This must be a DTW exclusive. Daihatsu offered a small-car with a tank-like demeanour.
I thought I’d like being inside this car but I didn’t. The high window-line and the cliff of dashboard coupled with the hard seats lent the car an altogether unwelcoming feeling. A casual net search showed only grey interiors. It is spacious and according to Car was quite alright if taken as an urban runabout and not a device for spirited driving. Thanks, Car, for conceding that much. They said this: “This is one of the Materia’s ace cards. It really is roomy in there, with plenty of room for four adults to
sit in comfort on long journeys. There’s a sliding and reclining rear bench, liberating limo-like legroom for back-seat passengers when slid fully back, although that will obviously pinch space from the boot. The bench is pushed fully forward – by 160mm – in this shot above, and the boot is minuscule when extended all the way back. But like other tallboy rivals, the Materia is big on space for heads and legs and arms; it’s a very roomy car, and that will appeal to young families or city dwellers who need occasional space for extra passengers.”
The ashtray is not an ashtray, as the little warning logo tells us. Daihatsu didn’t offer a heat-resistant tray but a rubber liner. The cigar lighter is absent too. It really is an ashtray and there is a suitable tray out there, certainly for the Japanese market. There must have been more cheerful versions of this car. The one I saw had a very rufty-tufty character whereas I feel Daihatsu should be above that kind of macho posturing. This is a confused car. It’s got the impression of toughness and also it’s cutely compact. What it really needed were more industrial design shapes on the inside and less of the rather over-styled, portable hi-fi look the actual car has. I usually like odd cars – this one I’ll pass on.
AutoExpress sums it up as a car that looks better than it drives: “The Materia’s 1.5-litre engine is lacking in personality, though it delivers strong performance. 103bhp helps it dash to 60mph in 10.8 seconds, and it feels responsive in gear. This is partly due to a short top gear though, which makes it sit higher in the revs on the motorway. The suspension has a similarly sporty bias, too; firm damping gives a hard edge to the ride. This helps contain body roll, dispute the Materia’s tall stance, although under hard cornering the anti-roll bar can’t stop the body heaving and unloading the opposite suspension enough for the tyre to lose traction. Add in steering that suffers kickback over bumpy surfaces, and the Materia isn’t as composed or as comfortable as it could be. However, it never feels unstable, and the brakes are good.”
Toyota versions (Scion) and a Subaru versions were also marketed. Fascinatingly, the Subaru Dex version had four-wheel drive as an option. Production ceased in 2012.