By Kingsley Wijayasinha
The Nation Weekend
It took Nissan many years, but the Japanese automaker has finally come up with a pickup passenger vehicle (PPV) based on its Navara pickup truck.
The Terra is the latest member in Thailand’s PPV market, which also includes the Toyota Fortuner, Isuzu Mu-X, Ford Everest, Chevrolet Trailblazer and Mitsubishi Pajero Sport. It’s a fast-growing market, with Thai consumers attracted to the SUV-like qualities as well as the generous interior space offered by the concept.
Since the Navara was launched several years ago, I’ve been asking Nissan executives every year about launching a PPV version. But the answer was always no, and I eventually gave up asking.
But then last year Nissan finally introduced the Terra, first in China in April, and then the next month in the Philippines, where the Asean launch was later held. It will also be sold in Indonesia, Brunei, Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar and Vietnam.
In Thailand, the Terra was officially launched in August, and helped Nissan expand its product portfolio.
The X-Trail SUV, despite being a pretty attractive SUV with a hybrid powertrain available, was not very successful here. The Terra is expected to do a better job at winning customers.
While the X-Trail appeals to city-dwellers who aren’t into genuine heavy off-roading, the frame-based Terra is designed to offer the toughness and capability that would allow it to conquer more adventurous terrain.
The Terra banks on the front design of the Navara with its V-shaped chrome grille/boomerang LED headlamps. It looks pretty intimidating with its large wheel fenders housing the 18-inch alloy wheels wearing 255/60 tires. It also features seven seats, with the second row offering a full-flat folding feature through the One-Touch Remote fold button on the console or manually via the lever.
The Terra is powered by a new twin-turbo 2.3-litre diesel engine with direct fuel injection. The two turbochargers team up to provide quicker torque delivery than the previous 2.5-litre turbo engine (which is still used in the Terra sold in the Philippines and also offering 190hp and 450Nm) and better fuel economy. The Thai version gets 190hp and 450Nm of torque at 1,500-2,500rpm, compared to 2,000rpm for the 2.5-litre unit.
The engine is mated to a seven-speed automatic transmission, with the extra ratio helping maintain an average fuel economy of 13.1km/litre. Still, despite the large amount of torque, don’t expect the Terra to accelerate like a sports car. The first-gear ratio has been tailored for good off-road performance rather than speed, and it’s when the second gear shifts in that you feel the Terra start accelerating more comfortably.
The steering (offering a turning circle of 11.4 metres, is pretty heavy and would be cumbersome for less muscular drivers, especially during parking situations. I felt that it was good exercise for my arms during the week I had the Terra with me.
I borrowed the 2.3VL 4WD version, which came with an electronic rear locking differential and shift-on-the-fly for 2WD and 4WD, plus a low range for demanding off-road conditions like sand or rocks. It has a ground clearance of 225mm (best-in-class) which helps lower the chance of damaging the underbody.
Being the last player to enter the market, the Terra needed to have something that others don’t. Nissan has put in advanced features like the Intelligent Rear View Mirror – basically an LCD screen that solves the problem of rear passengers or luggage blocking the rear view (since the camera is located at the rear of the vehicle). As well, an Intelligent Around View Monitor provides a bird’s eye view from above to make parking the 4.8-metre PPV easy.
There are also Moving Object Detection, Intelligent Blind Sport Intervention (audio and light alerts, no steering wheel vibration) and Intelligent Lane Intervention (70km/h and above). Vehicle Dynamic Control, Traction Control System, Hill Start Assistance and Hill Descent Control are also included in the Terra’s outstanding driver assist package.
Inside the Terra, there are three-point seatbelts for all seven occupants and a total of six airbags. Apart from general information, the dashboard monitor also has an Off-road Meter that tells the driver about the tilt angle. There’s also a Tire Pressure Monitoring system that ensures safety and full tire lifespan.
The entertainment system has a 7-inch touchscreen that also doubles as navigation. There are air vents for all three rows of seats, and cupholders too.
While the 4WD model is priced at Bt1.427 million, those who don’t need 4WD could consider the 2WD versions are priced at Bt1.316 million to Bt1.349 million. By the way, Nissan says pricing of the Terra will be raised by Bt50,000 starting next month, so those who are interested should hurry.
Nissan Terra 2.3 VL 4WD specs
Engine: 4-cylinder DOHC 16-valve turbocharged commonrail diesel
Bore and stroke: 85.0x101.3mm
Compression ratio: 15.4:1
Max power: 190ps/3,750rpm
Max torque: 450Nm/1,500-2,500rpm
Transmission: 7-speed automatic
Final drive ratio: 3.357
0-100 kmh: n/a
Top speed: n/a
Fuel economy (city): 10.7km/litre
Fuel economy (highway): 15.3km/litre
Fuel economy (average): 13.1km/litre
Average CO2: 200g/km
Suspension (f/r): double wishbone/multi-link
Steering: powered rack-and-pinion
Turning circle: 11.4 metres
Brakes (f/r): vented disc/drum
Track (f/r): n/a
Ground clearance: 225mm
Wheels: 18-in alloys
Tyres: 255/60 R18
Fuel tank capacity: 80 litres
Price: Bt1.427 million
Distributor: Nissan Motor Thailand Co Ltd