The Daihatsu Ayla was first introduced on the market in 2012 as a 5-door hatchback as a response to the Indonesian government’s program for Low-Cost Green Cars that aims to eliminate the luxury goods tax for compliant vehicles. Naturally, the result is an economical car that is small and aims to make up for it with practicality.
This city car is perfect for narrow streets and generally over-crowded cities as its small profile offers a ton of versatility and maneuverability. Over the years, Daihatsu has increasingly made the Ayla more and more stylish in order to appeal to a much younger crowd. Reports show that this was a mostly successful move and it’s easy to see why, at least on the exterior. The latest version of the Ayla features a compact design that still tries to pull off a level of coolness even with the little styling real estate available. Even though it’s small, the Ayla definitely isn’t bland.
For the low price tag, you get a lot of interior amenities with the Ayla. The air conditioning has digital controls (something very few cars can offer at this price), you have power side mirrors and the audio unit offers a ton of input options including USB and Bluetooth. This audio unit is paired with two door-mounted speakers that sound surprisingly adequate.
There are some definite drawbacks, most notably the seating. It’s not the least comfortable seating on the market but it's a noticeably cheap feeling. The steering wheel is non-adjustable and a lot of the interior materials scream cheaper plastic. The dashboard instruments can also seem unoriginal and feel like they could belong to any basic car on the market. Despite this, the overall cabin still manages to come together nicely, and once again, considering the price tag, some negatives are to be expected. Legroom is almost surprising in the back for a car of this size, but this does come at the cost of the front-row legroom which can feel a bit cramped.
The Daihatsu Ayla has been powered by one of three different engines - a 998 cc three-cylinder engine, a VVT-i variation, and an 1197 cc in-line four engine. These are paired with either a 5-speed manual or 4-speed automatic gearbox. What will come as a surprise is that despite the price tag and size, the Ayla actually feels really good to drive. It’s snappy and maneuverable and you can even feel it get quite excited when revved up. Acceleration is also surprisingly nice. When you get on a highway, it can start to falter a little bit. The car feels too light at higher speeds and with the absence of good sound deadening, the ride can get a bit noisy. Once again, though, considering the target market and price tag, no one is expecting the Ayla to be perfect in every way.
It’s worth noting that a concept model that is still in development called the Ayla Turbo Concept exists. If it ever becomes a production model or upgrades to the normal version, it will certainly offer a more sporty experience (the concept has a bump in power and the addition of a turbocharger). Whether this will happen or not remains to be seen.
What you end up getting with the Ayla is a really good entry-level car that is cheap, reliable, and surprisingly good for the price. It comes with a few nice touches that you wouldn’t find on competing cars and performs well enough, making it perfect as a starter or student car, especially if you are located in cities with denser streets and traffic.