The Terios was the first compact 4x4 with permanent four-wheel drive in SA when it was introduced eight years ago, and it quickly made a hit with its economical 1.3-litre engine and great looks.
The new Terios continues in the same tradition, but with a bigger, wider and more spacious body and a more powerful 1.5-litre motor.
Compared to the previous model, the new version is 230 mm longer at 4 075 mm and a significant 190 mm wider at 1 745 mm.
Introduced to the world at the Geneva Motor Show in March this year, the Terios has already started to pick up awards, the latest being Germany's Red Dot Design Award.
Styling sees a strong front end with a "power bulge" design to the bonnet and large prominent combination projector headlights, indicators and parking lights.
There are twin fog lights in the under-bumper area.
Large wheel arches front and rear give the new Terios a bold and sporty appearance along the flanks, while previous owners will recognise the genes of the outgoing model in the strong C pillar and wrap-around rear window.
At the back there's a large side-opening rear door with the spare wheel mounted on it, a position which makes it easy to reach to change a punctured tyre, and also helps protect back seat occupants in a rear end collision.
The large combination tail lights/reversing lights on the new Terios are mounted just below the level of the shield-shaped rear window, and there's a high-level brake light inset into the top of the window.
Twin fog lights are mounted each side of the large colour-coded rear bumper.
Inside the car one immediately notices the sporty wraparound seats, designed to hold the driver and front passenger firmly in hard cornering, and the height-adjustable large head restraints, two in front and three in the rear.
A plus factor on the driver's seat is the large amount of driver's seat height adjustment, making this ideal for any size driver.
A seat height adjuster raises the driver's seat 31 mm or lowers it 15 mm; together with the high driver seat hip point (740 mm above the ground) this gives easy access and a commanding driving position.
Forward visibility is outstanding too, thanks to a large 36.7 degree vertical viewing angle.
The Terios also features tilt steering, and the adjustable seatbelt anchors slide up and down to accommodate people of various sizes.
The dashboard is completely new, with smooth flowing looks and an inset driver's "command panel".
Featuring a large metallic-look surround with deeply-inset instruments, the driver's panel see a large speedometer in the central position, flanked by slightly smaller gauges with a revcounter and fuel and water temperature gauges.
A powerful centre console dropdown is also finished in metallic-look plastic, with an attractive "retro" look. This contains controls for the heating and ventilation, as well as the audio system where specified.
There's also a between-seats stowage box as well as a lockable glovebox.
Under the bonnet lurks a brand-new 1 495 cm3 four-cylinder engine with double overhead camshafts, DVVT variable valve control, and fuel injection.
This produces 77 kW at 6 000 r/min and 140 Nm of torque at 4 400 r/min.
The engine feeds power via either a 5-speed manual gearbox or a 4-speed automatic transmission.
The 4x4 has permanent four-wheel drive with a centre differential lock for better grip in off-road driving.
The 4x2 version has rear-drive only.
Fuel economy, often the bane of 4x4 owners, is a plus factor on the Terios, with the manual version giving a combined EU cycle figure of 7.9 litres/100 km, and the automatic 8.4 litres/100 km.
Fuel tank capacity is 50 litres.
The Terios comes with MacPherson strut suspension at the front and a 5-link rigid rear axle on coil springs for added ruggedness, and ground clearance is a useful 200 mm.
Fat 215/65 R16 tyres on alloy wheels are standard.
Unlike many 4x4s the Terios has a tight turning circle, just 9.8 metres between kerbs.
Standard features include air conditioning and electric windows, as well as lots of cup and bottle holders, extra 12V power supply, an eye-wear compartment, under-seat stowage, and seatback pockets.
Safety features include dual front airbags, and the front seatbelts are equipped with pre-tensioners, while the rear seats come with ISOFIX child seat anchorage.
ABS brakes with electronic brakeforce distribution (EBD) and brake assist are standard.
On the road
I drove both the 4x2 and 4x4 models, the latter on a fairly rough course that the Terios handled well.
First up I was very impressed by the large amount of interior space - far more than expected from the compact outside dimensions.
In fact there's so much room in the back that I found that even with the front seat pushed back for a "six footer" there was still more than enough room for two big chaps in the back. Legroom is ample, and your feet fit nicely under the front seats.
We even managed to fit three "big 'uns" in the rear, though it was a cozy fit width-wise!
The off-road circuit we drove was really just a track through the bush, with the surface in places comprised of rocks twice as big as your fist.
With the centre diff. lock switched on the Terios clambered over the rocks with ease, and managed a couple of steepish climbs and descents with no problem at all, with nary a sign of bottoming out.
For off-road performance the approach angle is 38 degrees and the departure angle 37 degrees, with short overhangs front and rear.
OK, it's not an out-and-out 4x4 off-roader, but the four-wheel drive and centre diff. lock does mean it will handle most of the off-road situations normal people are going to encounter.
I also liked the way the Terios swallows luggage and just about anything else you care to mention.
Versatility is a strong point, and it can carry plenty of gear even with five adults on board.
The rear seats can be configured several ways, depending on cargo-carrying needs.
Fold down one seatback of the 60/40 split rear seat, and the Terios can carry long items.
Or you can fold and stow the rear seat totally creating a flat-floor luggage compartment that's big enough for a 26 inch mountain bike.
The luggage compartment floor is just 640 mm above the ground for easier loading and unloading. Luggage capacity with all seats erect is 380 litres (VDA).
Another plus point is the full stainless steel exhaust system with a laser welded rear silencer box.
The new 1.5-litre engine gives the Terios a lot more grunt than the old 1.3-litre model, despite that the car is larger than before, and a novel feature is that the air conditioner switches off briefly when extra power is required, for instance while overtaking.
There's no discernible difference in performance between the 4x2 model and the 4x4. Both sit exactly the same distance off the road, and there's only 40 kg difference in weight.
Service intervals are 15 000 km, and the car comes with a 3 year/100 000 km warranty.
- Terios 4x2 manual R169 995
- Terios 4x4 manual R179 995
- Terios 4x4 automatic R189 995.