Nissan Terrano AMT Review : Handy Charm

Nissan Terrano AMT (36)

Like the Duster it is based on, the Nissan Terrano comes in various flavors. The latest is the one with a new 6-speed AMT, analogous in every way, except from the styling, to the new Renault Duster Easy-R. We lived with it for a couple of days and here are our observations.

Nissan Terrano AMT Design

Externally, there’s nothing to visually differentiate the Terrano with the AMT from the Terrano with the stick. Not even a badge. But first, let’s get reacquainted with the Terrano’s appearance.

I’ve always found it to be smarter looking than the Duster it is based on. Maybe it was supposed to be like that. While the Duster’s designers added a couple of ounces of funk to its largely utilitarian mix of design elements, the Terrano was designed to have a more suave and sophisticated demeanor.

Let’s put it this way. If the Duster was meant to get its haunches dirty while negotiating a muddy forest trail, the Terrano was born to be the city slicker; neon glinting off its pristine silver paintwork and those lovely, diamond cut alloy wheels.

The Terrano impresses with its big, square, chrome festooned grille and rectangular headlamps. Its sides look particularly handsome with their large, muscular wheel arch flares that are an ode to the Duster’s bodywork.

The rear end is where the Terrano’s design aces the Duster’s, with the former’s big, authoritative tail lamps dulling the lackluster, small units on the Renault. Overall, the Terrano still looks fresh and attractive in spite of being around for a while now.

Nissan Terrano AMT Interiors

It’s the same story inside as well. As compared to the Duster, the Terrano’s cabin tries to hide the former’s utilitarian demeanor with newly designed central AC vents, some piano black accents and some beige.

Does it succeed? Well, somewhat, but not completely. The interiors still feel a bit underwhelming for the price, especially some of the materials used. Ergonomics for the driver are acceptable, and everything apart from the power window switches is within easy reach.

The Duster rooted cabin has begun to show its age. The knobs and switches are rudimentary, while the old-school 2-DIN audio system with its orange lit background isn’t quite in line with the contemporary gear on offer. The vibe inside isn’t very modern, polished or funky.

The seats are nice though, nicely upholstered in off-white leather with an armrest for the driver’s throne that comes in handy especially in this AMT variant. The seats are quite comfortable over long distances, be it the ones at the front, or the bench at the back.

Nissan Terrano AMT Features

As far as features go, the compact SUV gets the aforementioned leather seats with arm-rest for the driver, Bluetooth, USB, AUX-in for the  audio system, anti-pinch windows, and electric wing mirrors. The lack of a touch screen equipped infotainment system and the lack of steering mounted controls are glaring omissions in this segment though.

Nissan Terrano AMT Performance

But let’s come to the driving bit – with the AMT of course – because we’re already well accustomed to the way the Terrano drives.

The mechanicals, of course, remain the same as the Terrano with the MT. Nissan offers the AMT on the top of the line diesel variant, which is the ‘XV’. It is powered by a 1.5-litre, turbo-diesel engine which produces 108.5bhp and 245Nm torque. The Terrano AMT has a claimed efficiency of 19.61 Km/l.

We already know that the engine is a gem, with its punchy tug making the compact SUV a hoot to drive in MT guise. Has the new AMT dulled the engine response? Well yes and no. It depends on how you drive it, and what mode you’re in.

Just let it be, mash the throttle and the AMT acts like it was meant to be – slow, lazy shifts that can annoy the enthusiast in you, while blunting straight line performance noticeably. Drive like a good boy and the AMT responds well in the lower rev range, shifting relatively smooth as you rest your elbow on that handy arm-rest.

However, there’s a manual mode that saves the day. Tap the lever to up shift whilst taking you foot of the gas as you do so, wait a smidgen as the gear falls into place, and accelerate again. You needn’t take your foot off the gas while tapping the lever to down-shift, and hear the engine approvingly growl by rev matching.

This technique works well if you want to squeeze some fun out of basic AMT equipped cars, and it did wonders while piloting the Terrano AMT. It needs some time getting used to, but this technique somewhat apes the operation of a MT, expect some robotic arm shifts as you merely tap at the gear lever.

Overall, the Terrano AMT is great to drive. In automatic mode, it does dull out the performance, but makes light work of negotiating traffic. The AMT even has a crawling function. Once engaged into ‘Drive’ mode, the car starts inching forward without any prodding from the throttle. This works really well when you have to spend a lot of time in bumper-to-bumper traffic.

In manual mode, it’s actually fun to drive if you take your foot off the gas while up shifting. You can even feel the slight turbo lag and the strong push thereafter like you do in the MT, because unlike a conventional automatic, the AMT doesn’t mask lag. There’s an Eco mode as well, but that up-shifts early and dims the firepower from the turbo-diesel, so you really wouldn’t want to use it.

Nissan Terrano AMT Ride & Handling

The Terrano AMT’s plush ride quality is definitely the best-in-class, only matched by the Duster it shares its flesh, bones and organs with. And so are its dynamics. The rally bred platform has very high limits when pushed hard. Of course there’s under steer and a bit of body roll, but the inherently well-balanced chassis cannot be unsettled easily. That said, ESP comes to the rescue when things go really out of hand.

Nissan Terrano AMT Safety

For safety, the Nissan Terrano AMT gets ESP (Electronic Stability Programme), ABS and dual airbags and Hill Assist. Even on the slightest of inclines, the hill assist function works beautifully, making life easier for drivers who are not very confident while crawling up an incline from a complete stop.

Nissan Terrano AMT Verdict

There’s no denying the handsome looks, the strong engine, the affable dynamics and the easy-to-live-with AMT. However, the unexciting interiors and the lack of certain key features are a bit of a letdown. With its smart looks and diesel-automatic offering, the Terrano still has a lot going for it. Unfortunately, it still lives in the shadow of its family nemesis, the Renault Duster. It’s somewhat caught in its undertow.

Retailing for INR 13.75 lakh (ex-showroom, Delhi), and competing with the more popular Renault Duster Easy-R and the segment leader Hyundai Creta, the Terrano AMT is a good overall buy, especially for those who love the iconic Nissan-SUV looks of the car.

Key Specs

Nissan Terrano AMT Image Gallery (Click to start slideshow)


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