Unfamiliar Terrain

Shahzad Sheikh asks whether it's worth risking brand values for sales.

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By  Shahzad Sheikh Published  June 13, 2008

Shahzad Sheikh asks whether it's worth risking brand values for sales.

The GMC brand is 107-years old and is known for big, tough vehicles that are laminated with a much harder personality referred to as ‘professional grade'. Distil that lot down and what you get is a manufacturer that builds brawny trucks for men.

GMC has a history here in the Middle East too. The 1973-91 Suburban traversed huge distances across deserts transporting families and live stock from one Bedu camp to another. It became the ‘Jemce', and it was driven by men.

So when the launch of the latest product from this tough-guy marque starts with a demographic breakdown suggesting that the key target buyer will be school mums, it doesn't augur well.

The Terrain is a rebadged Chevrolet Captiva: a compact SUV stereotype - tall, family-friendly, small enough to park easily, not meant for off-roading, and best for short around-town trips. Which means that the Terrain is a competent, if forgettable drive.

It comes with two engines,a 223bhp 3.2 V6 and a 141bhp 2.4-litre four-cylinder which I drove so you wouldn't have too.

The Terrain enters a fiercely competitive segment that includes Toyota RAV4 and Suzuki Grand Vitara for around the same money. And the class-leader, the Honda CR-V, for only a little more.

The question is not whether the Terrain can compete, but if it should exist at all. Driving back from the launch in a GMC Sierra pickup, only affirmed that the Terrain was an aberration as far as the brand was concerned, created to appease GMC dealers missing out on Captiva sales.

GM must be more careful with its brands, the Acadia was pushing it, but this is plain wrong. Unlike the Denali XT Hybrid shown at the Chicago Auto Show early this year - compact yet cool enough to cruise in - that's what GMC should really build.

Need to know

GMC Terrain

Price: $23,600

Engine: 2.4-litre, four-cylinder, 141bhp @ 5000rpm, 162lb ft @ 4000rpm

Transmission: Five-speed semi-automatic transmission, four-wheel drive

Performance: 11.9sec 0-100kph, 185kph, 8.8L/100

On sale in ME: Now

Rating: 2/5

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