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Reader test: Daihatsu Charade CX

2009-11-13 08:43

Dave Coetzee, Port Elizabeth

I bought this little 2003 model for my wife, over a year ago, via the Internet. I paid R34000 less the cost of a flight to JHB, from which I drove it back to PE.

Although maximum power from it’s 989cc engine is only 40.5kW, its weight of only 760kg provides nippy city commuting. Rushed pull-aways result in wheel-spin, a practice which my boys revealed, that my wife seems to enjoy indulging in!

The Charade has a very flexible third gear ratio, exhibiting good acceleration from 35 – 135km/h and reaches a top speed of just under 160km/h in fifth gear at the coast.

Its 0- 60km/h sprint time (where most of the inner-city action occurs) of 5.3 sec is quite impressive - better than some 1.4ll cars.

The DOHC, multivalve, "Dual Variable Valve Timing" triple sounds similar to a small V6!

I've discovered a rather strange phenomenon with the Charade though. This probably applies to any other similarly sized car.

The phenomenon in question is that many people with bigger cars don’t enjoy driving behind it and will make every attempt at overtaking you, despite the fact that you're maintaining or even exceeding the speed limit!

Economy ranges from 15km/l in town, to 19km/l on the open road.

It’s interesting to note that the extra 6km/l over a larger family car provides a useful, additional 300km for every 50l of fuel consumed!

From a ride and handling perspective traversing ridges produces some rattles from the fairly absorbent front suspension, while fast bends cause body-roll, otherwise it’s quite comfortable.

The non-assisted steering is light enough, even for my wife.


This little car is a lot more spacious than it’s looks would suggest.

I've managed to squeeze in a boxed 72cm TV and 4 sardines, er .. kids, via an angled backrest for a short trip.

Recently, when required to fetch my brother, his wife and 2 teenagers at the airport, together with their week's worth of luggage the Charade proved capacious enough.

Admittedly some of the luggage had to be placed on the occupants laps and the floor...

The rear seats are easily accessible as the doors open to an angle of nearly 90-degrees, while front and rear legroom and headroom is plentiful.

Being an older, base-model CX, safety/equipment levels are low. My Charade has no airbags or ABS brakes and does without an aircon or central locking too.

It does have have intermittent wipers and a heated rear window though.   

If you’re looking for an inexpensive, economical, spacious and nippy little city-car for your wife, then you can hardly go wrong with these older Daihatsu Charades.

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