Daihatsu Tanto

Debut: 2013
Maker: Daihatsu
Predecessor: Tanto (2008)

 Published on 14 Nov 2014
All rights reserved. 

In the beginning, K-cars were supposed to serve the basic needs of people who could not afford normal cars. This is no longer the case now. Today, there are minivan-style K-cars that are more spacious, more versatile and more attractive than conventional cars like Toyota Corolla. In addition to their price, tax and fuel economy advantages, many Japanese motorists migrate from conventional segments to K-minivans, creating a boom to the latter. Last year, Honda N-Box stole the first place of K-car sales chart and third in the overall Japanese car market. This year, its position is being leapfrogged by the new generation Daihatsu Tanto. Up to October, there are already more than 200,000 Tantos sold. The rise of N-Box and Tanto shows that the K-car market is being increasingly dominated by minivans.

Seeing how much space and luggage utility it offers, you can’t help falling in love with Tanto. Predictably, its footprint is limited to 3395 mm x 1475 mm, but it makes good use of the z-axis and has its roof raised to 1750 mm. The box-shape body wastes no space, while large and upright windows deliver a light and airy ambience. The dash design is neat and doesn’t intrude to passenger space. Twin-sliding rear doors allow easy entry and exit even at tight parking space. The roadside door aperture is particularly large, thanks to the removal of B-pillar. Moreover, the front passenger seat slides forward to release more space for the access of second row. This means families with children or elderly will love the car.

Once you have entered the car, you will find an incredibly spacious environment. The floor is flat, which is convenient for taking dogs. Children may stand straight without touching the roof. Second-row legroom is aplenty for even six-footers as the seat is placed far back and completely above the wheel wells. It is not quite as generous as N-Box though, as the rear seat doesn’t slide. Instead, it is double-hinged to the floor. To expand luggage space, you can drop the rear seat to the foot well, fold the seatbacks and create a flat loading space together with the boot floor. In this way you can place bikes, large dogs or enormous amount of cargo.

The new Tanto looks as if a facelift of the old car, but it is actually built on the new platform of Move. Chief improvement is the addition of anti-roll bars on all but the entry-level models to resist body roll resulted from its tallness. This should be considered as successful as the new car is really more stable in corner, lane changes as well as on straight line. This also frees up the steering response, which was deliberately made slow in the last incarnation to avoid instability. The suspension springs have been softened, but overall the ride characteristic is firmer, more European-like. Composure is improved on undulations, while the body’s sound deadening is also noticeably improved.

Like its siblings, its weak point is engine. The standard 660 c.c. three-cylinder DVVT engine produces only 52 ps and a peaky torque delivery of 44 pound-foot at 5200 rpm. Coupling to the CVT and 930 kg kerb weight the result is a painfully slow progress on the road and a lot of noise under acceleration. This means the 64 ps turbocharged version a better bet. Its stronger mid-range torque lifts performance to satisfactory level, while power delivery is also smoother and quieter. Neither engines are as powerful as Honda’s as they are tuned to favour fuel economy.

Length / width / height
Valve gears
Other engine features
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Max torque
Suspension layout

Suspension features
Kerb weight
Top speed
0-60 mph (sec)
0-100 mph (sec)
Tanto turbo
Front-engined, FWD
Steel monocoque
Mainly steel
3395 / 1475 / 1750 mm
2455 mm
658 cc
DOHC 12 valves
64 hp / 6400 rpm
68 lbft / 3200 rpm
F: strut
R: torsion-beam
940 kg

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