The Daihatsu Mira is an ideal city car. It’s slightly smaller than most small cars, which means it’s quite fun to drive around the city, and you’ll always be guaranteed that the car will slot into the smallest of parking spots.
When Daihatsu first launched the Mira, it made no secret of the fact that its target market was owners who were looking to trade in older, unreliable vehicles and younger buyers looking at the budget end of the new car market. The four-door Mira, with four seats, was the cheapest car to buy here at the time. As with most cars of this size, you get what you pay for, and some drivers may find the ride a little bit too bumpy due to the small body size. Handling around town is impressive even though steering is not power-assisted. You’ll find the car’s size is a bonus, and it has a very small turning circle.
The first generation of the Mira was produced in 1980. The L55 series was considered an extension of the Cuore, and it is technically the second generation of the Cuore line as well as the first of the Mira line. The L70 series would launch in 1985, with a 3-cylinder replacing the 2-cylinder, and the first of the Mira vans arriving during this generation. It was followed by the L200 series in 1990, the L500 series in 1994, and the L700 series in 1998, each of which was a retooling of the previous model.
It would receive its first major facelift in a while with the L250 series in 2002, a point that would mark the end of the Mira’s evolution. The most recent generation of the Mira, the L275 Series, has the gear stick in the centre of the dashboard – where it should have been from its inception since the car is so small inside, this is within easy reach. This generation was the sixth and final for the vehicle, which received a facelift and became the Charade later.
On the open road, the Mira’s power is left wanting but the small capacity engine has multi-valve technology and electronic fuel injection which helped boost its power, though not enough in torque terms to actually pull anything substantial. The engine comes with a five-speed gearbox, which is helpful when cruising as this reduces road noise and helps improve fuel economy.
It also has a relatively small engine which means it is fairly cheap to run. The original Mira was produced with a 550cc engine, and this was later upgraded to a 660cc motor for the four-door version. That small size means that the Daihatsu Mira only produced 24-47kW of power at 5500rpm. Torque in the Mira ranged from 69Nm to 76Nm, however, which is more than enough poke for a car of its size. Its size also lends itself to outstanding fuel economy of an impressive 6.1L/100km, which is helped by the 660kg it weighs.
The car comes in two-door or four-door versions, and at one time, there was a Mira van available which had an 850cc engine. The Mira takes 13 seconds to reach 0-100km/h, which obviously isn’t going to break any records, but in heavy city traffic, you won’t notice the lack of power under the bonnet. Though, to be fair, owners will tell of the Mira’s quick acceleration from a standing start.
The seventh-generation Mira is still a cheap runner with its everyday fuel consumption being around 21km/L. Find one with the stop/start system and the economy will increase to an impressive 27km/L.
Buyers of the Mira enjoyed a vehicle that is reliable and inexpensive to maintain with decent equipment levels. The car’s exterior is extremely well made, and the paint finish is particularly impressive, though the quality of some of the interior trim is lacking.
As a city car, there isn’t much space for luggage, though the back seats do fold down. There is enough space for the driver and passenger up front, however, adults may find the rear seat a squeeze, as there isn’t much in the way of leg space. Children will fit in comfortably.
The Mira comes in several different trim levels, including the L, the X, and the RS. It doesn’t come with too much kit, although a full set of airbags, power steering, and UV glass protection come standard. The upmarket X comes with power windows, keyless entry, and privacy glass as well in the newer models, along with a radio, CD player, and car alarm. Some options come with a rear spoiler.
The Mira isn’t for everybody, but it is a reliable enough car for the money and cheap to run. It is easy to handle and good for commutes.
The Suzuki Alto has similar dimensions and running costs, and it is also an inexpensive buy. Like the Daihatsu Mira, it is considered a kei car. It has a comparable engine to the Mira, but it manages to get between 31kW and 51kW of power as well as up to 90Nm of torque, which when combined with its small body, gives it a substantial amount of poke. A newer Suzuki Alto will be more expensive than an older Daihatsu Mira, but it is still within a reasonable price range for most consumers. The Daihatsu Mira does have a nice look with the 2006 model, and it can still be a good buy in comparison to the competition.