While you may not have realised at the time, Daihatsu sadly ceased sales in Britain way back in 2013. Known for their small, reliable, and all round sensible cars, it’s no surprise that no one really noticed. However, while we only ever saw Daihatsu’s dodgy Y-fronts, Japan gets the full leopard-print mankini – their current JDM kei car lineup is completely bonkers and I think there’s a good case for their return to the UK. Here are my top five from their current range:
Kicking off this kei car extravaganza is the magnificent Wake. Lanky, narrow, and completely slab-sided, this thing has cross-wind crash written all over it. As with all of the cars on this list it’s fitted with a turbocharged 658cc 3-cylinder engine which is probably more than enough in something so aerodynamically unstable. With bright colour options, bad-boy alloys, and seats that fold into a double bed, it would surely be a hit with the youths of Great Britain.
4. Mira Cocoa
Aww, how adorable is this? Apparently inspired by the Renault 4, this charming retro hatchback perfectly encapsulates the cutesy side of Japanese culture. While we Europeans may have the Fiat 500, the Mira Cocoa is the same size but is a proper 5-door with easily enough space for four full-size Richard Hammonds.
Look at this nugget of excellence! Another aerodynamically-interesting MPV-type-thing, the Canbus is essentially a Japanese VW camper. Not only does it have chrome trim everywhere and that oh-so-retro paint job, it gets the same seating layout as the Wake, meaning home is where you park it. With prices starting from about £10,500 it’s certainly cheaper than a VW and there’s even a carbon-clad racey version that’s guaranteed to get you the best pitch in that windy Welsh campsite.
2. Move Front Seat Lift
No, that is not an ejecto seato, cuz. The Move Front Seat Lift (yes, that really is its name) is for the less able JDM bros and broettes. An otherwise standard Daihatsu Move fitted with what is essentially a Stannah Stairlift, this ingeniously designed car would surely be a hit among the oldiewonks of the UK.
Topping our list, is this bundle of JDM goodness - the latest Copen. If you’re familiar with the old model – once described on Top Gear as an expensive shoe – then the recipe for the current model will be no surprise. Two seats, a folding hard top, and some fancy leather seats all wrapped up in a tiny but great looking body. With 668cc of pure unbridled terror lurking under the bonnet, this 63bhp monster is the perfect sportscar for modern Britain’s crowded streets.
So there it is, my top 5. There are loads more to choose from though (over 20!) on Daihatsu’s website. Britain really is missing out!
Let me know what you’d choose in the comments.