A newbie’s take: on the trail with The All-New Nissan Terra

There is a first time for everything, is what everyone says. For this urban dweller, the last thing she expects to ever do is to go off-roading — much less in a newly-minted, seven-seater SUV. Such was what happened last week at the regional launch of the all-new Nissan Terra, the brand’s game-changer that seeks to challenge strong category players, or the likes of the Toyota Fortuner and Mitsubishi Montero. Post-launch festivities, the members of the media were treated to an exclusive first drive to experience the Terra in two ways: through the uneven, rocky terrain of “Delta 5”; and then through an obstacle-ridden on-road course.

As a newbie, I was nervous and unsure, as I had heard that driving through uneven dirt road entails a completely different set of skills that when driving on straightforward city streets. As we entered Delta 5, I got first dibs behind the wheel — up for the challenge, but silently praying that I would not embarrass myself by having the Terra tilt over, or worse, hopelessly getting stuck in the mud. The instructor was patient enough to guide me through the trail. He gave me pointers on when to stop and slow down, and how to maneuver correctly to maintain balance. Likewise, he encouraged me to push the Terra whenever the situation was safe enough to do so — through the water, dirt road and bush trails, and even right over rocks.

My takeaway was this — it clearly takes more than driving skill to successfully make it through an off-road track. With every turn and every bump, it feels like the car is about to lean over and topple. With the Terra, while the rocking motion was inevitable, you also get that controlled steering and suspension. It almost feels like there is a resisting force that pulls the car in the opposite direction from where gravity is taking it. As the driver, this reassured me of the stability that you get while going through the trail. As a passenger, though, I would recommend keeping your seatbelt on to avoid unwanted bruising.


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