Fleet News

Nissan Terrano/Pickup

Nissan

Review

LIFE cycles for traditional four-wheel drive vehicles tend to be the longest in the motor industry.

Nissan points this out when talking about the new Terrano, which will go on sale in the UK next month and is the same basic shape it shared with the original Ford Maverick in 1993.

It soldiers on as a proper off-roader following the launch last autumn of the new X-trail SUV, and as well as the existing 2.7-litre turbodiesel engine, it also gains the option of the 3.0-litre direct injection diesel from the giant Nissan Patrol.

Unlike the X-trail, where drivers might previously have been behind the wheel of an upper-medium car, Terrano drivers rate off-road performance as highly as on-road performance and would have a true need for off-road ability.

Terranos are often bought with towing in mind and rivals for the three-door variant range from the Land Rover Defender to the Vauxhall Frontera Sport and three-door versions of the Mitsubishi Shogun, while the five-door, with seven-seat capability, is expected to steal sales from the Land Rover Discovery.

Standard features on the entry-level Terrano S include a driver and passenger airbag, ABS with electronic brake force distribution (EBD), remote central locking with alarm, electric sunroof, electric windows and CD/radio.

SE models also include side airbags, active front head restraints, a chrome grille, electrically adjustable and heated door mirrors, air conditioning in lieu of sunroof, a tasteless wood effect centre console and steering wheel mounted audio controls.

The range-topping SVE adds darkened glass windows behind the B-pillar, roof rails, leather seats, heated front seats, sunroof plus air-con, metallic paint, roof rails and a six-CD autochanger.

Not content with a facelift for the Terrano, Nissan has also launched a revised pickup range, with a new, more powerful engine, and price cuts across the board.

The Pickup is available in Standard Cab, King Cab, Double Cab and high-spec Navara versions, and uses a new 2.5-litre direct injection diesel engine. The Standard car will seat three across a single bench seat, while the King cab has two occasional seats behind and both are equipped with driver's airbag and radio/cassette.

The Double Cab includes four electric windows, electric mirrors and central locking, while the Navara has colour-coded attachments, chrome side steps, heated chrome mirrors and ABS.

Interior features include velour seats, white-faced instruments, a CD/radio and passenger airbag.

Standard Cab, King Cab and Double Cab are typically bought as workhorse vehicles while the Navara has a dual purpose, doubling as a business vehicle and family car. There could be more interest in the car-like specification of the Navara as commercial drivers could select it while still paying commercial vehicle benefit-in-kind taxation based on a flat rate of £500 a year.

Nissan claims that the Terrano was the best selling off-roader in fleet during 2001 with total sales of just under 3,000, and fleet taking about 65%. Terrano van sales reached 331.

Nissan aims to sell 2,000 Terranos in 2002 with 45% expected to be the new 3.0 Di, while 1,000 Pickups are expected to leave showrooms this year with 40% in range-topping Navara spec.

Behind the wheel

NISSAN chose a rain-soaked day in Rome to hand out the keys to its new models, with our route taking us north towards Tuscany via a couple of off-road sections plus a muddy off-road driving centre.

The brawny Pickup was the first vehicle put to the test, and its new 2.5-litre direct injection turbodiesel seemed eager to get on with the task offering plenty of low-down torque.

With a high centre of gravity and leaf-springs at the rear, it was never going to be a car-like driving experience, and the Navara spec model seemed to gallop along as the weight changed ends under acceleration.

Short gearing means motorway runs tend to be a noisy affair at a constant 70mph but although it looks unwieldy it is rather easier to drive than its butch appearance suggests, with smooth acceleration and light but positive steering.

The Pickup made light work of waterlogged gravel tracks and with 50/50 tyres fitted managed some particularly muddy stretches with limited sideways movement, thanks also to only the gentlest persuasion from the throttle. Too much and the Pickup would slither from side to side as it fought to find grip - a nerve-wracking experience when there were ditches either side of the track.

With enormous ground clearance, it was happy to tramp across the deepest rutted tracks and shrug off rocky terrain.

The three-door Terrano, with its short wheelbase, does not feel as comfortable as the Pickup and has a bouncy quality to its ride. However, is it less of a handful around tighter bends.

Its behaviour is spoilt slightly by having a little too much steering to do to return the wheel to the centre from full lock.

The 3.0-litre turbodiesel provides huge torque which gives the three-door Terrano sprightly performance.

However, selecting the automatic gearbox means even more torque. We sampled the transmission in the long wheelbase Terrano, and it offers 253lb-ft of torque as opposed to 224lb-ft for the manual.

The reason is that the manual is not capable of handling any more, while the auto is, so rather than offer a new, heavier manual transmission to fully exploit the new engine, the extra beefy version is only available with a slushbox.

Despite the engine noise, the long wheelbase Terrano is a comfortable cruiser which is still adept at crossing rough terrain, and in SVE trim you can expect most of the goodies you would find in a range-topping car. Driving verdict

ALL of these vehicles are capable off-roaders and the Pickup in particular should be a useful workhorse.

They are old-school 4x4s with wallowy handling and vague steering, but serve a purpose and the Terrano is well equipped for the price, while the Navara importantly offers twin airbags and ABS.

There is plenty to attract those who need true four-wheel drive ability but to not want to miss out on the creature comforts of everyday cars.

  • Will the Nissan Terrano or Pickup find a place on your fleet? Email your views to fleetnews@emap.com
  • CO2 emissions and fuel consumption data correct at time of writing. The latest figures are available in the Fleet News fuel cost calculator and the company car tax calculator.

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