The Daihatsu Wake is not new, launched in 2014 but might be new to many readers. How does 3.39 metres strike you?
The car conforms to Kei-car rules so it’s tiny, an exercise in very confined creativity. The third side glass stands out as a detail hinting at the car’s robustness, apparently citing the Mk1 Discovery. Notice the way the glass is allowed to carry on up to the radius at the side of the roof, a little quality touch adding some expense and visual interest.
The design fuses two contradictory needs: to be small and to be tough-looking. It weighs in at under a tonne. The interior (see below) is designed to work as a base for outdoor activities and the seats can be folded fully flat making them into beds. The sliding door allows owners to treat the vehicle as a mobile camp: throw open the door and have a semi-alfesco lunch wherever you can bring the vehicle.
The designers resisted the urge to black out the A-pillar, leaving a curiously long and thin pane, aft of which is the mirror. The radii on the A-pillar and bonnet are nicely integrated into the lamp. Only the truncated zag of the bumper stands out as being a little forced. Overall, the form is tidy, strong and fun, very typical of Japanese design.
The exterior colour palette is also there to emphasise good humour. I notice that there’s one boring colour, a grey white. The rest of them are candy hues meaning you will probably never see a boring Wake on the street.
Turning to the interior we find a somewhat busy confection. Some imagination was applied to the instruments (below) which are three semi-circles jostling in a cut-out on the top of the dash. A useful shelf sits in front of the front passenger; square summarises the interior theme.
A tour of the Daihatsu website shows only grey interiors. I would have expected at least a warm brown or beige option.
There is a little impression of driving it here: “What I found surprising from test driving this car was that the car felt stable and composed despite its ridiculous height. Its center of gravity is actually only 10mm higher than the Tanto and the front and rear stabilizers were retuned. Even when I accelerated hard and dove into a corner, the suspension absorbed the forces really well keeping it stable. Overall body roll is suppressed well and the movement is quite smooth. You feel secure behind the wheel with its surprisingly restrained chassis.”
In this image you can see how small the boot must be. I could not find data: maybe 200 litres, at the most. This photo (below) shows the 2013 Daihatsu Deca Deca concept which had much more interesting door skins:
I am not sure what is so radically unacceptable about those Deca Deca door panels. The production car lacks the fully open aperture; it has a B-post aft of the driver. Still, those interesting bagel shape (and the nice colours) could have been adapted for the car in production form.
The Wake has a 4.4 metre turning circle. And TopGear saw fit to add to a list of ten Kei-cars they really liked. “There are 52bhp and 63bhp versions, and front- and four-wheel-drive options, while sliding doors and an extremely low boot floor make it exceedingly practical for its size. The colour scheme is also shared with a packet of Skittles. Beats a Yaris every day of the week.”
This is a regular and plaintive call, for some of these rather original cars to be sold in the EU. Presumably crash regulations militate against this. What we might learn is once again to make more entertaining smaller cars. The corresponding small vehicle from European manufacturers insist on trying to be more serious and grown-up than is required. Isn’t this the kind of thing Fiat or Citroen might have a go at?