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What Car? says

4 out of 5 stars

For Nippy in town and smooth-riding, the Charade is well equipped, pretty roomy and cheap

Against It's noisy on the motorway and rolls too much in bends

Verdict It's a cracking little city car from a company often overlooked, but it's a little unrefined

Go for… Five-door models

Avoid… Three-door models

Daihatsu Charade Hatchback
  • 1. Build quality is solid and the dash layout is very simple
  • 2. For such a small car, there's plenty of cabin space
  • 3. The lightweight suspension may mean problems in the future, so listen out for worrying clonks on the test drive
  • 4. Uneven tyre wear is a sign that suspension problems may be on the way
  • 5. The three-cylinder engine is fine if you only drive around town, but it's a bit stretched on the motorway
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Daihatsu Charade Hatchback full review with expert trade views

Daihatsu is a manufacturer often forgotten by buyers, which is a shame. The firm makes some cracking small cars, and the Charade is one of its best.

Inside, there's plenty of space for such a small car, and the upright seating position means four adults can travel in comfort. The cabin feels very grown up, too. The materials are classier than you might expect, the build quality is solid and the dash layout is very simple.

On the road, the Charade is best kept confined to city streets, where its sprightly little engine is perfect for exploiting gaps in traffic, and the smooth ride stays settled on any surface.

However, the Charade does struggle once you're out of town. There's too much body lean and not enough grip in corners down country lanes, and 60/70mph main-road journeys are too noisy. Keep it in the environment it was designed for, though, and the Charade won't disappoint.

Trade view

John Owen

Slow-selling town car but very reliable

John Owen
Buyer,
Fords of Winsford

Your choice of engine is simple - there's only one. The 1.0-litre, three-cylinder petrol engine gives 58bhp, and it's surprisingly nippy around busy city streets.

The fact that it's a three-cylinder also means that the Charade has a characterful, thrummy exhaust note - at low speeds. On the motorway, however, this thrum becomes a loud, annoying drone, because the engine has to work very hard to keep up a steady high speed.

Pre-2006 cars came in two trim levels - EL or SL. The base level EL, which was available with three- and five-door bodies, came with a reasonable amount of equipment, including central locking, electric front windows and a CD player.

The SL came as a five-door hatch only, but with more creature comforts, such as air-con, alloy wheels and side airbags. After the 2006 facelift, all cars came in EL trim, but with standard air-con.

Trade view

James Ruppert

Not many in circulation a 1.0 Si is the more appealing spec

James Ruppert
Used car guru

The Charade will cost more than a Daewoo Matiz of a similar age, but it's a better car and cheap as chips. Even relatively young models can be had for very competitive prices.

As you'd only expect from a small car with a tiny engine, it's very good on fuel, too. The Charade will give you an average fuel consumption of 58.9mpg, which is good even for the city car class, and much better than the Daewoo will manage.

Insurance costs are an oddity with the Charade. Three-door models weigh in with a group three premium, whereas five-door models are two groups higher in group five, despite the fact that it has the same engine and power output. Still, neither version will be very pricey to cover.

On the other hand, servicing costs are a bit higher than a Daewoo's, despite the fact that the Charade only needs routine servicing every 12,000 miles compared with the Daewoo's 10,000-mile intervals.

Trade view

John Owen

Slow-selling town car but very reliable

John Owen
Buyer,
Fords of Winsford

Being a relatively small manufacturer, Daihatsu is rarely included in reliability surveys or the JD Power Customer Satisfaction Survey. However, Daihatsu has made some incredibly reliable cars in the past, and that doesn't just apply to the big cars like the Fourtrak off-roader.

The Cuore was a little car with a big reputation for reliability, and the Charade promises to be even better. According to Warranty Direct, few complaints have so far been received. Because of its simplicity and inherent toughness, little should go wrong.

What's more, because the Charade is so cheap, most buyers should be able to afford a car that's new enough to have some of the original three-year/unlimited mileage warranty left on it.

The lightweight suspension will be the most likely cause of problems in the future, so listen out for the onset of clonks from underneath. Uneven tyre wear is another sign that suspension problems are on the way.

Trade view

James Ruppert

Not many in circulation a 1.0 Si is the more appealing spec

James Ruppert
Used car guru
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