You’re a bit slow off the mark aren’t you? This thing’s been on sale for months.
Yes, well, we’ve put off driving it for as long as humanly possible. Memories of the old car you see; some of us are still receiving treatment. Horrid little box.
So the old Terios was a bit of a duffer, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t give this new one a fair go does it? I mean it actually looks quite good.
Yes, there’s a whiff of new Mini about the cheeky proportions and curved surfaces, the scraped-back headlamps and bluff nose are suitably modern and the bulging wheelarches add a bit of attitude. The cabin is much improved too and features 350Z-style hooded dials, flashes of silver trim and a proper integrated hi-fi instead of a cheap aftermarket system. And there’s acres of space both in the cabin and the boot. That’s because although it’s easy to presume that the Terios is supermini-sized, in reality it’s much more useful. So while it retains the compact exterior dimensions of a supermini meauring just over 4m from bumper to bumper, it has a longer wheelbase than an Impreza and is closer in size to C-sector cars like the Ford Focus and Vauxhall Astra.
I can feel myself liking this car, quick tell me something that will bring me to my senses.
Let’s start with the driving position which is positively inhumane. There’s no reach adjustment for the steering wheel so you end up hunched forward as if you’re driving one of those 50’s bucket-T hot rods with the steering wheel jutting vertically from the floor. At least it means there’s plenty of room in the back. And though Daihatsu has clearly made an effort with the cabin materials, they have to be viewed in the context of the price. The fact is that at over £14,000, this isn’t a cheap car, and rivals’ cabins are better.
Hmmm, I’m not so sure now. What’s it like to drive?
There’s just one engine available, a 103bhp 1.5 petrol and the performance it provides is leisurely at best – 62mph takes 12.6sec but even that doesn’t convey how modest its overtaking thrust is at motorway speeds. There aren’t many cars left that can’t crack 100mph but this is one of them. So you end up working the engine hard which just reveals how little soundproofing there is. At a more leisurely pace things are more relaxed but never truly quiet. There’s no doubt that a regular hatch handles better than the Terios but that shouldn’t be a surprise. The steering is unremarkable and the ride bouncy. A Focus is far more capable and more fun, although that’s presuming you don’t really need the Terios’s ground clearance and extra traction. If you do need to venture off road, it’s worth knowing that the Terios is prepared to get mucky. It’s transmission delivers power to all four wheels at all times and there’s a diff-lock for when the going gets really serious.
Frankly we find it difficult to understand why anyone would buy the Terios when there are so many better cars available for the money. This mid-range version costs £14,295, a sum which would buy a brand new mid-spec Astra or Focus or a top of the range supermini. Okay, so a Focus doesn’t have the Terios’s quirky styling but it’s a far more complete package. The Terios looks fun and does have the benefit of four-wheel drive but for most buyers front-wheel drive is more than sufficient. If you must have four-wheel drive you could sacrifice a little space for the superior Fiat Sedici or if you just want the off-roader looks a front-drive Hyundai Tuscon will do a far better job. We want to like this car – the idea of a small off-roader is sound enough in these SUV-obsessed times – but the feeling that it would have been so much better with someone like Ford doing the engineering and cabin is hard to escape. So, just to recap: it’s slow, uncomfortable to drive, unrefined and not particularly cheap to buy or run. Avoid.