DAIHATU’S vet:sion of the Bulletproof Bomb is a real head-turning Roaring Plenty.
It looks like something out of Wacky Races. I half expected the Anthill Mob to emerge from behind the shaded privacy glass. Its funky styling is like nothing on the road today. It’s boxy, squat, with a high, long straight roof, a square back end and small 15in spoked alloy wheels – a car modifier’s dream come true.
If you want to stand out from the crowd you will with this car. The nearest thing to touch its retro style would be Chrysler’s PT. The best colour probably is black, especially with those darkened rear windows. Depending on your viepoint.
The best colour probably is black, especially with those darkened rear windows. Depending on your viewpoint its style will be seen as cute or quirky. Like Marmite, you’ll love it or hate it.
The Daihatsu Materia, boxy may have something of a cult following in Japan, but its extravagant looks might be a bit too wild for British drivers with European taste for sleek and curve.
Daihatsu Materia INTERIOR
Inside it’s got mini-MPV practicality and is similar in size to the Renault Modus or Vauxhall Meriva.
Funky interior features like glowing blue circular speakers in the doors, blue-lit armrests and acrylic black panels are certainly different.
Lighting up the speakers is an ideal that was adopted by Kia for its funky model, the Soul Burner but the Materia’s interior is generally otherwise fairly low key. The plastics weren’t too bad and the car had a general feeling of reliability, let down in the test car by a strangely creaking front passenger door that-sounded like something out of a horror spoof and in need of a spot of WD40 on the hinges.
The main instrument panel sited bang in the middle on top of the dash was a bit odd. Why not directly in front of the driver?
Daihatsu Materia EQUIPMENT
The level of standard equipment is very good for the price and includes power steering, air-conditioning, four electric windows, CD tuner with six speakers, remote central door locking, front fog lights and driver’s seat height adjustment.
Daihatsu Materia PRACTICALITY
For a small car the Materia is Tardis-like inside. Its very high roof and exceptionally short overhangs give the occupants lots of space. The back seat is on rails so it can slide fore and aft to vary the amount of rear passenger space or improve on an otherwise small boot.
This, combined with 60/40 split backrests that are also adjustable for rake or, like the front seats, can be fully-reclined to produce a bed give it a lot of Brownie points for practicality.
Daihatsu Materia PERFORMANCE
The Materia is only available with a 1.5-litre petrol engine. Five-speed manual is standard with auto as an option. It’s great for running round town as the engine response to the throttle is good and acceleration is a reasonable 10.8 seconds off the mark for the 62mph sprint.
Top speed is 106mph. It was fun to drive except in the rain when the sound on wet roads was a bit noisy.
Daihatsu Materia RIDE AND HANDLING
It might look like a getaway car but you don’t want to attempt high-speed cornering in the Materia.
With a lot of body roll and a high roof you’d be wise not to take tight corners too fast. On normal surfaces though, the ride is good, without suffering on bumps and potholes.
Daihatsu Materia RUNNING COSTS
By today’s standards of mini MPVs, the Materia’s 39.2mpg fuel consumption is nothing to write
home about when you think that the similarly priced rival, the Honda Jazz, will give you 53.3 but it’s not as quick.
Daihatsu Materia SAFETY
Having front airbags and side airbags are also standard and there are dual side-impact door beams.
There are three rear seatbelts and the two outer seats have ISOFIX child-seat mounting points.
It has twin front and side airbags, anti-lock brakes with electronic brake distribution and four-star NCAP rating.
Daihatsu Materia VALUE
With the £10,775 on the road price comes a new five-year unlimited mileage warranty and UK roadside recovery.
Most of its rivals can’t compete on the amount of equipment for the price.
Daihatsu Materia VERDICT
If you dare to be different and can live with the looks, this could be the car for you, but shop around – there are some good rivals.
Daihatsu Materia RIVALS
Consider: Honda Jazz, Vauxhall Meriva, Renault Modus, Kia Carens, Fiat Qubo.
NEW DAIHATSU MATERIA
Engine: 1.5 manual
Top speed: 108mph
Combined mpg: 39.2mpg
OTR price: £10,775