Complete Daihatsu Charmant lineup, specs, economy, dimensions

1982 Daihatsu Charmant (A) - Technical Specs, Fuel economy, Dimensions1981 - 1987 Daihatsu Charmant SedanCharmant (A)5 Trims 65 to 83 Hp

The Daihatsu Charmant (French for charming) ran for two generations and was introduced in 1974 as an entry meant to give Daihatsu a car that wasn’t as small as customers have come to expect. At the time of its introduction, the Charmant was the largest Daihatsu car sold in Japan. The first generation was almost completely based on the Toyota Corolla at the time and shared quite a few similarities. The two ended up being more different by the second generation where Daihatsu did a lot more work on making the Charmant more unique.

This subcompact car was offered as a 4-door saloon for the entirety of its run, but a 5-door station wagon version was available for a little bit during the first generation. Both versions are quite spacious and comfortable, which was again the aim of Daihatsu from the beginning. The look of the car has been debated over the years, but most agreed that it did live up to the meaning of its name and was indeed charming.

Powered throughout the years by numerous engines, including a 1.2L and 1.3L four-cylinder engines for the first generation and while the second generation did not try to upgrade with anything too big, it did have an export variation that featured a 1.6L 1588cc 2T engine. Transmission options included a 4-speed or 5-speed manual and a 3-speed automatic. Later European market models came with a catalyzed 4A engine that was slightly more powerful.

The overall performance of the Charmant has been average but reports aren’t negative by any means. The suspension on the car is soft and comfortable while the steering is decently responsive. It does a decent job of getting you from point a to point b and the spaciousness is a nice touch, ensuring that you are not cramped up. Considering that Daihatsu in general makes most small cars that manage to not be too cramped, it’s not a surprise that they did a good job when they had more real estate to work with.

The main thing that was praised for this car was that it’s overall quite reliable for its price range and the overall package. It continues to sell on the used market in some numbers, but at the end of the day, it just didn’t offer too much for the market at the time while it was in production. Other, better offerings existed by Daihatsu and extension Toyota that just didn’t leave enough room for it to continue to exist. It eventually went off the production line in late 1987 after a few more tries to give it a facelift or some minor upgrades. This left Daihatsu without a compact sedan for a couple of years, when the Applause was introduced with slightly better success than the Charmant.

Regardless of whether you think this car was a hit or a miss, it still wasn’t bad by any means. It’s quite the definition of an average car that just offers enough to not feel like a waste of the money you’ve spent. But once again better cars existed for a similar price even by the same company. It just didn’t offer enough interesting options or luxuries to become a staple on the market. It did offer a decent enough experience that allowed it to not get pushed out within just a couple of years.

This car is another great example of how sometimes things aren’t designed well enough with good awareness of what the market needs and demands. It’s an entry that just lacks a lot of the creativity that both Toyota and Daihatsu have offered year after year.