20 November 1998




IF YOU are in the market for a 4wd vehicle, the choice is pretty simple. You can go for a pick-up (good load-lugging ability, cheap, not much fun on longer journeys) or a proper Discovery/Shogun/

Trooper-type off-roader (comfortable, relatively expensive, limited carrying capacity).

But there is a third option – "commercial" derivatives of 4wd vehicles with the rear seats taken out and the back windows filled in.

These generally have bigger engines than pick-ups, nicer suspensions and can carry reasonable amounts of stuff around. And in most farm situations they arent liable for VAT, a saving of £2-3000 in itself.

The choice is limited: Land Rover Discovery Commercial, LR Defender van, Isuzu Trooper Commercial, Daihatsu Fourtrak Fieldman. Until recently there was also the Ford Maverick van, but Ford has decided to stop marketing that.

But step forward a new entrant; Nissans Terrano van. Almost identical to the old Maverick (which was built by Nissan in Spain anyway), it looks a useful option for farmers wanting to carry smaller loads in some comfort.

Dont expect its carrying capacity to match that of a 1t pick-up. With the seats set for a standard shape and size adult, the load area dimensions are 1.35m long x 1.27m wide x 1m high (53in x 50in x 39in) and the payload is 785kg. But thats enough to get a good array of tools, spare parts, fragrant collies and sundry other farming flotsam in out of the rain.

Where youll gain over pick-up drivers is in the engine compartment. The Terranos 2.7 litre turbo-diesel churns out 125hp and gives the vehicle a spring in its step that is generally lacking in pick-ups. Driving it is also a rather more car-like experience, especially when unladen.

Top speed is 96mph and 0-60 comes up in 15.7secs, which isnt bad for this type of vehicle.

Off-road going shouldnt pose too many problems. Ground clearance is 210mm (8.3in) and theres a choice of 2wd high, 4wd high and 4wd low ratio. Shifts between the first two of these can be done on the move and auto hubs mean you can stay dry in the cab. A limited slip diff is standard.

The cab is also a bit more car-like in equipment terms, though not exactly lavish. Central locking is standard, as is an engine immobiliser. Since the Terrano van is derived from the passenger 4 x 4 of the same name, you can also opt for fripperies like air-conditioning and – perish the thought – alloy wheels.

The Terrano van went on sale in September and costs £14,350, excluding VAT.

Right hand drive versions of the Chevrolet Blazer finally go on sale in Britain in January. Vehicle looks huge, but actually sits somewhat lower than the likes of an Isuzu Trooper or Ford Explorer. Main features are 4.3 litre V6 petrol (no diesel yet), automatic 4wd engagement and ultra-plush cabin. Prices range from £22,925 to £24,925.

Terrano vans cute looks disguise useful load carrier with785kg payload and 1.35×1.27m loadbed. And no tonneau to keep taking on and off!

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