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Is it a Materia world? Image by Syd Wall.

Is it a Materia world?
Daihatsu's oddball Materia may be at home on the streets of Tokyo, but how does it sit with British sensibilities?

 



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| A Week at the Wheel | Herts, England | Daihatsu Materia |

Inside & Out: star star star star star

You've got to admire Daihatsu for bringing the odd-looking Materia over here. Perfectly at home on the wacky streets of Tokyo, the Materia's styling can only be described as a bit quirky. However, that's not a complaint, the Daihatsu turning heads and standing out like little else on the road. In black we reckon it's got more than a passing resemblance to a certain D. Vader's headgear too, which is kind of cool. The inside is similarly quirky, the central instrument cluster, mood lighting and pod-like speakers for the stereo protruding from the dash meaning it's quite unlike anything else we've driven recently.

It's spacious in there too, the Materia taking up little road space but maximising its small footprint. Undoubtedly the high roof and lofty seating position is responsible for the bigger car feel, though those in the back are treated to decent space too, so long as you don't slide the seats forward too much to maximise the luggage space. Fold down all the seats and the Materia transforms into a double bed, which is, err, useful. A bit of a Marmite car looks-wise, but then we rather like it for being so different inside and out.

Engine & Transmission: star star star star star

Only offered with the one engine in the UK, the 1.5-litre petrol unit does a decent enough job at urban speeds. Ask more of it on the motorway and the Materia's tall, square-set front inevitably blunts the performance. The engine itself is a willing enough unit, revving keenly and remaining refined right up into the upper reaches of the tachometer needle's sweep. But the Materia isn't a car that should be hurried, the rather vague and long in throw gearshift ensuring that it's unlikely that you'll go out for a drive in it just for the sake of it. There's an automatic option if you can't be bothered, but you pay for your laziness with further blunted performance, the 0-62mph time dropping from a respectable 10.8 seconds to a rather slovenly 13.7 seconds.

Ride & Handling: star star star star star

The Materia's natural environment is the city and there it excels. The suspension is compliant enough to shrug off most potholes and manhole covers at town speeds. However, up the pace a bit beyond suburbia and the Materia's deficiencies become apparent. On 'export' models there are additional anti-roll bars to keep it flatter when cornering, and they're reasonably effective. Combined with the larger wheel and tyres that come as standard Daihatsu promises the Materia provides greater resistance to understeer. That's as may be, but it's still not the sharpest car in its class, the Renault Modus or Vauxhall Agila offering a better ride/handling balance, even if there's not much in it. Push the Materia down an undulating road and the body control is tested too far, the result being a bouncy ride, but really, few will ever notice - nor care - the Materia a useful urban runabout.

Equipment, Economy & Value for Money: star star star star star

Along with its appealing looks comes a pretty appealing price. Daihatsu will only be bringing in a handful every year, so rather than trouble the dealers with options the Materia is only offered in just one decently specified guise. All Materias come with air conditioning, dark tinted rear privacy glass, those sliding rear seats, keyless entry and polished alloy wheels. The only variations on the theme are the availability of the automatic model and the option of metallic paint. Economy in either the auto or the manual is okay rather than exceptional, the manual returning an official combined average of 39.2mpg, and the auto 37.7mpg. CO2 emissions is 169g/km and 176g/km respectively. The Materia is pretty decent value, though what it'll be worth in a few years time remains open to debate.

Overall: star star star star star

Not an obvious choice in the mini MPV market, but one that shouldn't be overlooked. Natural rivals like the Renault Modus, Vauxhall Agila and Nissan's excellent Note are all arguably more sensible choices in this class, but if you want to stand out then the Daihatsu Materia is the obvious choice.

Kyle Fortune - 23 Jan 2008









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2007 Daihatsu Materia specifications: (manual)
Price: £10,995 on-the-road.
0-62mph: 10.8 seconds
Top speed: 106mph
Combined economy: 39.2mpg
Emissions: 169g/km
Kerb weight: 1035kg

Full technical specifications

2007 Daihatsu Materia. Image by Syd Wall.2007 Daihatsu Materia. Image by Syd Wall.2007 Daihatsu Materia. Image by Syd Wall.2007 Daihatsu Materia. Image by Syd Wall.2007 Daihatsu Materia. Image by Syd Wall.

2007 Daihatsu Materia. Image by Syd Wall.2007 Daihatsu Materia. Image by Syd Wall.2007 Daihatsu Materia. Image by Syd Wall.2007 Daihatsu Materia. Image by Syd Wall.2007 Daihatsu Materia. Image by Syd Wall.



2007 Daihatsu Materia. Image by Syd Wall.
 

2007 Daihatsu Materia. Image by Syd Wall.
 

2007 Daihatsu Materia. Image by Syd Wall.
 

2007 Daihatsu Materia. Image by Syd Wall.
 

2007 Daihatsu Materia. Image by Syd Wall.
 






 

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