05/10/2006 00:00 | By By Kyle Fortune

On test: Daihatsu Terios 1.5 SX review (2006 onwards model)

Daihatsu Terios (© Image © Daihatsu)

  • Model: Daihatsu Terios SX
  • Bodystyle: SUV
  • Engine: 1.5-litre four-cylinder, petrol#
  • Transmission: five-speed manual

What is it?

Something of an anomaly. The Terios is one of only a tiny number of junior SUVs on the market. Indeed, the only car in the UK really coming close to offering a similar ‘proper compact 4x4’ is Suzuki’s Jimny. The Terios is the newer of the pair, too. It blends a pleasing chunky style, 4x4 underpinnings into a package that takes up barely more space on the road than the latest generation of superminis. Quite who it’s aimed at is questionable though. Daihatsu claim it’ll appeal to young families and older people wanting ‘traditional 4x4 qualities of visibility, bad weather traction and versatility with small car running costs and manoeuvrability’.

##%A side-by-side comparison of the Terios and the Jimny[[%LNK|CompareOverview||||444^^3228092006,127^^73607012005%]]1%##

Where does it fit?

That’s a good question, particularly as it doesn’t really have any direct rivals. It’s smaller than traditional entry-level 4x4s like the Toyota Rav4, but still offers a good degree of off-road ability. It comes with full-time 4x4 and a diff-lock, so if you actually need your Terios to go off-road rather than just look the part then you shouldn’t get stranded. Increasingly the Terios faces competition from supermini-based rivals that offer chunky looks – without the Terios’ ultimate off-road ability.

Is it for you?

If you actually need a vehicle with off-road ability but want small running costs and sensible pricing then the Terios is a decent enough starting point. It’s a rugged little performer, the locking diff and full-time four-wheel-drive system giving it remarkable ability when off-road. But that does mean there are some on-road compromises. The ride’s very bouncy as a result, and any normal hatchback rivals will run rings around it on the road. However, if you’re sold on it off-road looks and ability and need a compact package, then the Terios is pretty much the only option available to you.

What does it do well?

Get stuck in. The Terios has ability to back up its looks. It’s a good looker too, and for a car with off-road ability it feels very wieldy around town. It’s also pretty well specified, with air-conditioning and reverse parking sensors on even the entry-level S model. Fold the seats and there’s enough space to get a mountain bike in, while even with the seats in place the boot is a good size. The lofty driving position, like all 4x4s, gives you a good view of the road ahead, and the Terios’ relatively compact dimensions makes it easy to park. A 3 star pedestrian protection score in the NCAP tests is also impressive.

##%A detailed look at the interior of the Terios[[%LNK|VipInterior||Daihatsu|Terios|3228092006%]]3%##

What doesn’t it do well?

It might be good off-road, but you’re undoubtedly compromised on the road as a result. The Terios bounces along on its lofty suspension, and isn’t the most comfortable as a result. The plastics inside aren’t up to the quality of many rivals and the 1.5-litre engine needs working very hard to produce its best. Even then it’s very noisy. Daihatsu makes a big deal of its ‘politically correct’ combined consumption of 34.9mpg but we doubt you’ll get close to that in day-to-day use. A diesel engine would be much more impressive. The gearshift is rather long in throw and not the most accurate, either. You’ll soon tire of the parking sensor’s incessant beeping every time you put it into reverse, too.

What’s it like to live with?

Despite our comments above the Terios isn’t without charm. We covered many hundreds of miles in it and although it never got our pulses racing its lofty, chunky stance and useful boot did appeal – a luggage cover would have been useful though. You do have to really work it hard to keep up with fast traffic though, which does nothing for its consumption. Standard air conditioning is a good thing, and Daihatsus have a good reputation for reliability - so ownership should be relatively hassle-free.

How green is it?

Despite Daihatsu keenly pointing out the 39.8mpg extra urban consumption as ‘politically correct’, it’s unlikely that many drivers will get anywhere near to achieving it. We struggled to get anywhere near the 34.9mpg combined consumption - even over varied use and long motorway journeys. CO2 emissions of 191g/km is pretty respectable, but the Terios would undoubtedly perform better with a turbodiesel engine, both in consumption and driveability.

Would we buy it?

It’s unlikely. Unless we really needed its compact dimensions and off-road ability we’d look elsewhere. A used Toyota Rav4 is a far more desirable proposition both in the way it drives and spaciousness, while a Skoda Octavia 4x4 would do virtually everything the Terios can off-road, while offering a far superior on-road experience. Similarly Fiat’s Sedici and Suzuki’s SX4 offer hatchback versatility with some off-road ability, jacked up suspension and chunky looks. So the Terios is an anomaly, and one you’ll need to really want to put up with its compromises.

##%Compare the Terios, Fiat and VW Dune[[%LNK|CompareOverview||||444^^3228092006,646^^73560632006,195^^73198782007%]]2%##


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