The tidy Hyundai Terracan 4WD wagon has seen duty on and off our roads for around three and a half years, following its introduction onto the Australian market in September 2001.
Equipped with a 3.5-litre quad cam V6 petrol engine, the seven-seater made a name for itself as a reliable and useful off-roader. The ride was good, handling more than acceptable, and appearance and finish were spot-on.
In January this year, Hyundai released its Terracan diesel derivative, which has actually been available for some time but wasn’t released here until the Australian government standardised lower sulphur levels in diesel fuel.
The new model, featuring a front-end facelift, is easily recognisable due to the large bonnet air scoop to feed fresh air to the intercooler.
The release also coincides with Hyundai’s introduction of a high-performance Trek and Tow kit for serious off-road towing. This kit is now available for all Terracan models, old and new. Locally manufactured with top grade components, it was commissioned by Hyundai to maximize Terracan’s towing ability to cater for a full 2.5-tonne capacity braked trailer load. It boosts the tow ball mass from 200kg to 250kg.
Hyundai is aggressively marketing new products, and its new diesel Terracan certainly has what it takes in the off-road credibility stakes. The new range was officially released at Victoria’s Mt Hotham in mid-January this year. The off-road course - designed to show off the vehicle’s potential - was a mix of loose gravel, rocks, rivers and white-knuckle nose-to-sky stuff that tested drivers as much as drive trains.
Tracks down into river valleys (there were 23 river crossings) looked awfully steep going down, and a darned sight worse trying to come out. Scratching skywards, the drains on the steep tracks had to be straddled at an angle while the car eased forward in low range. Any driver who chose an incorrect angle of approach had to reverse back for another go, that time with the correct angle of approach sorted out.
The highlight of the day was an almighty low-range ‘keep the revs up’ scrabble to Mt Bluerag. This interesting crag has a small, half a hectare area up the top where you can look across at the snow on adjacent peaks. After coffee and scones were served up there on the test day, it was down, down, down onto the fire trails for a return to Mt Hotham base. Hyundai proved its point: the Terracan is a serious off-roader with genuine credibility.
The Terracan’s twin-cam, 2.9-litre, four-cylinder, turbo-charged, diesel engine has a very modern design and features high pressure constant rail direct fuel injection, an alloy head, 16 valves plus an intercooler for even greater efficiency. The car starts with turn-key precision without glow plug delay, and the engine is totally smokeless due to the fact there is simply no un-burnt fuel at any stage. And the engine is a strong performer, remarkably so.
Top torque for the engine is 345Nm at 1750rpm and power peaks at 129kW at 3800rpm. By way of comparison between power plants, the new diesel engine drives similarly to the 3.5-litre quad-cam petrol engine. It also accelerates in the same manner, although the oil burner delivers stronger low rev pulling power and much greater economy than its petrol counterpart.
On the open road, the diesel Terracan proved to be a treat to drive. The engine was very willing, and cruising effortlessly on the bitumen at 110km/h and just over 2,000rpm was a pleasure. However, it was the gravel sections that really allowed me to assess the manner in which power found its way down to the wheels.
The recommended retail price for the base model diesel is around $40,000 (roughly $2000 more than the petrol version). This model features 2WD and on-the-fly 4WD selection via a switch on the dash panel, and the upmarket Terracan Highlander features leather trim, some interior chrome and constant 4WD. In both vehicles low range is activated via a selector on the centre console.
Services, according to Hyundai, will be around the same price structure as for the petrol engine version, although drivers can expect up to one-third better fuel consumption. That’s certainly a bonus, given that diesel is more expensive than petrol these days.
On that topic, Hyundai claims that the diesel Terracan’s 75-litre capacity fuel tank will allow over 800km of highway driving, which is pretty good. In pre-launch testing the figures were even better, with both the automatic and manual versions recording over 1000km to the single tank with air-conditioning in use.
Features for the new CRDi are much the same as the petrol model. Electric windows, air, engine immobiliser, CD and FM radio, keyless entry, cruise control, 60/40 split-fold rear seats, and last but not least, three 12-olt power outlets, including one in the rear for the fridge. Both diesel and petrol models come with Hyundai’s factory five-year or 130,000km transferable new car warranty.
1) The Hyundai CRDi Terracan sits proudly atop Mount Bluerag in Victoria’s high country.
2) There were plenty of river crossings in Hyundai’s torture track. This is one of the easy ones.Reads: 1945