Daihatsu's new Terios SUV, first announced in January, will have its world debut at the Geneva show and be released in SA in June or July.

Like the new Sirion its styling has a strong European flavour; Daihatsu aims to boost European sales from 32 000 in 2003 to 80 000 in 2008.

The UK Terios line-up will comprise:

  • 1.5 S (black only) - £12 995 (about R140 000)

  • 1.5 SX manual - £14 295 (R154 000)

  • 1.5 SE automatic - £14 995 (R161 000)

    The latter two models will be offered in red, blue black, silver or metallic grey.

    Accurate pricing for South Africa will be announced at the local launch.

    The new Terios has been designed with strong off-road styling cues, short front and rear overhangs, a long wheelbase and wide track.

    It's aimed at young families and older people looking for the traditional 4x4 qualities of visibility, bad-weather traction and versatility combined with small car running costs and manoeuvrability.

    At 4075mm long it's 230mm longer than the previous model and 190mm wider at 1745mm. Its wheelbase has grown 45mm to 2580 mm. It runs on 16" rims with 215/65 tyres on the S and automatic SE versions, and 235/60 rubber for the SX manual.

    The interior is about the same size as a mid-sized hatchback; a split fold-and-tumble rear seat liberates a 1290mm maximum floor length - long enough to take a mountain bike.

    With the rear seat in use the boot capacity is 380 litres.

    Its 1.5-litre engine is based on the new 1,3-litre Sirion, with its stroke lengthened to 91.8mm. Daihatsu quotes 77kW at 6000 revs and 140Nm at 4400rpm, thanks to variable valve timing; its torque curve is virtually flat from 3200 to 4000 rpm - the most frequently used rev-range in normal driving.

    The engine is mounted in-line ahead of a five-speed manual or four-speed automatic transmission; a centre differential transfers power with a fixed 50/50 torque split to the front and rear axles via separate propshafts. A fascia-mounted switch activates the electronically-controlled differential lock.

    Daihatsu claims a top speed of almost 160km/h for the manuals and more than 150km/h for the automatic; along with fuel consumption of seven litres/100km (manual) and 7.13 litres/100km (auto)

    New chassis

    The new Terios has front Macpherson struts with lower wishbones and a revised anti-roll bar while the hydraulic power-assisted rack and pinion steering gear has been redesigned for improved accuracy and feel.

    The five-link rear suspension has a newly-designed upper control arm and a new lateral rod to reduce axle squirm while its more compact design results in a lower boot floor.

    Crushable structures are used at the front and rear while the front floor cross-member, tunnel, sills, B-pillars and roof-side rails are all strengthened to secure the cabin.

    The front bumper and bonnet are designed to minimise injury to a pedestrian's the head and thigh with a shock-absorbing structure built into the bonnet.

    Driver, passenger and side crash bags are standard, as are ABS brakes with electronic brake pressure distribution.

    Comprehensive specification

    The entry-level Terios 1.5 S has air-conditioning, power-steering, full-time four-wheel drive with centre diff-lock, three-point seatbelts for all five seats, radio/CD player, electric windows and reverse parking sensors.

    The 1.5 SX adds alloy rims with 235/60 tyres, two-tone wheel arch extensions and side-skirts, roof rails, trip computer, front fog-lamps, smoked "privacy glass" for the rear side doors and rear window, leather steering wheel, electric windscreen de-icer and door mirrors, 12V power sockets and load-restraint ties.

    The automatic transmission Terios 1.5 SE has a similar equipment level to the SX but with different alloy rims, 215/65 tyres and colour-keyed side skirts.