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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
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
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.