Daihatsu has long been specializing in the creation of Kei cars that are reliable, cheap and of course very compact. So when the Rocky was announced (at least its badge reintroduction) in 2017 as a 5-door compact SUV, it was hard not to be curious. Just how well can Daihatsu handle another attempt at designing a car that is just a tad bigger? Let’s find out.
Starting with the exterior, the Rocky looks really good. The large hexagonal grille gives the car a nice playful, yet aggressive look. The uniquely shaped headlights complement that by making the car look like it’s playfully smirking at you, ready to have fun. This continues to persist throughout the rest of the design through the sequential turn lights, angular bumpers, and the shark fin antenna. Everything about Rocky’s exterior design is sleek, well throughout, and aggressively playful.
Under the hood, the Rocky is powered by a 996 cc turbocharged three-cylinder engine or an 1198 cc non-turbocharged three-cylinder engine. They are capable of producing 97 horsepower and 86-7 horsepower respectively. The Daihatsu Rocky is also available as a petrol hybrid that has the same non-turbocharged engine but is paired with a 78 kW (105 hp) E1A AC synchronous electric motor. Transmission is handled by either a CVT or a 5-speed manual gearbox. Once you are going on the road you will notice that this car handles really well and that the suspension has been set for great comfort. You get a tight turning circle as well and you still get to feel like you are driving a heavier, tougher vehicle. Being a Daihatsu car, fuel efficiency is better than expected for an SUV, especially on the hybrid.
The interior is sleek and well-designed. The seating is comfortable and the dash is clearly made by Daihatsu as it rehashes a lot of their design tricks. For the most part, none of the materials feel cheap, even the LED digital speedometer that is very presentable. The nine-inch audio display can be paired with your smartphone for extra control features. Even the multifunction steering wheel is leather stitched, which is just another great touch. When it comes to space, the Daihatsu Rocky doesn’t disappoint. This car is really spacious for both the driver and the passengers and the cargo space is very generous (especially after folding the rear seats forward) making it great for short-to-mid-range family trips.
This car has a four-wheel drive and a lot of active and passive safety features. It even has mud & waterproof interior elements. This is normal for a lot of SUVs but it’s also where the Rocky kind of falls short. There is a lot to like here, but you won’t be able to take this car off-roading or generally challenge it very hard. It tries, but it’s more of a city car than anything else. And in that area, it shines quite well. During a lot of crash tests, the Rocky was able to get decent safety ratings, with side impacts being its strongest suit.
If you are looking for a spacious car, which is fun to drive, and great looking, while still smaller than a lot of the options on the market, then the Daihatsu Rocky is worth looking into. It offers good fuel economy and will get you through a lot of the expected driving situations without a hitch. You get all of that with a few fun touches of sleek design and a nice comfortable ride for all of those inside. It’s not perfect, but it’s also not as expensive as your other potential options in the segment.