Motoring: The Independent Road Test: High but not so mighty: The Nissan Terrano 2 is tall and manoeuvrable but lacks power, says Roger Bell

IMAGINE an estate car on stilts and you have a good impression of the Nissan Terrano 2 and its Ford Maverick twin. Apart from details - badging, front grilles and equipment, for instance - the latest recruits to the burgeoning 4x4 leisure market are identical.

Rather than design and build its own mudlark, Ford arranged with Nissan to buy Maverick-badged, Spanish-built Terranos for sale in its own showrooms. Thus both partners in slime achieved the economies of scale needed to be competitive in a sector that shows no signs of stalling. Land Rover, makers of the best-selling Discovery, shrugs aside the new opposition, asserting that it will simply expand the 4x4 sector, just as the Vauxhall Frontera did, without eroding its own dominant share.

Nissan describes the Terrano 2 (Terrano 1 was never imported) as an all-road vehicle that feels like an ordinary car to drive and ride in. There is nothing in it of the sumo wrestler, nothing that intimidates. Narrowing the body has done the styling no favours - loftiness needs to be balanced by width - but it does facilitate manoeuvrability, especially when squeezing through gaps between traffic or trees.

In cabin layout and design, the five-door Terrano (there is also a short-wheelbase three-door) is much like a seven-seater estate. Versatility is a keynote: the second and third rows of seats can be arranged in several ways, though the fold-away mechanism is rather complex. Beneath, big, knobbly tyres and high ground clearance clearly signal an affinity for bogs and burrows.

You sit comfortably, with a commanding view, behind a bland but friendly car-like dashboard. The only unfamiliar control is a second gear lever, used to engage four-wheel drive (rear drive only is used for the road, saving on fuel and tyre wear) and low ratio, employed for steep scrambling. Adequate muscle for wild terrain is provided by a refined and flexible 2.7-litre turbo-diesel which develops less top-end power (and less boomy thrash) than the alternative 2.4-litre petrol engine. It yields more torque, and that is what counts when lugging off-road, but all out on tarmac, neither engine delivers better than Ford Escort 1.4 performance, which is underwhelming for such an expensive vehicle.

Lightweight controls make the Terrano/Maverick feel more like a car than a truck. The assisted steering is mushy but easy, the gear change is light. Despite the lofty build, there is no impression of top-heaviness when hustling through corners. Big tyres grip the road well and firm suspension maintains an even keel. There are snags, however. The spare wheel, mounted on a side-hinged rear door that obstructs loading from the kerb, masks the view aft, making reversing tricky. The ride is also firm and fidgety, if not so gut-jarring as that of some rivals.

As a heavily compromised all-road vehicle, the Terrano excels only at being a jack of all trades; it masters none. For normal motoring, an ordinary estate (or multi-purpose vehicle) is quicker, quieter and smoother riding. It might well be cheaper and more economical, too. Although the Nissan's green-lane ability far exceeds the modest needs of most owners - banks and quagmires that

a 4x4 car would not even look at are broached with alacrity - there are better scamblers for the serious off-roader.

Prices range from pounds 15,000 (base three-door petrol Maverick) to more than pounds 20,000 (five-door turbo-diesel loaded with options - and there are many to choose from). Ford has the wider model range, Nissan the advantage of slightly lower prices, though exact comparisons are clouded by differences in specification.

SPECIFICATIONS

Nissan Terrano 2 five-door SLX, pounds 18,775 (equivalent Ford Maverick GLX pounds 19,700). Engine: 2.7-litre, four-cylinder turbo-diesel; 100bhp at 4,000rpm. Transmission: five-speed manual gearbox with normal and low ratios, part-time four-wheel drive. Performance: 0-60mph in 20 seconds, top speed 90mph. Economy: 25-32mpg derv.

COMPARISONS

Isuzu Trooper five-door turbo-diesel, pounds 19,149. New-look Trooper much better than old model; 3.1-litre turbo-diesel gives stronger performance than Terrano 2, but poorer economy. Go for Contender for class leadership.

Jeep Cherokee Limited 4.0, pounds 18,995. Muscular yank tank. Refined, fast and thirsty - comes only with four-speed automatic transmission and low-tech petrol engine. Good value but modest accommodation.

Land Rover Discovery five-door 2.5TDi, pounds 20,400. Big, butch and expensive. Style and social standing strong, though diesel engine rough, performance sluggish, handling ponderous. Cabin roomy, off-road ability outstanding.

Vauxhall Frontera five-door turbo-diesel, pounds 17,105. Whacky Thunderbirds styling disguises civilised five-seater estate, also sold with faster petrol engine. Best on-road handling of all the off-roaders, though cabin is dated. Keenly priced.

