Daihatsu Sirion

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Daihatsu Sirion 1.3 SL Car Review | July 1, 2001

Driven July 2001

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It's a friendly little chappy, the Sirion. It's the sort of thing that you'd expect to sell well in Japan along with cars like the Nissan Figaro. Micro machines like the Mini have gone down a bundle in the Land of the Rising Sun - and they tend to have one thing in common - personification.

The Sirion quite clearly has a face. Unblinking headlamp eyes, a Daihatsu badge nose and a radiator mouth, with little fog light dimples and chrome surround smile lines - to prove how friendly and approachable it is. The rest of the body has fairly supermini-esque themes, but the friendly curves continue around the car.

What those cheeky little monkey looks disguise is the fastest, most environmentally friendly 1.3 -litre engine on the market today. Cashing in on the family ties (Daihatsu is partly owned by Toyota), the Sirion boasts a twin overhead cam four-cylinder all alloy 16-valve engine, based on the engine fitted to the award winning Toyota Yaris.

'Based' is the key though. Daihatsu has tweaked the unit, coaxing 101bhp out from beneath the bonnet. Sunk into the 1.3SL model, this translates into a top speed of 111mph, and a 0-62mph time of 9.6 seconds (faster than the 2.0-litre Golf GTi). In the sportier sounding Sirion F-Speed it's only good for 11.1 seconds, but nevertheless, nothing to scoff at.

Right okay, so that's the fastest 1.3-litre engine on the market. But the Sirion still has one more surprise up its sleeve. It also boasts class-leading economy figures - so for once you can have your Mr Kipling's and eat it (enjoy, it's rare in this life).

Consequently, as you whiz along overtaking Fiestas, Polos and Yarises at will, you can grin to yourself smug in the knowledge that you're getting a combined figure of 49.6mpg. It's pretty green too, the 1.3-litre Sirion produces only 134.1g/km and the 1.0-litre version does even better with an impressively low 128.8g/km.

It's not badly kitted out either. PAS, twin airbags in the front and side impact bars are standard on all models, and further up the range ABS, central locking and air-con are amongst the goodies available as standard.

Daihatsu has thoroughly revised the suspension found on the old model, improving the overall ride by making it smoother and less inclined to wobble. A bonus for passengers who suffer from sea sickness. Take the Sirion into a multi-storey car park and it's tempting to speed around the ramps in a quite yobbish manner - the light steering makes the Sirion incredibly easy to manoeuvre in tightish spaces. It can be a little noisy, but as it wasn't really designed to be a motorway mile muncher - c'est la vie.

If you're after a supermini to nip around in then you could do a fair bit worse than the Sirion. The cabin is a little bland perhaps but the friendly character on the outside more than makes up for it - provided that you like the exterior styling of course. Even if you aren't that taken with the face concept, those with a keen eye for a bargain are also well advised to take note. The class leading performance and economy figures of the 1.3-litre Sirion make it a serious contender on any no-nonsense list. Especially when taking into consideration the link between Toyota and Daihatsu.

C. Boorman

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