For the second time in a week, PetrolBlog is going to point out that 20 years is a long time in the car world. Cast your mind back to April 2000, when Daihatsu was alive and kicking in the UK.
Turning to the back pages of Car magazine reveals that Daihatsu offered no fewer than eight different model lines in the UK. Eight!
That’s two more than Audi (A3, A4, A6, A8, Cabriolet/Coupe and TT), one more than Volkswagen (Lupo, Polo, Golf, Beetle, Bora, Passat and Sharan), and only one fewer than Mercedes-Benz (A-Class, C-Class, E-Class, S-Class, SLK, CLK, M-Class, SL and V-Class).
Note the near absence of SUVs and crossovers. How times change.
What’s most striking about Daihatsu in 2000 is the breadth, depth and variety of the range. Cover the badges and the layman would have little clue that they were from the same company. Daihatsu was to cars what Quality Street is to chocolate – you never knew what you were gonna get.
Crucially, there wasn’t a Noisette Triangle left in the showroom when the other goodies had gone.
Honestly, walking into a Daihatsu dealer in the year 2000 must have been like watching a UB40 appearance on Top of the Pops. So many faces in one small space.
The entry-level Cuore was a Japanese Mini for around three grand less than the Rover. The Charade and Sirion were designed to tempt you out of a Ford Fiesta, while the bonkers Move, Grand Move and Hijet were three takes on the MPV formula.
This left the Terios as the soft-roader and the Fourtrak as the hardcore 4×4. The remaining examples of the latter can be viewed on farmland across the country, in various states of disrepair.
A decade later, the Daihatsu range had shrunk to just four cars (Sirion, Materia, Copen and Terios). Today, Daihatsu is absent from these shores, with the axe falling in 2011. A sad end for what was the first Japanese car company to import models into the UK.
The Daihatsu UK website is still live, so there’s hope the company will return. In the meantime, take a look at the Japanese website to see what we’re missing out on. PetrolBlog will take a Copen, Mira Tocot and a Wake, please.
Here are some more memories of 2000. Imagine them parked by the fountain down the road.