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The new Daihatsu Terios might not project the muscle image of some of the other vehicles that make up the sports utility market but what it lacks in grunt it certainly makes up for in other areas.
Heading for the coal-mining town of Dundee in KwaZulu-Natal last weekend for the media launch, I must confess, I was initially concerned at the lack of power on the open road, but after a couple of days behind the wheel, realised this was more due to my lack of driving skills than the vehicle itself.
You need to work the vehicle through the gears to get the maxi- mum out of it. For me the vehicle comes into its own in two completely different environments - about town and off-road.
For your normal daily run-about-town jaunts, the Terios is ideal.
Easy to handle, thanks to a sensitive power-steering and being easy to park due to its compact size, the vehicle is a comfortable drive.
The Terios offers plenty of space for four adults and an ample boot for bags and a cooler box for that weekend away. Also, nice features on the vehicle are extra-large side mirrors which help eliminate blind spots around the vehicle and an instrumentation panel that is simple and easy to use.
Unlike many vehicles today that tend to go overboard when it comes to techno-gadgets, the Terios has adopted a policy of keeping it simple. For me this definitely works.
But it is off-road where it really comes into its own. Engage the 4x4 control and the little Terios takes to off-road terrain like a cross between a mountain goat and a pit bull terrier.
With a ground clearance of 250mm, it simply chewed up and spat out whatever the mountains surrounding Dundee could offer.
Being a novice to the 4x4 scene, I was amazed - as were other journalists on the launch - at the ability of the vehicle to climb and descend landscapes that simply looked impassable.
The surrounding areas of Dundee were particularly beautiful to drive in. It was a great deal of fun as we really stretched the Terios and believe me, it came through with flying colours. Despite having only a 1500cc engine, the cheeky Terios proved to be a go-anywhere type of vehicle and the management of Daihatsu could be seen with wide smiles at the end of the weekend - and deservedly so.
They have come up with a vehicle that will have many of its competitors looking over their shoulders which can only benefit the consumer in the long run.
The price of the new Terios starts at R169995 and for that you get a super little vehicle which will give you a great deal of pleasure both on and off-road.
To view the video of the launch log on to www.sowetan.co.za