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Souped-up Sirion has plenty of zip

Add-ons: The Sirion GTvi gains a host of sporty add-ons to differentiate it from its lesser sibling.

Daihatsu has pulled the wraps off a budget-priced hatchback with zippy performance

7 Nov 2000

DAIHATSU'S line-up will be boosted in early October by a new performance flagship - the Sirion GTvi.

The newcomer is based on the existing Sirion but gains a hot 1.3-litre engine as well as a host of other sporting add-ons.

It is priced from just $15,990, making it the cheapest "hot-hatch" on the market.

Its closest rivals on price include the likes of the Hyundai Accent GS ($17,590) and Daewoo Lanos Sport ($17,000).

Apart from costing less, the Sirion also scores over its competitors by virtue of having five doors and superior equipment levels.

A "steershift" automatic transmission with buttons on the steering wheel for upshifts and downshifts - along the lines of the Porsche Tiptronic - adds $1800 to the cost.

At the car's heart lies a free-revving, 1.3-litre, four-cylinder engine that features four valves per cylinder and DVVT (dynamic variable valve timing).

It cranks out an impressive 75kW at 7000rpm and 120Nm at 4400rpm. Its peak power output is 15 per cent higher than the 1.5-litre engine used in the Charade F2.

Daihatsu says the five-speed manual gearbox is a new unit that can handle the extra grunt of the 1.3-litre powerplant.

The four-speed auto is also a new transmission and is said to deliver quick, smooth shifts. The steer-shift facility is activated by slotting the gear lever to D4 and flicking a switch on the dashboard.

The uprated drivetrain is complemented by revised suspension featuring a larger diameter rear stabiliser bar and stiffer spring and damper rates.

It also gains 14-inch alloy wheels shod with 165/65 tyres.

Other specification enhancements include the addition of anti-lock brakes with EBD (electronic brake-force distribution), four-speaker CD stereo, alloy wheels, full body kit, chrome door handles and side mouldings, sports steering wheel, leather gearshift boot and driving lights.

This supplements the features already standard in the base model Sirion: dual airbags, power windows and mirrors, central locking and rear window washer/wiper.

Daihatsu says the Sirion GTvi meets the new Y2K ADR standards for offset and side-impact crash protection.

This claim is backed by the Sirion's performance in the latest round of ANCAP (Australian New Car Assessment Program) small car crash tests.

It was the best performer in the tests - along with the Mazda 323 and Ford Laser - earning a rating of three stars out of a possible maximum of four.

"It (the Sirion GTvi) will change perceptions about Daihatsu, Japan's oldest car-maker, and introduce a whole new customer to Daihatsu dealerships," says the senior executive vice-president of Toyota Australia, Mr John Conomos.

Daihatsu's local operations were taken over by parent company Toyota earlier this year, a move that may provide the small-car specialist with added impetus.

The company aims to sell 200 examples of the GTvi per month, which will effectively double the Sirion's sales volume.

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