When you switch on the new Daihatsu Charade's ignition, a little message "Hello Happy" pops up on the dashboard. Once you get past that stage, however, there is nothing remotely silly about this car.
You never know quite what to expect from a new Daihatsu because this is not a company that follows the herd. Famous in its native Japan for producing mildly eccentric vehicles aimed mainly at younger drivers, Daihatsu has built some minor gems and quite a few oddities. The latest Charade, however, is a car to take seriously.
Powered by a highly efficient three-cylinder engine, the Charade is also surprisingly quick its claimed top speed of 99 mph and 0-60mph acceleration in 12 sec set new class benchmarks.