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)

Life and Style
Google celebrates the 126th anniversary of the Eiffel Tower opening its doors to the public for the first time
techGoogle celebrates Paris's iconic landmark, which opened to the public 126 years ago today
News
Cleopatra the tortoise suffers from a painful disease that causes her shell to disintegrate; her new prosthetic one has been custom-made for her using 3D printing technology
newsCleopatra had been suffering from 'pyramiding'
Life and Style
Baroness Lane-Fox warned that large companies such as have become so powerful that governments and regulators are left behind
techTech giants have left governments and regulators behind
News
people
Arts and Entertainment
Coachella and Lollapalooza festivals have both listed the selfie stick devices as “prohibited items”
music
Sport
Nigel Owens was targeted on Twitter because of his sexuality during the Six Nations finale between England and France earlier this month
rugbyReferee Nigel Owens on coming out, and homophobic Twitter abuse
Arts and Entertainment
Tracey Emin visits her 1990s work ‘My Bed’ at Tate Britain in London, where it is back on display from today
artsBut how does the iconic work stand up, 16 years on?
  • Get to the point
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

    Recruitment Genius: Senior Web Designer / Front End Developer

    £28000 - £32000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This fast expanding web managem...

    Ashdown Group: Trainee Consultant - Surrey / South West London

    £22000 per annum + pension,bonus,career progression: Ashdown Group: An establi...

    Ashdown Group: Trainee Consultant - Surrey/ South West London

    £22000 per annum + pension,bonus,career progression: Ashdown Group: An establi...

    Ashdown Group: Recruitment Consultant / Account Manager - Surrey / SW London

    £40000 per annum + realistic targets: Ashdown Group: A thriving recruitment co...

    Day In a Page

    No postcode? No vote

    Floating voters

    How living on a houseboat meant I didn't officially 'exist'
    Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin

    By Reason of Insanity

    Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin
    Power dressing is back – but no shoulderpads!

    Power dressing is back

    But banish all thoughts of Eighties shoulderpads
    Spanish stone-age cave paintings 'under threat' after being re-opened to the public

    Spanish stone-age cave paintings in Altamira 'under threat'

    Caves were re-opened to the public
    'I was the bookies’ favourite to be first to leave the Cabinet'

    Vince Cable interview

    'I was the bookies’ favourite to be first to leave the Cabinet'
    Election 2015: How many of the Government's coalition agreement promises have been kept?

    Promises, promises

    But how many coalition agreement pledges have been kept?
    The Gaza fisherman who built his own reef - and was shot dead there by an Israeli gunboat

    The death of a Gaza fisherman

    He built his own reef, and was fatally shot there by an Israeli gunboat
    Saudi Arabia's airstrikes in Yemen are fuelling the Gulf's fire

    Saudi airstrikes are fuelling the Gulf's fire

    Arab intervention in Yemen risks entrenching Sunni-Shia divide and handing a victory to Isis, says Patrick Cockburn
    Zayn Malik's departure from One Direction shows the perils of fame in the age of social media

    The only direction Zayn could go

    We wince at the anguish of One Direction's fans, but Malik's departure shows the perils of fame in the age of social media
    Young Magician of the Year 2015: Meet the schoolgirl from Newcastle who has her heart set on being the competition's first female winner

    Spells like teen spirit

    A 16-year-old from Newcastle has set her heart on being the first female to win Young Magician of the Year. Jonathan Owen meets her
    Jonathan Anderson: If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

    If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

    British designer Jonathan Anderson is putting his stamp on venerable house Loewe
    Number plates scheme could provide a licence to offend in the land of the free

    Licence to offend in the land of the free

    Cash-strapped states have hit on a way of making money out of drivers that may be in collision with the First Amendment, says Rupert Cornwell
    From farm to fork: Meet the Cornish fishermen, vegetable-growers and butchers causing a stir in London's top restaurants

    From farm to fork in Cornwall

    One man is bringing together Cornwall's most accomplished growers, fishermen and butchers with London's best chefs to put the finest, freshest produce on the plates of some of the country’s best restaurants
    Robert Parker interview: The world's top wine critic on tasting 10,000 bottles a year, absurd drinking notes and New World wannabes

    Robert Parker interview

    The world's top wine critic on tasting 10,000 bottles a year, absurd drinking notes and New World wannabes
    Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

    Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

    We exaggerate regional traits and turn them into jokes - and those on the receiving end are in on it too, says DJ Taylor