The Daihatsu Cuore has been marketed under various names, including the Mira in its domestic market, Domino, and Charade toward the end of its production. It is a Kei car that was built with various options and chassis variations. Outside the Japanese domestic market, the Daihatsu Cuore came with an 850cc engine at first. The market here got a separate 2-seater version of the Cuore that was sold separately as the Handivan, or Handi.
The Cuore went into production in 1980 as a replacement for the Daihatsu Max Cuore. By 1985, the second generation of the Cuore, designated the L70, was introduced. The next generation debuted in 1990 with the L200 variant. Most generations of the car came with a small 550cc or 660cc engine for the Japanese market to meet Kei class regulations and a larger engine for international markets. For example, the L20 variant had a 3-cylinder 660cc engine in Japan but a larger 847cc engine in other markets. When the fourth-generation L500 was introduced in 1994, the Daihatsu Cuore became the first Kei car with a 4-cylinder engine. Four years later, the fifth generation was introduced, and the sixth generation was launched in 2002. By 2006, a seventh-generation model was introduced, but the market stopped getting it after Daihatsu pulled out from the country.
Along with the Centro and Mira, the Daihatsu Cuore is one of the top mini cars offered by the Japanese carmaker, and it enjoyed a fair bit of success too because of the company’s solid reputation. Before the Cuore, the Daihatsu Applause and Charade had won over many in the country and established Daihatsu as a reliable manufacturer. Despite the fact that the Daihatsu Cuore was introduced in 1980, it was only launched here in 2000, when it was in its fifth generation. Before this, the Cuore was sold as a van for some time.
The Daihatsu Cuore came with a 3-cylinder, 1.0L engine that delivered 31kW of power. This engine was larger and fairly more powerful than the small engines in the Mira and Centro. It is more powerful than what most people would expect, although this power does not come so easily. The gearbox has to be worked properly to take out as much power from the engine as possible. It offers a better country driving performance than its predecessors, but it still tends to struggle a bit sometimes. The car came with a manual 5-speed gearbox or a 3-speed automatic transmission. The former is better in most cases.
The Daihatsu Cuore was the final version of Daihatsu’s mini car. It was sold only for a few years until imports stopped and Daihatsu pulled out. In terms of comfort, the Daihatsu Cuore offers a surprisingly large amount of space up front, but the rear bench is cramped to say the least. Boot space is also limited in comparison to other small cars, but the rear seatback can be folded down to substantially increase the space available.
When driving, noise from the engine tends to diminish ride comfort. However, it is significantly better than the previously available Mira. Moreover, they are fairly comfortable to ride around the city in so long as the trips are kept short. In fact, the Daihatsu Cuore was never designed for long and winding trips along open roads. Their little engines lose steam pretty soon. They can get the car to 100km/h in short bursts when required, but that is about it.
Apart from Japan and locally, the Daihatsu Cuore was mainly available in Europe and New Zealand. Kit was limited to the basics, like front airbags, rear drum brakes, and a simple stereo system. Air-conditioning is available in some models as well. The cabin mostly uses cheap plastics, but for the price available, there is not much else to expect.
In fact, the low level of electronics and cheap plastics make the Daihatsu Cuore really easy to manage. Spare parts and materials are dirt cheap, and they can be used for a long time so long as the car stays within the safe zone of the city. Overall, the Daihatsu Cuore offers some of the lowest running costs among early-2000s Kei cars.
When compared to its competitors like the Daewoo Matiz, the Daihatsu Cuore lacks in ride quality and refinement. Other competitors like the Hyundai Amica cost just as much as the Cuore; however, the Daihatsu small car scores above similarly priced small cars in its reliability and all-round package.