AHEAD of its time, yet strangely old-fashioned, the Terios was an urban crossover when such terms didn’t even exist.
Bad stuff first: Loud colours and gaudy cabin trim that would make Liberace vomit limited the Daihatsu’s demographic appeal somewhat when new, while the tiny 1.3-litre petrol engine and quite crude suspension meant it was no fun to fling around town.
But Japanese reliability, Toyota-tough underpinnings, surprisingly capable off-road ability and a high riding position are exactly why the skinny little Terios is still making hay in markets such as India (sold as the Premier Rio) and China (badged Zotye T200, above), where its affordability and congestion-dodging dimensions come to the fore.
Unfortunately, Toyota’s decision to wind down Daihatsu in Australia at the end of 2004 meant the good-looking secondgen successor would never make it to our shores. Not that there’s a market for Frodo-sized 4x4s anyway – it’s all about compact SUVs nowadays.
The similarly sized Mitsubishi Pajero iO also failed to find an audience here. Note that it also remains on sale in China, as the Changfeng Liebao Feiteng CFA 6400. Catchy, no?
The Golden Girl of the compact-SUV set
Better looking than the grotesque Daihatsu Pyzar of the same era
Confetti-inspired seat trim of early cars is horrendous