Daihatsu Terios – 2006

The second generation Terios is small but perfectly formed — though larger than its dwarfish first generation predecessor. This attractive compact SUV is one of the smallest off-roaders on the market, with four-wheel drive capability that’s well up to modest mud-larking (helped by a locking centre differential function).

It can accommodate four adults in reasonable comfort and drives well on the road, too, but lacks the power to cruise comfortably at high speed or tow a horsebox. In truth, it’s designed to appeal to those who would once have opted for a Suzuki Grand Vitara or Toyota RAV4 before they started getting bigger and more expensive —ladies of the road take note.

The free-revving 1.5 litre petrol engine can be teamed with a five-speed manual gearbox or four-speed automatic transmission. The motor seems to be a tad small for the job in hand and has to be worked hard, which can cause it to complain noisily.

The wheels are right at the corners and are all driven all the time, giving stability on-and off-road, with little roll on corners. The suspension is firm, giving a bouncy ride on rough roads, especially at speed. There are front disc brakes, anti-lock braking and independent suspension all round.

The five-door Terios has the high driving position that makes off-roaders so appealing to some, and the cabin has a solid feel with well laid-out controls. The back seats can be split or folded forwards to give good load space, accessed by a rear door that is side-hinged to carry the spare tyre. There are four versions to choose from — the S, SX, SE Auto and Kiri Limited Edition, all representing outstanding value for money at a price that makes the Terios a viable alternative to an average hatchback.

COUNTRY OF ORIGIN:

Japan

FIRST MANUFACTURED:

2006

ENGINE:

1,495 cc Straight Four

PERFORMANCE:

Top speed of 99 mph (159 km/h); 0-60 mph (97 km/h) in 12 secs

YOU SHOULD KNOW:

The Terios – like the rival Grand Vitara and RAV4 whose original shoes it filled – soon started along the well-trodden path of sizing up, with a seven-seater version added to the compact original.

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