When it arrives in the UK, the Sirion will be available with two petrol engines: an all-new 1.0-litre 68bhp twin-cam triple and a detuned 84bhp version of the 1.3-litre four cylinder from the old car. Daihatsu claims the 1.3 has been tuned for low-end torque to suit a European driving style, with 89lb ft arriving at 3200rpm. Diesel engines are in the works, but we won’t see an oil-burning Sirion for a few years yet.
The offbeat thrum and gutsy performance of the 1.0-litre three-pot won our affection over the raucous four. An extra cylinder seems to rob the 1.3 of the base model’s sense of urgency and drumbeat engine note.
Despite an all-new platform and retuned MacPherson strut front and torsion beam rear suspension, the new car’s ride and handling characteristics haven’t changed much over the old model’s. Skinny 175/65 R14 tyres don’t help, and understeer arrives early if you push in corners, but the Sirion quickly tightens its line if you lift the throttle, and the ride is relaxed.
The interior design is a step up from the previous car’s staid layout. A silver-painted fascia panel creates a pleasing ambience and there’s a large speedo and Smart-style separate rev-counter. The switchgear is nicely weighted but, as with its predecessor, plastic quality is poor.
The front seats are now mounted even higher than before, giving the Sirion an MPV-like driving position. But this makes the gearshift feel too far down, even with the driver’s seat in its lowest position, which is a shame because the slick, precise action of the gearbox makes changing cogs fun.