Rugged-looking Terios not a runner
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On paper, the Terios LWB appears to be a lot of car. Air conditioning, electric this and that, seats for seven and SUV styling. In reality, though, it battles to deliver in anything but a mom's taxi role.
It is certainly big enough, but the extra size counts against the Terios as the 77kW, 1.5-litre engine isn't quite up to the task, which pretty much rules out using it as a distance driver.
The Terios's gearing - maybe deliberately short to provide some oomph if the seven seats are all full? - means that the engine is howling at freeway speeds, and even around town the ‘box feels like it needs another cog.
The high ride, while good from a visibility point of view, counts against the Terios, as it feels skittish in crosswinds, especially when empty, and there is very little steering feedback.
It also seems with that extra size, and the small engine, compromises have to be made, and the quest for lightness means that the bodywork has a tinny feel, and a lot of noise intrudes into the cabin due to insufficient sound deadening. Again, not what you want on a long trip.
Standard equipment includes electric windows, central locking, air con, power steering, ABS, seat belts with pre-tensioners and force limiters as well as dual front airbags, cup holders and Isofix anchorage for children's seats.
The cabin itself is sparsely finished, yet despite the lack of gadgetry, the stuff that was there felt decidedly low rent, and poorly finished - some of the controls seemed to have been added as an afterthought.
A prime example was the rear window heater switch, which is mounted to the right of, and easily obscured by, the steering wheel, so it is easy to overlook that the switch has been left on.
The radio/CD combination also leaves a lot to be desired - in this day and age one would have expected RDS to be standard - and it struggles to be heard above the previously mentioned noise. The satellite controls on the steering wheel for the sound system also feel cheap and flimsy.
But the Terios is, after all, about space, and while the rearmost seats can best be described as “occasional”, the centre row of three is generous both in legroom and width, and because of the longer wheelbase, doesn't give that horrible wallowing feel one gets when sitting over the rear axle.
A nice touch is the separate air-conditioner feed behind the front seats, with controls adjustable from the central row of seats.
Luggage space, with a full complement of passengers, is limited, but the rear seats fold down for a completely flat loading area, which, in our tests, swallowed quite a lot of bulky items.
Daihatsu has become known for its reliability, and there's no reason the Terios, with its tried-and-tested mechanicals, should leave you stranded anywhere - and that's especially important if you are commuting with young ones.
Also, from a safety aspect, the Terios features dual side-impact beams and a high-strength cabin structure, to keep the passenger safety cell intact.
For the school run, or as a shopping car, it makes sense. As a “lifestyle” vehicle, to justify its rugged looks, it doesn't.
The Terios LWB starts at R224 995 for the seven-seater, R234 995 for the automatic and R244 995 for the four-wheel drive.
That includes a three-year or 100 000km warranty and a standard three-year, 75 000km service plan. - Argus Motoring