Have only owned this Sirion SE Automatic for 4 weeks, and initial impressions were that I'd made a terrible mistake. I'd driven 2 different demos (both automatics) at the dealer, and had been happy, but the gearbox on the car I bought whined loudly and idle was also noisy.
To cut a longer story short, I took it back and this is where I must take my hat off to Daihatsu and the dealer. It was decided to change the automatic gearbox, which was all done straightaway (over 3 days) while they lent me one of the demos I had previously tested. Brilliant service and the car is much better!
So now I'm reviewing what seems to be a normal Sirion 1.3SE Auto!
One could never call it the quietest car, but it's no worse than several others in this sector. The new gearbox still whines but you don't notice it much (I think they all do it), and it is smooth.
The engine gives adequate power - I was prepared for a drop in performance after my Ignis 1.5 auto, but it's not noticeable at all. The ride is quite nice for a small car (at this price), but it still crashes in and out of potholes, causing a front suspension thump/knock. Handles speed humps OK though. The steering is light and it's a very easy car to drive and park. Pity the steering wheel isn't true at straight-ahead position - the garage didn't quite manage to fix that - but it's closer than it was. I find it annoying but appreciate most probably wouldn't.
Economy is very good for an auto. Early figures indicate over 40mpg on a town & country commute of 25 miles a day. Haven't had it on a run yet but obviously it'll do better than that. It's lightness probably helps performance and economy - the brochures said it was 210kg lighter than the Splash. That's virtually 3 adults!
Interior-wise, it certainly is roomy, the boot is a good size and shape (considering the size of the car) and the seats are comfortable. Legroom is good, more so when you remove the huge lumps of polystyrene from under the front carpets. I've replaced the passenger side with thinner sound deadening material, cut to shape, and freed up a couple of inches of footroom. Why on earth is it there? It certainly has nothing to do with soundproofing, just disguises a beam in the floor, which can be done with alternative materials. Overall though, I can't see how they get so much room out of a car that's 4" shorter than the Splash and 6" shorter than the Ignis!
I agree with fellow-reviewer Geoff about the headrests moving when you don't want them to! Don't totally agree with him re build. The interior plastics scratch with a fingerail, the exterior paint's not much better. Many are similar, though, at this price. The keys needed a going-over with emery cloth - sharp edges caused the scratch on the plastic door trim which I managed on the day I bought it. Talk about offensive weapons!
The aircon seems adequate - a good compromise between draining too much power from the engine and reasonable cooling ability. But something I didn't notice on the test drives - the heater is incapable of any 'warm to the feet, cold to the face' facility. As every Japanese car I've owned has had this bi-level ability, I didn't even look for it. This to me is a huge snag. Neither am I impressed with the heater output. These days a volcanic heater is a given - not so with the Sirion. The output is moderate and - for the driver - warms your right leg but not your left! Only after about 10 miles does the whole footwell become warm enough not to notice, and by then the cabin is stuffy and all you can do is open a window. I know I should have tested the heating/ventilation before buying, but I didn't. My fault, but I'm not happy with this design.
There are certainly plenty of toys (which you can read about on the specs) and one or two nice touches. Eg: the interior lights all go off after you've left the doors open for 10 minutes - saves the battery! The dash is neat and everything works well. Much nicer since they put the rev-counter into the speedo pod on this face-lifted model. The stereo is far better than the Ignis - not that that's saying much!
Externally, I like the height of the tailgate. Unlike the Suzuki Splash (a serious contender for my money) which is a taller car but has a lower tailgate, you can't bang your head unless you're very tall. If you want a small van - as I often do - you've got it. The rear seat fold is easy and gives you a virtually flat loadbay. Generally, the car's an easy shape to clean, and the doors close nicely. Strange as it seems quite tinny otherwise.
To conclude, I would have bought the Splash had the boot been bigger, the tailgate lifted higher, the dash not had that distracting rev counter in a pod, and the A-pillars not affected vision at junctions so much. One or two of these points would not be a deal-breaker, but the combination was. There was also an internet review that said the auto gearbox was inclined to whine, and the dealer didn't have one to try. It was otherwise a nice drive, but the demo Sirion pipped it in the these areas. If they facelift the Splash in a couple of years, stretching it like they did the Ignis, I may well return to Suzuki...
I know everyone raves about the Sirion, and I'm sorry to disagree, but there are some less-attractive aspects of the car which probably need to be mentioned. Some will probably just think I'm being picky, but it's a review - that's what the site's for!