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2016 Nissan Terrano AMT review, test drive

12th Nov 2016 4:47 pm

AMT gearbox adds convenience to Nissan Terrano but there's still room for improvement elsewhere.

  • Make : Nissan
  • Model : Terrano

What is it?

You know the Terrano. It’s Nissan’s version of partner Renault’s Duster. Except, while Renault has been routinely updating the Duster, Nissan hasn’t been quite as indulgent with the Terrano. In fact, the SUV has been chugging along unchanged since its launch back in 2013. The version you see here may not look very different from the Terrano already on our roads, but it surely is. And that’s thanks to the incorporation of an automated manual transmission or AMT. As expected, it’s the same tech you get on the automatic version of the Duster.

What is it like on the inside?

Save for the new gear lever that’s been drafted in from the Duster AMT, Nissan hasn’t changed the Terrano’s interior a big way way. It has however, got a new instrument cluster and minor tweaks to the door panels which now come with a dual-tone black-beige shade. Still, the Duster’s updated dash looks far superior than what you get in the Terrano. The whole feel is of sitting in an older car with bits like the mechanical-feeling air-con controls and old-school audio player further strengthening that impression. There’s no auto climate control, touchscreen or steering-mounted controls, though the XV Premium trim (the sole version the AMT gearbox is available in) does get dual airbags, ESP, Bluetooth, a driver’s side armrest and leather seats. The seats are flat yet comfortable enough, but as on the Duster, the driver’s seat height-adjust lever feels rudimentary. The large boot, however, remains one of the highlights of the Terrano.

 

What is it like to drive?

The AMT addresses one of the biggest weaknesses of the standard Terrano manual – the heavy clutch. With the AMT hardware looking after gear changes, the driving experience is now a whole lot nicer.

The six-speed AMT gearbox is offered only with the top-spec diesel engine – a 1.5-litre 110hp unit.  At mild throttle inputs during city driving, the shifts are quite quick and timely. You won’t find the gearshifts seamless, but they are smooth as far as AMTs go. Take off from starts is smooth too, with the creep function gradually moving off the SUV. 

The Terrano AMT’s ‘box allows you to shift manually via the gear lever, and you can rev the motor near the 5,000rpm mark before the software intervenes and upshifts. It however, does get confused when you push the engine hard for an overtaking manoeuvre. There is a slight delay before it downshifts, which means you can’t escape the traditional AMT behaviour – that noticeable pause between shifts.  Being essentially the Duster unit, the AMT gearbox here is certainly one of the better ones on offer today. Still, it simply cannot match the smoothness of the Hyundai Creta’s superior torque converter automatic transmission.

On other fronts, the Terrano AMT’s driving experience is similar to the manual version. That means ride quality is excellent, handling is safe and the SUV feels sure-footed at all times.

Should I buy one?

The Nissan Terrano AMT has its good points in the form of great ride quality, a refined engine and a reasonably good gearbox. Trouble is, the updated Duster offers all of the above in a distinctly newer package. What weakens the Terrano’s case is its pricing. At Rs 13.75 lakh (ex-showroom, Delhi), the Terrano comes across as overpriced compared to the Duster AMT that comes in at Rs 12.97 lakh. 
 
The Terrano needs a big update to its interiors and exteriors to keep things fresh. Company sources tell us that Nissan is readying a mid-cycle refresh for the SUV that will come to showrooms in a few months. Until then, it’s really hard to recommend the Terrano AMT over its French cousin.  

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