UK Car Road Test

Nissan Terrano Sport 2002

 


Nissan Terrano 2
Sport 2.7 Turbo Di. 2002

This huge 4x4 is tested in the five door long wheel base model. Its also available in a short wheel base guise which is very much smaller.

Launched back in 000 and given modest facelifts, it is readily available in the second hand car market. The Terrano is a very affordable 4x4 and holds reasonably good values. A moderate car on paper with a moderate price tag, moderate being typical of this car.                 

 

The first and most striking appearance is the physical size of this bus. It's not excessively wide but is very tall and very, very long. Colour coding is standard in subtle two tone colours, this one being a tasteful silver over grey with subtle matt black window surrounds and striking silver alloy wheels.

This Terrano has fitted chrome side steps which add a classy touch to the overall appearance to this huge off-road car. Subtle colours and body lines do not suggest that this is a rugged 4x4 as it is without comfortable ride and offers terrible manoeuvrability.

Get past the acceptable exterior of this car and you see the ghastly interior is very off-putting, The seats are acceptable in a dark grey half leather trim and a hard wearing cloth inner seat. All fine then? Absolutely not. Check out the beige! Who in their right mind would choose such a colour scene? Is it only available in this co-ordination? It's not tasteful or practical and very much detracts from the (just about) overall acceptance of this huge car.

Quality is reasonably high in the seating itself, the stitching is good and the leather is hardly worn on this model bearing in mind the 72,000 miles it has covered. Not so good are the door panels which are cheap plastic and give unappealing looks.

 

In an age when most cars carry a great amount of specification, 4x4 models are almost leading the way. Indeed, with cars like the Mercedes ML class and the BMW X5 they are somewhat by-passing the saloon market. Allowing for the fuel efficient engines, 4x4s are close in value to the high class saloon market.
In standard format this car comes with half leather sports seating, air conditioning and 4 speaker stereo with steering remote control fitted. Standard items they may be now but this is supposed to be an off-road workhorse. Not so long ago electric windows and power assisted steering were high spec. No longer would this level of standard equipment be tolerated by any switched-on consumer. 

Industrial and simple.

Yet another colour scheme?

Anti theft stereo. But who would want it anyway? Fiddly looking remote.

Electric windows are fitted to all four windows and the operation switches are awkwardly placed quite low down in the centre consul area. Roof rails are fitted but you would need to be a basketball player to reach them or carry a pair of ladders to access the roof if anything was attached. At 181cm cms tall to start with you couldn't wash the roof of this car never mind load luggage onto it.

 

Comfort Features
Adjustable Steering Column
Adjustable Steering Column
Cup holders
Cup holders
Drivers seat Lumbar Support
Drivers seat Lumbar Support
Front Door Bins
Front Door Bins
Head Rests (front & rear)
Head Rests (front & rear)
Height Adjustable Drivers Seat
Height Adjustable Drivers Seat
Height Adjustable Seat Belts
Height Adjustable Seat Belts
Pollen Filter
Pollen Filter
Remote Petrol Cap Release
Remote Petrol Cap Release
Split rear seats
Split rear seats
Time Clock
Time Clock
General Features
12 V Accessory Power Point
12 V Accessory Power Point
Colour Coded Bumpers
Colour Coded Bumpers
Colour Coded Mirrors
Colour Coded Mirrors
Digital Odometer
Digital Odometer
Exterior Side Mouldings
Exterior Side Mouldings
Heated Rear Window
Heated Rear Window
Rear Wash Wipe
Rear Wash Wipe
Tinted Windows
Tinted Windows
Luxury Features
Air Conditioning
Air Conditioning
Cigarette Lighter
Cigarette Lighter
Electric Mirrors
Electric Mirrors
Electric Windows (front & rear)
Electric Windows (front & rear)
Half Leather Trim
Half Leather Trim
Heated Mirrors
Heated Mirrors
Radio CD Player
Radio CD Player
Trip Counter
Trip Counter

 

 

The power unit for this monstrous car is a modest 2.7 four cylinder turbo diesel, mounted front to rear. It's enhanced with a top mounted inter-cooler and the engine powers the rear wheels in normal use. The four wheel drive is manually selectable and greatly reduces performance and fuel efficiency. This engine is a Nissan unit and produced by the thousand for use in other cars such as the Metro London Taxis, Although now replaced by the very efficient Ford diesel engine, this does not detract from the fact that it is still a great all-round plodder.

