Small car specialist Daihatsu has added some 1.5-litre fuel-injected verve to its Sirion hatch range.
To celebrate ten years of Daihatsu being back in South Africa, the Sirion has been given extra grunt and some subtle styling tweaks.
Previously powered only by a 64kW 1.3-litre engine, the Sirion has now been beefed up to match the Terios and Materia stable mates with 1.5-litre power.
The inline-four is a long-stroke motor displacing 1.5 litres and features a 16-valve double-overhead camshaft cylinder head with Daihatsu DVVT valve timing.
Driving through either a four-speed automatic or five-speed manual gearbox it produces 76 kW at 6 000 r/min and either 132 or 138 Nm at 4 400 r/min, depending on the gearbox - the auto configuration necessitating those six extra Newtons.
Besides the new engine the Sirion has seen new suspension geometry and slight styling upgrades which include new front fog lights, and integrated bumper (now colour coded throughout), rear spoiler and new combination rear lights.
The quintessential Sirion characteristics encapsulating value for money and driveability have remained unchanged however.
Sirion is still comprehensively equipped with ABS and EBD, air-conditioning, CD/MP3 compatible sound and air-bags all in a well packaged vehicles weighting under a ton, which ensures inherent dynamic potential.
Despite the styling updates the cute styling has not been diluted either.
Short front and rear overhangs, combined with boxy, city-car lines ensures the design language still endures, especially when compared to the some of overly curvaceous small-car competitors which look like oversized jelly-beans.
On the road
So how what does 76kW and 965kg translate to on the road? Well, the standard 1.3-litre, 64kW Sirion has always been a very sprightly car, and with an extra 12kW the new Sirion is an even more dynamic number.
It dispatches the 0-100km/h sprint in 10.5 seconds and tops out at 185km/h whilst retaining it's fabled frugality, returning consumption figures of around 6.2-litres per 100km. In-gear acceleration is strong, and even at Reef altitudes with the air-conditioning working overtime, the Sirion responded with alacrity when the cogs were shifted down and the accelerator stepped on.
The revised suspension geometry yields a slightly harsh ride over less than perfect road surfaces, yet high-speed tracking is true, and the general handling is entertainingly neat and nimble, with a diminutive 8.6-metre turning circle making parking a breeze.
Only the extraordinarily notchy gearshift of the five speed manual detracts from the dynamic driving experience, and the front seats are desperately uncomfortable, especially for taller drivers, being both too hard and following an unnatural curvature for spine support.
Despite these two foibles, the Sirion is still a charming overall small-car experience. The design details are practical, like the myriad of interior stowage spaces.
The instrument binnacle moves up and down with the steering adjustment, ensuring perfect instrument visibility no matter how you adjust it, and the auxiliary MP3/iPod port is a welcome entertainment boon.
Perhaps the greatest feature of the new Sirion is the pricing. The 1.5 manual is set at R119 995, and the automatic sells for R128 995, which is very competitive.
1.5 Sport manual: R119 995
1.5 Sport auto: R128 995