The Feroza was never going to win prizes for its styling, but it does have a cult following for being affordable – and managing to do as much against its bigger and better known off-road counterparts. It is not such a comfortable car to drive over long distances, especially if off road, but the car’s agility and handling make up for that. It is a good car both on and off the road, with excellent seating positions that give driver and passengers alike a good all-round view.
The Daihatsu Feroza was made in two generations. The first appeared in 1984 and was produced until 1992, while the second generation, marketed as the Feroza II, was produced from 1992 to 1998 before the car company ceased production of the line altogether. It has four-wheel or two-wheel drive. Full-time four-wheel drive is available by using the lockable inter-axle differential, and the vehicle’s other settings are easily selected with the selector located next to the gearstick.
As with other Japanese carmakers, there are various different names for what is effectively the same vehicle. Around the world it is known as the ’Rocky,’ ‘Rugger,’ the ‘Lovibond’ in Japan, and the ‘Sportrak’ in Europe. Now that it has been out of production for a while, parts are becoming difficult to find.
Its solid construction, however, means that it needs few repairs. It’s primarily for that solid construction that the Feroza is still available for purchase. The original interior was a bit modestly made, and in older models, it may prove to be a bit worn or run-down, but the solid engine makes up for any interior issues the Feroza may face. This car was succeeded by the impressive Daihatsu Terios.
The Feroza has Daihatsu’s 1600cc SOHC overhead-can fuel-injected 16-valve petrol engine, which delivered a less-than-stellar 70kW of power at 5600rpm and 128Nm of torque at 4800rpm. This engine linked to a 5-speed gearbox, although automatic transmission was also available. It may not be the fastest car out there, but the gear ratios along with the double wishbone suspension and torsion bar at the front lead to a pretty impressive performance off road.
The Daihatsu Feroza feels quite slow on the open road as the smaller engine used in the vehicle appears to be underpowered. You don’t have to push it hard to keep up its top speed, but it takes a fair amount of revving to get it up there. Even on older versions of the car, the fuel economy is still reasonable at around 8.3L/100km, even when crossing rough terrain.
There’s plenty of space inside a Feroza for 4 adults, though getting in and out of the three-door version can be an issue for larger people. The cabin is good for the size of vehicle, though the space to rest your feet is a bit too narrow for comfort. Compared to other makes, the equipment spec is quite light and the plastic interior is best described as non-descript; however, the interior is also designed to take some punishment from owners determined to go off road.
Cars like this are kept inexpensive because they don’t have a lot of kit but do have a high degree of engineering quality. However, there are a few options, and 2 trim levels associated with the Feroza. The DX was the standard version, while the EL had a few more options. The Feroza could be purchased with a soft-top or resin hardtop at the DX trim. The EL came with the resin hardtop, including wrap-over side windows. The Feroza II SXP trim was also introduced in the 1990s as the new top-end model.
Some Ferozas came with a ‘chrome pack’ that included chrome wheels, grille, metallic paint, and a number of other metallic details over the body of the vehicle. A good number of Ferozas will come with air-conditioning and power steering. Later models began to come with options for power windows, power locks, and power mirrors. The standard audio equipment in the Feroza is a radio with a cassette player.
The Feroza has aged well. Some models have a removable hard top which is appealing to youngsters and particularly nice since it doesn’t come with air-conditioning – not even as an option .It’s also inexpensive to run and maintain with many of the hard-core fan base carrying out most of the maintenance on the vehicles.
The Daihatsu Feroza is almost too niche for direct competitors. Potential competitors might include the Land Rover Defender, Jeep Wrangler, and Nissan Triton V6, though owners who take the Feroza off road swear this is the better vehicle. To compare, the Land Rover Defender made in the early 1990s offered a pretty massive 2.5L engine that offered 80kW of power and 264Nm of torque. However, the massive size makes it a rockier ride, and it is still much more expensive than Ferozas of the same years.