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Reader test: Nissan Terrano

2009-09-15 07:45

Johann Maree, Secunda

I like being different from the crowd when it comes to cars. That’s why I won’t ever buy a Polo, Toyota or any other “popular” car. So, naturally, the same applies when it comes to an off-roader.

When replacing my old daily with something more capable, I narrowed the options list down to a Discovery, Pajero and Terrano. My heart said Nissan, but I gave the others a fighting chance.

The Disco’s maintenance is expensive and a Land Rover without an oil leak doesn’t have any in it. The Pajero didn’t have ABS or airbags and honestly, I don’t like the look.

So I settled for this 2000 model Nissan Terrano II 2.7 TDi LWB with ABS, EBD, airbags, remote central locking, electric windows, aircon, nudgebar with spotlights and sidesteps. It had 174 000 km on the odo with a service history from Nissan and was very well looked after.


When it comes to performance I can’t really complain. It has a 2.7 turbodiesel four- cylinder with top mounted intercooler, delivering 92 kW at 3 600 r/min and 278 Nm at 2 000 r/min.

When new, it was tested to do 0-100 in 15.4 seconds and top out at 155km/h.

In my experience it’s quick enough to outsprint a Hardbody 3.0TD from standstill and it can easily cruise at an indicated 140km/h. Overtaking requires some space, but it’s faster than many smaller cars on the road.

Fuel consumption averages 9.4 km/l in town and up to 10.5 km/l on the road. The worst I ever got was 7.8km/l, which included sand dune driving.


So – how does it go off-road? Some people dismiss the Terrano as a softroader, but I can assure you this vehicle is more capable than I am. I have thrown sand, rocks and mud at it on various trails and it is yet to disappoint me. And yes, it does have low-range!

It has independent front suspension and a solid axle suspended by coil springs at the back. Wheel travel at the back is very good, but the front can’t compare with that of a Patrol or Discovery.

It has a limited slip diff at the back. This requires more skill to get through obstacles than a normal diff-lock equipped vehicle, but it also makes for some very entertaining and controllable sideways action on gravel and wet tar when provoked… The only real problems I have with it off-road are the departure and break-over angles.


The inside is a very comfortable place to be. The seating position is quite high up, but this helps off-road. The dash is more car-like than the new Isuzu KB and the controls are where you expect them. It can seat five adults and two children or two adults and a truck load of gear in the back as the middle row of seats can also fold away.


To me, a car that can’t make me smile or enjoy driving it is useless. The Terrano was a very good choice – it can do something of everything.

Yes, it has a couple of rattles, yes, the tyres are expensive and yes, Nissan’s parts pricing is ridiculous, but it has never failed me and believe me, going sideways in something this big brings a smile to my face!  

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