Grande car with petite engine

Air cooled inter-cooler

As with most modern diesel engines, the ease to which this car starts is not unlike many petrol engines. No excessive cranking on the starter motor is required and diesel is by far the best fuel for a 4x4, providing great torque and better mpg figures than petrol units. It lacks any urgency, though, and tends to become quite noisy when hurried along. Basically you cannot hurry this car. When driving, man and machine become one (one very lazy Nissan). Any driver effort to accelerate is restricted by a car which behaves like a sloth. Given the chance this car would stop for a breather after a quick sprint. Allowed to sedately rumble along, it will and with reasonable pleasure and reassurance. Accept the lack of speed and the high gearing and any drivers style of driving will instantly alter. You suddenly find yourself  below any imposed speed limits, making absolutely no effort to overtake anything other than a fully-laden milk float (battery powered of course) and any hormones influencing you before you started the drive will have been sedated with the charisma of this car by the time you finish. 

Is this car badged as a Sport as a Mick take? There is little about this car that can be classed as sporty either regarding the power output or the performance.

 

The excessive badges are a Japanese trait as most cars from the Far East have lots of identity to tell those who do not own them what they are. But then does most of Joe Public know what 2.7TDintercooler means? Probably not. They also probably would not know what to do with the second gear selector. It provides four wheel drive when required but in low and high ratios. When selected, the power output to the drive wheels is considerably less and the transmission and axle noise is far higher than the already high levels.

The clutch is light for the weight of the car and the gear selection is easy and precise. I found the gear-stick to be puny and felt like the wrong end of a walking stick on your palm.

Service Interval Insurance Group Safety Rating Smog Rating
18000 14 Not Available Band (D)
Engine BHP CC Fuel Inj.
Turbo Diesel 4 Cylinder 123 2664 No
Cyl Camshafts Valves/cyl Compressor
4 Single 2 Turbo Charger
Top Speed 0 to 60 BHP per Tonne
96mph 16.7seconds 66
MPG@Urban MPG@Cruise MPG@Speed Fuel Type
23.7mpg 32.5mpg 28.5mpg Diesel
Kerb Weight Tow Weight Length Width Height
1875kg 2800kg 472cm 175cm 181cm
Boot Seats/up Boot Seats/Down Seats
0 Litres 1641 Litres 7

The Terrano does have a suspension, of course it does. It's just that when driving it you wouldn't think so. The setup is torsion independent to the front and rigid beam axle to the rear. I accept that, off road, this car would be up to the task but then who drives one off road? Surely any Sport-alloyed-metallic-chrome-featured car is not intended for off road use? So why have Nissan not made the suspension better than your average Metro Taxi or Transit van?

Fancy wheels. Do they justify the sport logo?

6,000 rpm I doubt it!

You can of course throw this car into a corner but, unlike many other 4x4 cars I have driven, you are not guaranteed to exit where you predicted. The steering is power assisted and is a steering box with a multiple link system which is an alternative to a steering rack. The problem with the steering box is that it has another smaller idler and several links which all contribute to the play and, ultimately, the drivers feedback and accuracy of direction. Of course, off road this system works well as general direction is good enough, but when driving on our UK roads (such as the M25 or M1) precision is far better than a guidance system. 

Criticising this car's steering is a little unfair; it's very rugged and very reliable as it should be in a 4X4 car. Mechanically it is only when the road wheels rise and fall that it adjusts the distance between the wheel and the steering arms and this is what causes the vague steering effects. This happens because the arms are fixed so it is the steering geometry which gives way and therefore the true direction is compromised. Off road, of course, this is not so important. It requires strength and ability to cope with severe undulations and other obstacles and it is in these circumstances that it truly shines. The Terrano chassis also contributes to the handling; with such high ground clearance and a high centre of gravity, stability at speed is very apparent unlike a normal saloon car. 

To sum the steering:

If you require an off road trailer puller, boat launcher or field digger the Terrano will impress. If you are a school run parent who plods daily to and from school the Terrano will pass. If you enjoy driving and like to apply more than .00001 G's when cornering, the Terrano will leave you very upset. 

