Tested: 2012 Daihatsu Terios Diva

Dallying with a Diva

I love surprises… especially in unexpected packaging and totally out of the blue. Consequently, I was delighted to get the opportunity to review a Terios Diva – the latest Daihatsu SUV catering specifically to ladies.

I am already a firm fan of the Terios having admired them for a couple of years, however I will admit to some scepticism about driving around in a car decorated with frilly decals and proclaiming my Diva status to the world. I may love to drive wearing heels, I might be a girly girl but I’m afraid I was a tad underwhelmed by the orange decals which decorated this otherwise spunky vehicle.

The diva theme is carried through to the interior with orange stitched leather seats (which I incidentally loved – they’re so bright and funky) and Diva embroidered in bold across the top of the front seats (which left me somewhat less enamoured). The diva theme was even mirrored in the plush fitted mats in the footwells – outlined in bright orange embroidery with Diva splashed across it. The jury’s out on that bit of décor.

I guess it may appeal to some and as a woman, I cannot fault the car on the rest of its appearance and handling. From the cheeky short wheel base with the spare tyre neatly ensconced on the back of the car to the fantastic driving experience which kept a happy grin firmly plastered on my face.

The Diva comes with some very neat selling points – from beautifully chromed, easy to read dials to a complete media centre with touch screen for viewing the GPS, reversing camera, and your music collection accessible through iPod connection, USB port, MP3/CD or built-in hard-drive.

Then there’s a radio as well as a DVD player to keep the kids entertained (this functionality is limited to when the car is stationary). You can even connect your cellphone via Bluetooth. A novel concept is an organiser with multiple pouches strapped to the rear of the front passenger seat guaranteed to handle most things women like to store in their car.

The simple to manage ventilation controls enhance the fun yet elegant experience and were spot on in terms of comfort levels. Electric windows, side mirror controls, air-conditioning, alloy wheels, multiple cup-holders and a very roomy boot come as standard features.

Comfort wise, I was very impressed with the leather seats as well as ample leg- and head-room both front and back – as a tall person I appreciate these features. The Diva’s suspension was cushy and springy giving a smooth ride which almost erred on the side of too removed from what is happening on the road. Even fully loaded, all passengers travelled in great comfort.

The overall impression of the Diva is deceptive – the small car feels substantially roomier inside. The only criticism I have is that the middle seat belt attempts to decapitate any passenger smaller than 1.5m by virtue of the angle at which it hangs from the roof. Mums with three kids could have the odd battle on their hands from the poor victim in the middle.

As a driving experience, I found the Diva an absolute pleasure. The small 1.5L petrol engine has just enough spunk (77kW) and pluck (140Nm) to make a regular commute in traffic, a school run and a shopping trip an equally pleasurable experience. The Diva handles like a much smaller vehicle – super light steering response, a soft and easy clutch and magnificently smooth gears which could almost be manipulated with the tip of a well-manicured fingernail.

I was especially impressed with the performance of the Diva in heavy traffic. It purred along merrily at below 1000 revs with no hint of a shudder or a stall. As a regular commuter, I would buy it just for that! I found the Diva’s performance to be outstanding as an everyday run-around, but it struggled a bit when fully laden or when pushed on the freeway. Engine noise increased substantially when pushing beyond 120km/h, and an increase in fuel consumption was noted too (claimed 8.1L/100km, 50L fuel tank).

That’s not to say that the Diva isn’t perfectly capable of handling higher speeds, but it might benefit from a 6th gear. Funnily enough, one thing that bothered me and which seldom gets a mention is the ignition – a small LED light at the ignition would go a long way to inserting the key with ease and multiple scratches along the base of the steering column certainly bore testimony to a succession of frustrated drivers trying to get the car started. Once the key is in and turned though, the rest of your driving experience is first class fun.

The Daihatsu Terios Diva costs N$244 995 which includes a three-year or 100 000km warranty.


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