Welcome to the rough and tumble world of the small off-roader. These compact machines not only have to excel in the dirt, but also jostle for position on urban streets. Surely that’s a challenge too far for any car maker?
Nobody seems to have told Daihatsu, because the Japanese firm has launched its second-generation Terios. Admittedly it is much larger than its predecessor, but it’s still no bigger than a modern supermini, yet comes equipped with full-time four-wheel drive, an electronically controlled differential lock and 190mm of ground clearance. So does that mean it can punch above its weight off-road, yet prove responsive enough to cope with the daily grind on tarmac?
The Terios isn’t the only newcomer anxious to prove the chunky looks aren’t only for show, though. Fiat has just launched the Sedici. Sharing underpinnings with the Suzuki SX4 (tested in Issue 909), this is the Italian firm’s second 4WD mini-mud plugger, following on from the charming Panda 4x4.
So which of our practical pair can offer the best mix of driving abilities? We hit the rough and the smooth to find out.Daihatsu Terios 1.5 SX
1.5 litre/103bhp - £14,295
Why? As with the Sirion city car, the Terios has been designed for European tastes, but there’s no diesel engine, only a petrol. Prices start at £12,995 for the base S, rising another £2,000 for the top-spec SE auto. We try the mid-range SX model.Fiat Sedici 1.6 Eleg.
1.6 litre/107bhp - £13,495
Why? The Sedici range is even smaller – only two versions are available, both powered by a 1.6-litre petrol engine. A 1.9-litre diesel goes on sale later this year, but for now you have a choice of either Dynamic or Eleganza models. Prices undercut the Terios, starting from £12,495.