 

Steer/Susp/Tech Features
2 Speed Transfer Box
2 Speed Transfer Box
Alloy Wheels
Alloy Wheels
Catalytic Converter
Catalytic Converter
Disc Brake (front)
Disc Brake (front)
Free Wheel Front Hubs
Free Wheel Front Hubs
Front Fog lamps fitted
Front Fog lamps fitted
Halogen Head Lights
Halogen Head Lights
Height Adjustable Headlight Aim
Height Adjustable Headlight Aim
Independent Suspension
Independent Suspension
Intermittent Wash Wipe
Intermittent Wash Wipe
Service Level Indicator
Service Level Indicator
Power Assisted Steering
Power Assisted Steering
Rev Counter
Rev Counter

As with other 4x4 cars the best safety feature is the physical size of this thing. If you collided with a Mini Metro at night and did not see it you would continue without any knowledge. Weighing in at a whopping 1875KG's this beast is very capable of looking after itself and its occupants. Of course, safety is fitted with standard twin air bags and side impact beams in the doors but then the car is so high that most of the protection would come from the floor pan which is braced with a full length solid steel chassis, thus offering a rugged strength.  

 

This car also achieves a miserable top speed of 96 mph with a ghastly 0-60 in 16.7 seconds. This has to be one of the most influential factors as speed generally is the cause of most accidents. The fitment of remote key systems with transponder immobilisers help prevent any unwanted use by third parties. Braking is very powerful and needs to be considering the kinetic energy this thing has when motoring along (it is, of course, ABS and servo assisted). With such large wheels and low speeds it would be very difficult to lose control of any deceleration in this car.

 

Safety/Security Features
Alarm
Alarm
Antilock Braking System
Antilock Braking System
Child Locks
Child Locks
Engine Immobiliser
Engine Immobiliser
Front Side Air Bags
Front Side Air Bags
Front Twin Airbags
Front Twin Airbags
High level brake Light
High level brake Light
Locking Fuel Cap
Locking Fuel Cap
Pre Tensioned front Seat Belts
Pre Tensioned front Seat Belts
Rear Seat Belts Fitted
Rear Seat Belts Fitted
Remote Central Locking
Remote Central Locking
Side Impact Protection
Side Impact Protection
Visible Identification Number
Visible Identification Number

As an affordable family car or caravan towing unit the Nissan is acceptable. It should not, however, be considered for a comfy commuter or a day-to-day runabout. The drive is easy but it is very difficult to park, driving in and out of the gears in traffic is tiresome and unrewarding. Everybody wants to overtake you as nobody can see past you and they all do overtake because unless they are driving a battery powered vehicle they are going to beat you at the traffic lights (and to the next traffic lights and beyond any lights at all).

Rear seats down.

Rear seats up.

This car had the extra seats in the rear and I considered these as much use as the side steps. If anybody other than a circus contortionist tried sitting in them they would be so uncomfortable that they would probably walk or take a bus. The rear seats, in essence, are flat like a bench with no legs for elevation and no room to extend your own legs forward. So they are just for people with legs less than 30cms long i.e. young children. But they would have to be for ones you did not like or own as there is no head restraint system or any other safety feature than seat belts which I think should be illegal. The lack of safety is alarming.  The extra seats also take up most of the loading area in the boot when down and not much less when up. So a people carrier the Terrano is not. It has five useable seats and no more. Do not be convinced with the marketing of these cars as seven or eight seaters as you will only be disappointed.

 

Servicing costs for the Terrano are affordable and home servicing is easy. The electronics are reliable with exception of the air mass meters which I know fail commonly. These are very expensive for what they are and can be replaced with little effort once you have paid the 00's for the .00p item. This car also had a replacement gearbox fitted which was a little unusual and it was noticed that Nissan contributed nothing towards the cost of this which will have been very disappointing for the owner at the time. Nissan generally have failed to impress me and the UK consumer; it is clear to see why when they impose cars like this Terrano onto us and then fail to see the reasons why we do not rush out to buy them. With a little more thought and a little more panache I'm sure this car would be a lot more popular today. However, if you can tolerate its downsides you will love its upsides and it will be around for some time as it is quite impervious to oxidation and it's simplicity will give longevity.


 

Sample data Click here to access specifications for over 30,000 UK cars. 

Car information and car pictures.

Many more used car road tests. 

 

For all Nissan cars specifications and data from:
www.ukcar.com click here.

UK Car Road Test Nissan Terrano Sport 2002

UK Car Road Test Keywords: 4*4 DieselTerrano Sport