Top Ten Test

Auto Trader Ten Point Test rating: 76%

The Daihatsu Sirion has been on sale in the UK since the beginning of 2005, offering low running costs and high levels of standard equipment at bargain basement prices.

But despite having frugal engines and a bold design, the Daihatsu Sirion lacked sportiness.

With the 1.5SX, Daihatsu has fitted the Sirion with a muscular bodykit and a 16v engine offering a little more oomph.

1. Looks 7/10

With the new 1.5 Daihatsu Sirion SX, the Japanese car maker has gone on the offensive. Imagine the Toyota Aygo city car, but raised and beefed up thanks to its sporty bodykit and alloy wheels. It’s a genuinely good-looking left field alternative to rivals such as the Fiat Panda. The front bumper features a pair of fog lights while a spoiler takes care of the rear’s dynamic looks. But the coolest part of the Sirion’s design is the flared wheel arches which house a set of 14-inch alloy wheels. Unfortunately, with the car’s height, the small wheels do look a bit out of place, but with a pair of 16-inch wheels, the Sirion would really look the part.

2. Looks inside 7/10

The Sirion’s interior isn’t as sporty as its exterior with the inside full of cheap plastics. But this is a cheap car and the amazing thing about the car’s inside is the wealth of space. The high roofline ensures the Sirion can comfortably seat someone of 6ft 3in tall. There’s a large space between the front two seats as well for the broader driver and passenger. The centre console houses a funky-looking, easy to understand CD player with the air-conditioning dials placed immediately beneath. It’s all very basic and just a shame so much of the plastic is grey.

3. Practicality 8/10

Somehow, Daihatsu has created a new niche with the Sirion’s level of practicality. On the face of it, the Sirion is city-car sized (it’s shorter than a Ford Ka) making it easy to park, while a turning circle of just 9.4 metres makes manoeuvring through tight streets really simple. But the real trump card for the Sirion is the space inside. It’s enormous. The inside can comfortably accommodate four tall adults thanks to its height and width. The boot’s 225 litre capacity is adequate, lower the rear seats and it grows to 630 litres. Very impressive.

4. Ride and Handling 7/10

The Sirion’s soft suspension soaks up the most severe bumps served up by Britain’s battered B-roads. But the moment you encounter a corner the Sirion’s serenity disintegrates. Thanks to the car’s small wheels and high profile there is a worrying amount of bodyroll on corners. At any more than a very slow speed we didn’t feel comfortable. We understand this is a car designed for the city and not to be really driven with speed, but at some stage drivers will need to take it on a winding road and this is the Sirion’s most disappointing characteristic.

5. Performance 7/10

The Daihatsu is available with three petrol engines; a 1-litre, 1.3-litre and recently added 1.5-litre lump producing 68bhp, 90bhp and 103bhp respectively. The engines are designed for the city and are nippy at low speeds making urban driving an enjoyable doddle. When you hit dual carriageways and motorways the Sirion will start to struggle slightly with the 1-litre and 1.3-litre models having top speeds of 99 and 106mph respectively. The Sportier 1.5-litre Sirion we tested will top out at 109mph.

6. Running Costs 8/10

With prices starting from £7,495, the entry-level 1-litre Sirion is a cheap city car which will average 56mpg and thanks to carbon dioxide emissions of just 118g/km costs £35 a year to tax. Moving up the scale, the 1.3-litre manual costs £120 a year to tax and averages 48mpg while the 42mpg 1.5-litre Sirion SX we tested is in also in tax band C. Buyers who opt for the 1.3-litre with an automatic gearbox will also pay £145 a year and get 44mpg out of their Sirion. Insurance groups vary between 4 and 6, meaning premiums shouldn’t be too steep.

7. Reliability 8/10

There shouldn’t be many problems here. Daihatsu is part-owned by bullet-proof car maker Toyota and there’s very little to go wrong with the Sirion, which felt like a well-built supermini.

8. Safety 7/10

Standard safety features on the Sirion include driver, passenger front and side airbags and anti-lock brakes with electronic brake distribution. The 1.5 SX also benefits from traction control. In the EuroNCAP crash test programme the Sirion was awarded four stars for adult occupancy and three for child.

9. Equipment 9/10

All models are well equipped for their price with the entry-level S trim getting air-conditioning, CD player, all-round electric windows and remote central locking. Next up is SE which adds alloy wheels and parking sensors while the SX trim gains the sporty bodykit and front fog lights.

10. X-Factor 8/10

In a time when people want something cheap, reliable and well equipped then the Sirion is definitely worth looking at. The engines and gearbox aren’t the most refined and it doesn’t have class-leading handling. But for the cost, the Sirion is a car full of character which will get you from A – B on a budget.

Key facts

Model tested: Daihatsu Sirion 1.5 SX
On the road price: £9,995
Price range: £7,995 – £10,795
Date tested: July 2008
Road tester: Adrian Hearn