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Car reviews - Daihatsu - Terios - SX 5-dr wagon

Our Opinion

We like
Space for four
Room for improvement
No off-roader, noisy at speed

16 Jan 2001

THE Terios was launched in mid-1997 and is a product of yet another motoring trend sweeping its home country Japan - glamorous yet cheap "recreation" vehicles for the image-mad Ginza set. It is a niche inhabited by the Terios alone.

It is a little like a LandCruiser zoomed down by 44 per cent, making the tiny but tall Terios look toy-like.

Inside, there is room for four with good legroom and headroom thanks to the upright seating.

Rear-seat comfort can be enhanced by a minimally reclining backrest, which also benefits cargo space.

With the rear seat in place, luggage room is okay though bettered by boxy superminis like Mazda's Metro. Folding the rear seats maximises the boot space considerably.

The lofty driving position makes Terios seem much larger although sitting shoulder to shoulder with your passenger soon betrays its true narrowness.

Disappointments include the base model's plastic-feel cloth trim, seats which are too thin and flat for proper support, an alarming lack of oddment space, non-illuminated minor switchgear and no left foot rest.

Power comes from a willing 61kW, 1.3-litre, 16-valve engine. It does a decent job but torque is lacking, reaching a meagre 105Nm at a very high 5100rpm, just 1000rpm lower than the power peak.

Hard revving for going hard is a must, resulting in quite a din from the engine. Short gearing and noticeable wind rush at 100km/h do not help noise levels either.

The short gear lever's short throw makes for a notchy and uncooperative action although the clutch and standard power steering are nicely light and progressive.

Like RAV4, Terios has a weight-reducing, car-derived monocoque chassis, rather than the common 4WD ladder frame design.

The Terios uses a permanent four-wheel drive system but, unlike the Jimny, does not come with ultra-low gear ratios. Light off-road work only is the go here.

The centre differential can be locked to provide more traction.

The car-like chassis means the soft suspension provides a decent ride although undulated roads may make Terios squirm and hop about - the live rear axle does not help here and underlines the car's lack of refinement compared to, say, the fully independent RAV4. It is also prone to some body roll while the narrow body exacerbates this.

Like all fads, it will be interesting to track the longevity of the Terios concept. Its shrunken 4WD wagon body restricts space yet offers no real off-road benefits, while compromising on-road driveability, refinement and versatility.

- Automotive NetWorks 05/07/99

The Road to Recovery podcast series

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