"Many of the changes can be made with only the fingertips, while very effective synchromesh also enables the driver to thrust the lever from one gear to the next without any attempt at matching speeds."
The clutch was very light, mind you, meaning "the Daihatsu is not an easy car for a fast getaway, as some controlled clutch slip is necessary to keep the power up".
The suspension was not so impressive, even taking into account that "the rather hard-used demonstrator car was in need of a check-up and new dampers". It gave "a loose and springy ride, with pronounced vertical jogging of the rear end on any but the very smoothest roads".
We continued: "The front suspension absorbs bumps fairly well, but the rears produce uncontrolled leaps and bounces, making many roads seem much worse than they are." Meanwhile, "on washboard, severe vibration caused violent scuttle shake threatening to ruin the instruments and radio".
Naturally, handling was also not a forte. "When sharp corners are taken with verve," we detailed, "there is considerable roll and sufficient howl from the Yokohama tyres to arouse pedestrians. As well as feeling a shade top-heavy, the Daihatsu oversteers badly, even with only the driver on board."
This wasn't helped by "loose and spongy" steering with "a lot of springiness to exaggerate the impression of free play through corners". At least there was "fair directional stability" and the nose of the car "answered to small wheel movements at speed".
Thankfully, the brakes weren't on the Compagno's list of shortcomings, being strong and resistant to fade.
In terms of practicality, the Compagno was clearly engineered for the Japanese driver. The driving position itself was good, if forward vision was obscured by the steering wheel, but the seat provided "far too little reg room" and if slid all the way back "tends to shoot forward under braking". The rears didn't give much space for feet, either, although they did for heads, and were supportive and gripping through corners.
The interior was attractive, too, with an imitation wood dashboard and padded plastic areas, although the "fluffy weave" on the door trim rather ruined things. In addition, we couldn't help but notice rust pimples on the exterior brightwork.