Fleet News

Daihatsu Cuore

Review

##daicuor.jpg --Right##DAIHATSU has replaced the Cuore's 850cc engine with a three-cylinder, twin-cam, 12-valve 1.0-litre unit with an output of 54bhp - one of the best figures in its class - and a marginally bigger exterior (an extra 15mm in width for the three-door and 25mm for the five-door). Despite the expansion in body and engine size, perhaps the Cuore's proudest boast - particularly with potential changes to the vehicle taxation system - is its retention of the title as Britain's most fuel-efficient petrol-engined car with a combined mpg of 53.3 (manual).

Despite the changes, and reflecting the levels of competition, the Cuore is available at a lower on-the-road price than the outgoing model. The three-door Cuore is £6,495 (£6,595 with power steering) and the five-door Cuore+ £7,395 (£7,295 without power steering). But as the saying goes, you get what you pay for, and with the Daihatsu that's not a lot on the base three-door - a radio isn't even included.

It's hard to see where the Cuore will fit within fleet outside the rental industry and Daihatsu admits this. With projected sales of 2,000 for the end of next year, about 20% will be to fleet, the majority dedicated to rental, with most of the remainder going to Motability. Probably the best addition to the small car's armoury is the automatic transmission option, which has never been available on the Cuore and for £500 provides hassle-free city centre motoring. And this is really all the Cuore is up to - sub-50mph darting in and out of traffic in towns and cities - in this arena it does its job well.

With go-kart-like handling and reduced body roll thanks to suspension refinement, the Cuore is a fun car at lower speeds and the three-speed automatic is smooth and quick to respond. Compare this with the manual and my large frame suddenly felt cramped as I attempted to steer and change gear with the lever banging against my knee, making the switch from fourth to fifth tricky because of a lack of room between the gearstick and steering wheel.

It's a strange illusion but the automatic appears a bigger and more refined car - the loose manual gearbox, sloppy clutch and general lack of room seemed to be a world apart from the effort-free auto.

Storage space is also an issue. The glovebox is small, restricted by the passenger airbag, and the side pockets in each door can only be accessed by opening the door.

It's not all good news with the automatic either, falling down when the 50mph barrier is passed. It soon becomes apparent that the gearbox has only three speeds and at 70mph the engine is spinning at 5,000rpm and whining at a deafening level. It really is a case of weighing up the pros and cons when comparing the two. Unless a company runs a fleet where its drivers are all under 5ft 4in (in which case the manual should be fine), the automatic is the only sensible option.

CO2 emissions and fuel consumption data correct at time of writing. The latest figures are available in the Fleet News fuel cost calculator and the company car tax calculator.

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