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Many people associate Daihatsu with 'kei' cars (small vehicles under 63hp and 660cc that exist to escape extravagant parking charges and tax in Japan). Daihatsu however, broke the mould with this small, four wheel driven urbanite - the Terios. In today's Urban Jungle, where exactly does it fit in?

10 Jan 2008

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Once in a blue moon, the enthusiast stumbles upon a set of wheels that one might classify as heart warming; vehicles that aren't exactly very conventional, but emerge to be classics over time. Take for instance, the Suzuki LJ80, Mitsubishi Pajero Mini and the military based Land Rover series III. At the risk of being a little hasty, we might classify Daihatsu's small crossover SUV, the Terios, as one of those likely candidates.

Exterior and Mechanics

Take a close look at this car - you'll realize several things that the uninspired won't.

The spare wheel in the rear of the Terios is covered with canvas. "So what?" you might say. Anything taller than the average Singaporean with four wheels and locking differentials happens to be delivered with the same device. It doesn't exactly look the part of rough, but it is definitely lighter and easier to remove during one of those "flat" situations.

Talking about locking diffs, the Terios surprisingly has one, or rather, the relevant buttons to make them function. This is very much not in line with most imported, "soft-roaders" equipped only with part time all wheel drivetrains (ring ring?) that at most, work by transferring some power away from the wheel that is loosing traction the most, and to those with the most grip.

Being a full time 4WD, all wheels receive equal amounts of power on the Terios. Hitting the button that locks the diffs means getting out of that swamp, mud pit without the need for serious help. What happens is that both wheels on the same axle turn at the same speed (hence the word lock) and aid with traction.


Being a non-hardcore, small crossover device means doing away with the stuffy interior of an old school military vehicle or off-road utility vehicle. The car's inviting insides are "car" enough to live with and will not cause the head of a tall driver to poke through the roof. Although leather seats are available, the typical weekender who enjoys stuffing his water-skis and dog into the boot will appreciate the foolhardiness of the standard fabric.

Large, circular instruments make for excellent reading, and help the driver keep his eyes on the road. The air-conditioning is a blast, literally, and the controls are easy to reach for. Gladly, the same goes for the 5 speed stick that is also available on the Terios. However, being the lazy urbanized Singaporean, this reporter chose the 4-speed self-shifter instead.
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Car Information

This model is no longer being sold by local distributors


: -

Engine Type


4-cylinders in-line 16-valves DOHC DVVT

Engine Cap





78kW (105 bhp) / 6000 rpm



140 Nm / 4400 rpm



4-speed (A)

Acceleration (0-100 km/h)


13.6sec (tested)

Top Speed



Fuel consumption


11.8 km/L

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daihatsu  daihatsu terios  japanese car  suv  4wd