(Photograph omitted)

News
A 1930 image of the Karl Albrecht Spiritousen and Lebensmittel shop, Essen. The shop was opened by Karl and Theo Albrecht’s mother; the brothers later founded Aldi
people
Arts and Entertainment
Standing the test of time: Michael J Fox and Christopher Lloyd in 'Back to the Future'
filmA cult movie event aims to immerse audiences of 80,000 in ‘Back to the Future’. But has it lost its magic?
Sport
Louis van Gaal watches over Nani
transfers
Arts and Entertainment
Flora Spencer-Longhurst as Lavinia, William Houston as Titus Andronicus and Dyfan Dwyfor as Lucius
theatreThe Shakespeare play that proved too much for more than 100 people
PROMOTED VIDEO
News
exclusivePunk icon Viv Albertine on Sid Vicious, complacent white men, and why free love led to rape
Sport
New Real Madrid signing James Rodríguez with club president Florentino Perez
transfersColombian World Cup star completes £63m move to Spain
Arts and Entertainment
Stir crazy: Noel Fielding in 'Luxury Comedy 2: Tales from Painted Hawaii'
comedyAs ‘Luxury Comedy’ returns, Noel Fielding on why mainstream success scares him and what the future holds for 'The Boosh'
Life and Style
Flow chart: Karl Landsteiner discovered blood types in 1900, yet scientists have still not come up with an explanation for their existence
lifeAll of us have one. Yet even now, it’s a matter of debate what they’re for
Arts and Entertainment
'Weird Al' Yankovic, or Alfred Matthew, at the 2014 Los Angeles Film Festival Screening of
musicHis latest video is an ode to good grammar. But what do our experts think he’s missed out?
Travel
Hotel Tour d’Auvergne in Paris launches pay-what-you-want
travelIt seems fraught with financial risk, but the policy has its benefits
Arts and Entertainment
booksThe best children's books for this summer
Life and Style
News to me: family events were recorded in the personal columns
techFamily events used to be marked in the personal columns. But now Facebook has usurped that
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs General

    Business Development Manager (District Heating)

    £55000 Per Annum plus company car and bonus scheme: The Green Recruitment Comp...

    Lead Hand - QC

    competitive: Progressive Recruitment: Lead Hand - QCProgressive are recruiting...

    Chemical Engineer/Project Coordinator

    £40000 - £45000 per annum + competitive: Progressive Recruitment: Chemical Eng...

    Sustainability Manager

    Competitive: The Green Recruitment Company: Job Title: Scheme Manager (BREEAM)...

    Day In a Page

    Noel Fielding's 'Luxury Comedy': A land of the outright bizarre

    Noel Fielding's 'Luxury Comedy'

    A land of the outright bizarre
    What are the worst 'Word Crimes'?

    What are the worst 'Word Crimes'?

    ‘Weird Al’ Yankovic's latest video is an ode to good grammar. But what do The Independent’s experts think he’s missed out?
    Can Secret Cinema sell 80,000 'Back to the Future' tickets?

    The worst kept secret in cinema

    A cult movie event aims to immerse audiences of 80,000 in ‘Back to the Future’. But has it lost its magic?
    Facebook: The new hatched, matched and dispatched

    The new hatched, matched and dispatched

    Family events used to be marked in the personal columns. But now Facebook has usurped the ‘Births, Deaths and Marriages’ announcements
    Why do we have blood types?

    Are you my type?

    All of us have one but probably never wondered why. Yet even now, a century after blood types were discovered, it’s a matter of debate what they’re for
    Honesty box hotels: You decide how much you pay

    Honesty box hotels

    Five hotels in Paris now allow guests to pay only what they think their stay was worth. It seems fraught with financial risk, but the honesty policy has its benefit
    Commonwealth Games 2014: Why weight of pressure rests easy on Michael Jamieson’s shoulders

    Michael Jamieson: Why weight of pressure rests easy on his shoulders

    The Scottish swimmer is ready for ‘the biggest race of my life’ at the Commonwealth Games
    Some are reformed drug addicts. Some are single mums. All are on benefits. But now these so-called 'scroungers’ are fighting back

    The 'scroungers’ fight back

    The welfare claimants battling to alter stereotypes
    Amazing video shows Nasa 'flame extinguishment experiment' in action

    Fireballs in space

    Amazing video shows Nasa's 'flame extinguishment experiment' in action
    A Bible for billionaires

    A Bible for billionaires

    Find out why America's richest men are reading John Brookes
    Paranoid parenting is on the rise - and our children are suffering because of it

    Paranoid parenting is on the rise

    And our children are suffering because of it
    For sale: Island where the Magna Carta was sealed

    Magna Carta Island goes on sale

    Yours for a cool £4m
    Phone hacking scandal special report: The slide into crime at the 'News of the World'

    The hacker's tale: the slide into crime at the 'News of the World'

    Glenn Mulcaire was jailed for six months for intercepting phone messages. James Hanning tells his story in a new book. This is an extract
    We flinch, but there are degrees of paedophilia

    We flinch, but there are degrees of paedophilia

    Child abusers are not all the same, yet the idea of treating them differently in relation to the severity of their crimes has somehow become controversial
    The truth about conspiracy theories is that some require considering

    The truth about conspiracy theories is that some require considering

    For instance, did Isis kill the Israeli teenagers to trigger a war, asks Patrick Cockburn