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Nissan PH reveals how important Terra SUV is

The Philippines is the first to launch 7-seater version

The much-awaited, much-teased Terra is here. PHOTO BY VERNON B. SARNE

Let us tell you a little story. Back in November, VISOR reported that Nissan Philippines was soon launching a then-rumored Navara-based SUV that would do battle with the likes of the Toyota Fortuner and the Mitsubishi Montero Sport. It was such a secret at the time that we couldn’t source even just a single spy photo anywhere on the Internet.

We had gotten the word from two dealer executives (not from the same company) who had innocently passed on the details to us straight from a Yokohama trip hosted by the Japanese automaker. When our article came out, a wave of concern rippled across the Nissan network in the region—so much so that the local distributor had to communicate (via e-mail) to its dealers its displeasure. For one, there was a stern warning that Filipino dealers could be banned from future product previews if they couldn’t stop themselves from leaking what was apparently a very confidential piece of information.

Upon learning of the repercussions of our “scoop,” we wondered what the big deal was. After all, the new Terra SUV wasn’t going to replace a similar model in the Nissan vehicle lineup. We got the answer yesterday, when Nissan finally (and very much officially) unveiled the Terra before a sizable audience made up of Filipino and ASEAN journalists at an open, dusty lot in Clark, Pampanga.

The designers did enough to dissociate the Terra's face from that of the Navara. PHOTO BY VERNON B. SARNE

It turns out the Terra is a very important model for Nissan, and the company’s Philippine subsidiary is expected to play a crucial role in rolling the SUV out in all of Southeast Asia. In fact, our market is the first country to get the Terra—in seven-seater form, no less—after the five-seater version’s introduction in China in April. Which explains the presence of foreign journalists at the launch event. How did Nissan Philippines score this major gig? Just by growing its sales numbers in a phenomenal way: Last year, the Nissan importer and seller moved a total of 24,995 units, an eye-popping 48% growth from 2016. That kind of market performance usually attracts the attention of the headquarters.

So, going back to our November article, it’s now clear to us that Nissan Philippines was upset because the information leak could give the regional bosses the idea that it wasn’t up to the task of handling the Terra’s grand Southeast Asian reveal—that it couldn’t even protect a simple confidential matter.

Fair enough.

Nissan wants to take the Terra SUV to the top. PHOTOS BY VERNON B. SARNE

To depict the significance of the Terra to its manufacturer’s regional product strategy, Nissan prepared an entertaining off-road show featuring several Terra vehicles frolicking on the sand and even going up and down a couple of steep mounds. The message, to us at least, was obvious: The Terra is here and it’s about to disrupt the order of things in the highly competitive midsize SUV segment.

A 2.5-liter turbodiesel does duty under the hood. PHOTO BY VERNON B. SARNE

The Philippine-market Terra is equipped with a 2.5-liter four-cylinder CRDI (YD25) turbodiesel rated at 187hp and 450Nm. The above-mentioned 4×4 demo was child’s play to the top-of-the-line Premium 4×4 variant thanks to its 4WD system boasting a locking differential, hill descent control and hill-start assist. The range-topping Terra is the only one with four-wheel drive; the other four variants are rear-wheel-driven.

Of the five variants, only the top one has 4WD and only the base has a manual stick. PHOTOS BY VERNON B. SARNE

Let’s get this out of the way: The Terra that will be sold in the Philippines and the rest of Southeast Asia is made in Thailand, not China. Which makes the Philippine regional launch all the more impressive, because we’re actually getting the SUV ahead of the Thai market. Thailand and Indonesia will next receive the new Nissan model—within the current fiscal year—to be followed by Brunei, Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar and Vietnam.

Cabin is visibly spacious. Stuff it all you want. PHOTOS BY VERNON B. SARNE

The Terra measures 4,885mm long, 1,865mm wide and 1,835mm tall, with a wheelbase of 2,850mm and a ground clearance of 225mm. For perspective, the best-selling Fortuner measures 4,795mm long, 1,855mm wide and 1,835mm tall, with a wheelbase of 2,745mm. The Terra’s slight advantage in both length and width is efficiently converted into a roomy cabin and a spacious cargo compartment.

Depending on the variant, the Terra offers a wide variety of features: Nissan Intelligent Mobility (with intelligent around-view monitor, intelligent rearview mirror, blind spot warning and lane departure warning), LED headlamps, power-adjustable seats, leather seats, seven-inch touchscreen display, rear monitor with “flip-down entertainment system,” six speakers, dual-zone climate control, cruise control, six airbags, antilock brakes with electronic brake-force distribution, tire pressure monitor, vehicle dynamic control, parking sensors, rear camera, antitheft system and (perhaps most important) 14 cupholders.

The upper three variants are shod with 18-inch alloy wheels, while the lower two get 17-inchers.

The base variant has a six-speed manual shifter. PHOTO BY VERNON B. SARNE

Also, all the Terra variants come with a standard seven-speed automatic transmission, except for the base variant with a six-speed manual shifter.

Here are the five specific variants with their prices:

According to Nissan Philippines, the preorder period commences on June 1, although we’re sure the dealers won’t turn you away if you wish to reserve a unit as early as today. The official start of sales is in August, which we take to mean the actual availability of the vehicles.

Will this be your next car key? See it for yourself. PHOTO BY VERNON B. SARNE

The secret is out. Nissan wants a slice of the midsize-SUV pie. How big the serving portion will be now depends on you.

Vernon B. Sarne

Vernon is the founder and editor-in-chief of VISOR. He has been an automotive journalist since July 1995. He became one by serendipity, walking into the office of a small publishing company and applying for a position he had no idea was for a local car magazine. God has watched over him throughout his humble journey. He writes the ‘Spoiler’ column.