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Suzuki kicks off its new model assault with an all new Swift hatchback and standalone sedan called the Dzire.

FIRST DRIVE: New Daihatsu Sirion

2005-02-22 11:53

John Oxley

The latest Sirion has a completely new shape from the rounded look of its predecessor, with a more modern square look that at the same time gives a lot more interior room.

The bad news is that the 75 kW 1.3-litre engine of the old model has been replaced by a more sedate - but more torquey - 64 kW unit, resulting in a more sophisticated, albeit slower, driving experience.

As we said, styling is much more modern, giving the latest Sirion a tall stance, a snub nose and a tough, chunky look.

Strangely enough the new car is shorter than its predecessor, but has grown in width, wheelbase and especially height.

Bold wheelarches

It has a prominent "smile" to the grille, it has bold wheelarches, a chopped-off tail, and a dashboard which looks very much like a cross between those on the smart and the MINI.

Indeed, just like the MINI the Sirion has its speedo attached to the height-adjustable steering column, and it moves up and down when the latter is adjusted.

There's a separate rev counter in a pod alongside the speedo, again as with the MINI.

The dashboard is smooth and well-designed, with an aluminium-look plastic centre panel which includes a built-in front-loader CD player and radio.

The seats are comfortable and form-fitting, and the rear seats have a few degrees of recline to change comfort settings. There's a LOT of rear seat room for a car in this category.

The 60/40 split rear seat squab slides forward and the backrest tips forward to increase luggage capacity from 225 litres to 630 litres.

There are quite a few knickknacks areas, including cupholders in the front of the door panels, central and passenger-side trays in the lower dashboard, more cupholders behind the handbrake and a small glovebox split into two levels.

The 1.3-litre engine is the same as that found in the Daihatsu YRV and Terior 4x4, producing 64 kW at 6 000 r/min and 120 Nm of torque at 3 200 r/min.

On the road

The previous Sirion was a ball of fire, with an engine that revved right around to 8 500 r/min to give real punch-in-the-back acceleration, while handling was taut and crisp.

The new car is different. The power steering is light, there's a tight turning circle, bumps are smoothed effectively, and handling is adequate.

But it doesn't have the excitement of the outgoing model.

Expect 0-100 km/h acceleration of the order of 11.3 sec and a top speed of 170 km/h, with frugal fuel economy - 5.8 litres/100 km for the 5-speed manual, 6.4 litres/100 km for the 4-speed manual.

Naturally there's less oomph on the auto, and it loses the quick-shiuft steering column paddles of the old version.

But the shifts are still smooth and it kicks down quite easily, albeit with some "hunting" when you come to hilly terrain.

Two models are on offer - Standard and Sport, each in manual or auto.

Standard features

Standard features on both models include air conditioning, power windows and mirrors, power steering, built-in CD player/radio, dual front airbags, ABS brakes with electronic brake distribution (EBD), central locking, and a bee-sting aerial on the roof.

There's a 2 years/45 000 km service plan.

Daihatsu - one of Japan's oldest manufacturers, celebrating its centenary in two years time - is clearly looking for new market segments with the new model, and general manager Basil Dresse hopes to boost sales from the current 100 a month to between 250 and 300 a month.

Certainly the new car offers great looks, more space in its segment than its opposition, and great pricing coupled with lots of standard features.


  • Daihatsu Sirion Standard manual R99 995
  • Daihatsu Sirion Standard auto R109 995
  • Daihatsu Sirion Sport manual R109 995
  • Daihatsu Sirion Sport auto R119 995

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