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The latest kei car to jump into the Japanese marketplace is the Daihatsu Sonica, which was released yesterday. Available in three trim levels, R, RS, and RS Limited, all Sonicas are powered by a 64-horsepower 658cc 3-cylinder turbo which is connected to a new CVT. The CVT is also brand-new and makes its debut on the Sonica. The car is available in both 2WD and 4WD configurations and is a fuel-sipper, as you'd expect. Depending on the drivetrain, it gets 54 mpg (2WD) or 49 mpg (4WD).

Stylewise, the Sonica is an attractive little hatchback, whose slab-sidedness is mitigated nicely through the use of an upwardly sloping oval shape for the side windows. While the R model is a bit of a stripper, contentwise, R and RS cars are available with dress-up parts like directional alloys, and get a leather-wrapped MOMO steering wheel as standard equipment. Because we're talking about Japan, there are plenty of factory accessories that can be added to further personalize the car. (Gold wheels? Yes!)

Dash layout is clean and simple, and buyers can choose from red or black for the seating surfaces. The car meets European crash safety standards and also incorporates pedestrian protection features as part of its design. Prices range from ¥1.13 - 1.475 million.

(Interior shots, press release after the jump)

[Source: Daihatsu] Sonica dashSonica consoleSonica seating

19th June, 2006

Daihatsu Launches New Mini Passenger Car SONICA

DAIHATSU MOTOR CO., LTD. (Daihatsu) announced the launch in Japan of the new SONICA* mini passenger car on June 19.

The SONICA is a new concept car, developed in the pursuit of innovatively high quality driving performance for a small car. With target buyer focus on commonly known "freestyle couples" who place great importance on their own personalities and private time, this car anticipates recent lifestyle changes in Japan, as well as the shift of user preference toward smaller cars. The SONICA is the result of Daihatsu's continuing quest for passenger cars that give their users the driving enjoyment and cruising comfort they are seeking.

Key features of the newly launched SONICA:

Car body design that brings refreshment and excitement
  • Low, long body configuration that conveys an image of comfortable driving
Spacious, comfortable interior that relaxes
  • Low floor, long and wide interior space
  • Roomy interior that gently encompasses passengers; bench seats that make cruising enjoyable
Traveling performance ideal for cruising
  • Turbo engine equipped with newly developed CVT (Continuously Variable Transmission) achieves smoothly controlled yet powerful driving force, with low fuel consumption (2WD: 23.0 km/L*3, lowest among the class**; 4WD: 21.0 km/L***).
  • Exhilarating steering feel, relaxing ride
  • Low interior noise that accommodates lively conversation
*:        SONICA is a coined name, representing a soaring and nimble car.
**:      According to Daihatsu's June 2006 survey for light vehicles with turbo engines
***:     Based on 10-15 Japanese test cycle. Figures reviewed by the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure and Transport

Monthly sales target in Japan: 2,000 units
Manufacturer's suggested retail price (excluding consumption tax): ¥1.13 - 1.475 million
(Photo shows 2WD/RS Limited grade of SONICA, priced at ¥1.35 million.)

Main Specifications

All Grades (R, RS, RS Limited)
Overall length (mm)                         3,395
Overall width (mm)                           1,475
Overall height (mm)                         1,470
Wheelbase (mm)                             2,440
Seating capacity (persons)            4
Engine type                                       KF-DET
Displacement (cc)                           658
Maximum output (kW/rpm)             47/6,000
Maximum torque (N•m/rpm)          103/3,000
Transmission                                   CVT
Power Train                                       2WD/4WD

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    • 1 Second Ago
      • 8 Years Ago
      Not shabby. Looking at those pictures, Daihatsu seems to be right up with Honda and Toyota for interior styling and quality of materials. That's a long way from the Charade...

      I have to say, I'm fascinated by the kei segment of cars. It's amazing how much functionality can be packed into a small space when it's a tall, two-box design... in terms of balancing utility with economy, these are probably some of the most practical vehicles on the planet.
      • 8 Years Ago
      Hi. I live in Australia, I own Daihatsu Cuore. Brilliant, cheap to run, I recommend the brand highly. Love the new Sonica. Sadly, we won't see it here as Daihatsu pulled out of the Australian market this year. So, go & buy a DAIHATSU! You won't regret it.

      andrew trezise
      • 8 Years Ago
      I love the Sonica, I own a Cuore. The color scheme and the interior of the Sonica are fantastic! GO daihatsu!

      andrew trezise, Melbourne
      • 8 Years Ago
      In other words, "If the Sonica's a rockin', don't come a knockin'...
      • 8 Years Ago
      Actually Daihatsu is selling their own variant of one of the Scions.
      • 8 Years Ago
      Well now we know where the supposed 2008 Honda Fit spy-chops came from!
      • 8 Years Ago
      The Japanese have an odd sense of style. The early success of the Fit here suggests it might be contageous.

      Gotta love the Malibu front end on this car. And when the shifter's in D the HVAC knob appears to require a reach-around. Putting the HVAC next to the shifter might be a new one. Expecting the passenger to do it?
      • 8 Years Ago

      #1, I know you're trying to make fun of small cars, but I believe Daihatsu is partly owned by Toyota. It would have been smarter to associate this car with the next gen Scion.
      • 8 Years Ago
      Hi i have a daihatsu move plus i love my little car but trying to buy assesories is a nightmare just want to fancy it up abit,id like to put side skirts on and buy gadgets in red bit like i say ive had no luck,has anyone got any idea of which car assesories sites i could look at.
      • 6 Years Ago
      Been a Daihatsu lover for years. I have owned 2 in my life.I live in Australia & you don't see many of the later models about. I owned a Sirion Sport 2006 one of the most economical cars I have ever driven, and brilliant on long trips. I am looking for another Daihatsu as my car has been written off in an accident (which was not my fault), but the car survived alot better than expected for a small car in a T-Bone crash. Unfortunately Australia does not sell Daihatsu's & I really liked the look of the Materia & now have just discovered the Sonica by searching the internet in New Z ealand. Seems like I might have to look at Importing one from New Zealand since Australia do not fancy the Daihatsu as one of the most economical car ever.
      • 8 Years Ago
      Just noticed the narrow front bench. Assuming they recline way back, this could be the best car ever for dating! Is this what they mean by "freestyle couples"?

      Must say I'm totally lost by the description of the body as long and low. Would like to experience the "exhilarating steering feel." All your marketers are belong to us!
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