Daihatsu is hoping to stir a few heartstrings with the return of the memorable Charade name to South Africa. The cheeky-looking car is bound to win back fans in the entry-level market.

Daihatsu is hoping to stir a few heartstrings with the return of the memorable Charade name to South Africa. The newly-launched cheeky-looking car is bound to win back fans in the entry-level market.

Though very different in looks and technology to the original car, the new Charade will aim to capture the same loyal fans that it enticed in the early eighties with a quirky engine and reputation for never say die reliability.

With few new vehicles costing less than R100 000 these days, the battle to capture a stake in that segment has heated up. And all the old players are still there. One only has to think of Toyota's Conquest, which lives on in the form of the Tazz, the CitiGolf and Fiat Uno.

Imperial Daihatsu South Africa has been making steady inroads into the entry level market over the past few years. With the likes of the Move, Cuore, Terios, and Sirion, the company has gained the trust of South Africans who expect value for their hard earned money as well as safety and reliability.

Charade will take the baton from the outgoing Cuore in the market and will hope to build on the success gained.

With sleeker lines and colour-coded bumpers, the Charade looks good and, although still small in actual proportion, has a deceptively large stance. It has a sporty look with air ducts visible at either end of its low slung bumper.

The design of the engine bay on most Daihatsus and positioning of the radiator dictate that the front number plate sits slightly off centre, but it adds nicely to the look and uniqueness of the vehicles.

Side on, the five-door body again appears lower than figures on paper read thanks again to the clever bumper design. A bulge over the rear wheel arch and low-slung side panels fool that the vehicle’s centre of gravity is a lot sportier than it is.

The looks of the new Charade are let down slightly by the very square rear end although the placement of the rear light cluster running up the sides of the boot lid save the situation somewhat.

Entry and exit into the car is made easy by the 90 degree opening front and rear doors and, once seated, the vehicle once again flatters to deceive with its big cabin and plenty of leg room both up front and pleasantly, for a small car that it is, in the rear as well. The extra rear leg room does not compromise boot space too much and there is ample room for shopping, brief cases, and maybe even a golf bag.

The driving position is high but comfortable and the two-spoke steering wheel fits nicely to hand. Instrumentation is simple but effective and the large, central speedometer is easily visible from the driver’s seating position.

The Charade is powered by a 989cc, three-cylinder engine with 12 valve DOHC. A maximum output of 40.5 kW is achieved at 5 200 r/min while torque figures of 88 N.m at 4000 r/min are on hand. Matched together with a body that weighs only 740 kg, it proves a useful combination.

The engine feels strong and lively. When driving in start-stop traffic the optional five-speed manual transmission felt very capable and comfortable. On the open road, legal speed limits are effortlessly achieved and easily maintained.

The tiny 155/65R13 Bridgestones fitted standard to the steel wheels work hard on the higher speed twisty roads, but cannot prevent a tendency for oversteer. Though bearing in mind the target market for Charade, it can be forgiven for not being an obvious choice for the race track.

The brakes are good and an increased brake booster for the front disc brakes provides more than enough stopping power for a vehicle this size.

Where the new arrival will score points on its rivals and indeed build on the legacy of its outgoing is the availability of a four-speed automatic transmission which should prove very popular. While capable of negotiating steep mountain passes, town driving is where the automatic gearbox comes into its own.

Two model options will be available, both with manual and auto choices. The base CX Charade offers entry-level spec though safety is not compromised through the different models. Both options include new improved cabin rigidity as well as side impact protection in all four doors.

The CXL option is standard with air-conditioning, central locking, electric windows and side mirrors as well as a rear window wiper. Rear defoggers are fitted to both models.

As with its predecessor, the small dimensions of the new Daihatsu Charade combined with the willing though small capacity engine, impressively low fuel consumption figures are returned. With a claimed thirst of only five litres per 100 km Daihatsu puts a strong case forward for those looking for an entry-level car that might return some value for money.

The Charade CX will retail for R72 995 in manual form and R 79 995 with an automatic transmission. The kitted out manual CXL model retails at R84 995, while the automatic will set you back R89 995. Metallic paintwork will add to the bill.

Service intervals are every 15 000 km while a standard three-year/100 000km warranty is provided.

Original article from Car