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Daihatsu YRV 130 Turbo/ YRV


First drive: Daihatsu YRV 130 Turbo/ YRV Until the Mazda RX-8 arrives in October, the Daihatsu YRV Turbo 130 can lay claim to being the most powerful 1.3-litre car on sale in the UK.

Although the YRV has been on sale for a couple of years, and is probably best described as a spacious and versatile urban runabout (the Ford Fusion was not an entirely original concept), the company has seen fit to bring a wacky high performance version to the UK.

Priced at £10,995 on-the-road, it is a few hundred pounds more than the MINI One and while it might not have the same street cred, it offers much more power and equipment, and its bespoilered and scooped appearance grabs the attention like few other small cars.

This vehicle is for the user-chooser who likes to stand out from the crowd and for whom the fierce-looking MG ZR with its mesh grille and oversize wheels is just too dull.

With bold 'TURBO 130' decals on each side of our yellow test car, it is a constant reminder of the turbocharged engine's rounded up output. With 127bhp, the TRV Turbo 130 is the latest in a long tradition of rather manic small cars from Daihatsu.

A few years ago, an ancestor of the current Charade, the Cuore, was offered with a turbocharged 660cc three-cylinder engine and four-wheel drive called TR XX Avanzato.

Before that, when there was a supermini in the Daihatsu line-up called the Charade there was an over-the-top GTti version. Under the guardianship of its parent company, Toyota, Daihatsu has the freedom to develop all sorts of vehicles up to an engine capacity of 1.3-litres.

So using a basic engine essentially the same as the 1.3- litre variable valve timing unit found in the Toyota Yaris, Daihatsu has added a turbo and a four-speed automatic transmission with a steering wheel-mounted gearshift to add a sporty flavour.

Standard equipment includes air conditioning, alloy wheels, ABS, electric windows, remote central locking and a fixed panoramic glass roof. Practical aspects of the astonishingly roomy interior include split/folding rear seats with a fore and aft adjustment of up to 150mm.

The Turbo 130 will sprint to 60mph from rest in just over eight seconds, while maximum torque of 125lb-ft comes in at 3,200rpm.

Second gear will eventually allow the driver to break the national speed limit while the maximum speed of 112mph is achieved in third gear. In a straight line kicking down from about 50mph the YRV Turbo 130 has mind-boggling acceleration for a car of its type.

It has uprated suspension compared with non-turbo YRV models, apparently developed in the UK following extensive local testing. However, it cannot match the MINI for go-kart-like responses or the Citroen Saxo VTS for sheer fun – the steering just doesn't offer much feedback, and the turbo kicks in quite suddenly, giving the car a surprising or an alarming boost, depending on whether you are travelling in a straight line or tracking round a bend.

Being a tall, narrow and light car, one passenger wondered aloud if the driving experience was akin to being in a very fast wheelie bin.

However, this is note a derogatory comment but rather points to its eccentric appeal.

During my week with the YRV I found myself being charmed by its combination of practicality and lunacy.

Fact file

Make: Daihatsu
Model: YRV Turbo 130
Max power (bhp/rpm): 127/6,400
Max torque (lb-ft/rpm): 125/3,200
Max speed (mph): 112
0-62mph (secs): 8.1
Comb fuel consumption (mpg): 40.4
CO2 emissions (g/km): 165
Transmission: 4-sp auto
On sale: Now
Price (OTR): £10,995

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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