this large workhorse dispatches even the potholes and ruts with aplomb. Occupants are rarely hit buy the outside obtrusions as the long progression of MacPherson strut up front and torsion beam axle at rear make sure that journey in Terrano remains comfortable without any need of body massage even at the end of long tour spells. In fact the glaringly odd difference between the arches and the wheels has manifested its usability here as that extra progression has equipped Terrano with comfy and cushioned ride.
In handling too, Terrano showed its mettle as the body roll was within the acceptable limits even when we chucked it around hard. Along with handling the unexpected move well, Terrano kept a strict vigil on the shifting mass phenomenon and the taut chassis underpinnings is the factor that must be credited for making such a large SUV feel like a normal car during its driving dynamics.
Terrano has ranged in between Rs 9.60 lakh base XL-Petrol variant) to Rs 12.46 lakh (top-line XV diesel model) with the prices pertaining to ex-showroom, Delhi. In the stark contrast to this, Renault’s Duster starts at much lower price of Rs 7.99 lakh for base petrol variant and stretched up to Rs 12.18 lakh for top end diesel variant. In isolation as well as on comparison, Terrano is mediocre value for money with top diesel variant on the higher side of price bracket. Barring the petrol versions, diesel variants of Terrano and Duster are quite evenly matched in price and that will sure to create the friction in terms of eating out each other’s market share. Now talking in terms of overall competence, we think Terrano is better choice than the Duster as some of the crucial interventions of Nissan have made it more aggressive and practical than its cousin. Terrano not only feels up market than Duster but its overall performance in terms of engine and dynamic prowess is also leagues ahead than its French brother. But now whether these outstanding virtues of Terrano are able to prevail over the popular brand name of Duster or not will be an interesting future trend to observe.
Style & Substance 4/5 Ride & Handling 4/5
Interiors & Ergonomics: 3/5 Safety & Equipment 3.5/5
Power-Plant & Transmission 3.5/5 Fuel Efficiency 3.5/5
Value for Money 3/5