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What Car? says

2 out of 5 stars

For It's got distinctly quirky looks, it's well-equipped and cheap to buy and run

Against The Sirion is noisy, has a cheap interior and doesn't drive very well

Verdict It's decent if you rate value and style over ability; pretty much useless if you don't

Go for… 1.3 SL

Avoid… F-Speed auto/4track models

Daihatsu Sirion Hatchback
  • 1. The materials in the cabin are of poor quality
  • 2. The brittle suspension is damaged easily by careless driving, so check it carefully on a test drive
  • 3. Only a buy a car with a full service history. If regular maintenance is skimped, coolant leaks can occur
  • 4. If the clutch cable breaks, it can damage the gearbox, so ensure it has been regularly maintained
  • 5. Pay attention to the ride on a test drive. It's too firm for many people's tastes
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Daihatsu Sirion Hatchback full review with expert trade views

There seem to be hundreds of superminis out there, most of which look identical. The same can't be said of the Sirion. Its styling is undeniably unusual, but it manages to look almost elegant.

The Sirion's other big plus point is financial. It's cheap to buy and even cheaper to run, with fuel economy being particularly impressive.

However, that's where the Sirion's list of merits ends. There are plenty of superminis that offer significantly more space inside than the Sirion. Also, the quality of the materials and the design in the cabin fall woefully short of the style that the outside promises.

It's not a brilliant car to drive, either. It's gruff in town, rides too firmly and there's too much vibration in the cabin. On faster roads, there's pronounced body lean and a shortage of grip in bends, and too much noise on the motorway.

Trade view

John Owen

Chrome grill gives it the look of a ’60s electric fire. Dimplex beware

John Owen
Buyer,
Fords of Winsford

Initially, there were two versions, Sirion and Sirion Plus. Each had a 54bhp 1.0-litre engine that was breathless at speed, but good at zipping the car around town.

The standard car provided basic kit, including power steering, twin front airbags and electric mirrors. The Plus did much better, coming with air-con, central locking, side airbags, anti-lock brakes and four powered windows. This is the one we'd recommend.

The range was face-lifted in 2000, when the two existing trim levels were rebadged E and EL, and a new version called the SL was introduced. The SL had the same specification as the EL, but with sports seats and a new 102bhp 1.3-litre engine, which provided some much-needed extra power.

Eventually, Daihatsu introduced a whole range of variants including a 4trak four-wheel-drive version and even an F-Speed model with a ridiculous F1-style paddle-shift gearbox. Leave these versions alone, and go for either an early Plus or a 1.3 SL.

Trade view

James Ruppert

Limited models in the marketplace but a 1.3 SL will sell

James Ruppert
Used car guru

Early versions can be picked up for next to nothing, and since the later cars weren't much better, we'd recommend a pre-2000 one to keep your costs right down. That said, even the latest '04/04 models can be had for less than half the original price, which was cheap to start with.

It's the Sirion's fuel economy that's especially impressive, though. Buy the 1.0-litre and you'll get an average of 51.4mpg, which is good enough to outstrip almost any other petrol-powered supermini. The 1.3 isn't bad, either, returning an average of 49.6mpg, and even the daft F-Speed and 4trak versions will do 44.8mpg.

Insurance costs aren't as great, though. The breathless little 1.0 will cost you a group five premium, while choosing the 1.3 SL will hike this up to group eight. The F-Speed and 4trak models sit in groups eight and nine, respectively. Servicing is pricey, too, despite competitive 12,000-mile service intervals.

Trade view

John Owen

Chrome grill gives it the look of a ’60s electric fire. Dimplex beware

John Owen
Buyer,
Fords of Winsford

Being a relatively small-selling manufacturer, Daihatsu is rarely included in reliability surveys or the JD Power Customer Satisfaction survey. However, some of the company's products in the past have been more or less unbreakable - the Fourtrak off-roader and the Cuore city car are good examples.

The data we've seen indicates that the Sirion might not be up to this level in terms of reliability, but it should prove pretty dependable. There are a few areas to take extra care with, though.

The brittle suspension is damaged easily by careless driving, so look for signs of lumps and bumps taken out of the wheels and bodywork that might show that the previous owner was careless.

Make sure that the service intervals have been adhered to rigorously, too. If the clutch cable hasn't been looked after, it can break and damage the transmission, so it needs regular attention. Likewise, coolant leaks can also occur if the previous owner scrimps on maintenance.

Trade view

James Ruppert

Limited models in the marketplace but a 1.3 SL will sell

James Ruppert
Used car guru
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