Daihatsu has unveiled its new Sirion supermini which is due to go on sale in the UK in March.

Developed with parent company Toyota – which sells its own version in Japan – the Sirion will be priced from £6,995 on-the-road for the 1.0 S, around £2,000 less than most mainstream competitors when taking into account the Sirion’s standard equipment which includes air-conditioning, driver, passenger and side airbags, radio/CD player, four electric windows, remote central-locking and electric power-steering.

The new Sirion also has a wealth of safety features including anti-lock brakes (ABS) with electronic brakeforce distribution (EBD).  Its front seatbelts provide pretensioners and force-limiters and the three rear seatbelts all boast three-point location plus ISOFIX for the outer belts which better locate child safety seats. There are also five height-adjustable head-restraints.

Aimed directly at the Ford Fiesta market, the new Sirion has external dimensions closely matching the Nissan Micra but with interior space from the next-class-up, challenging the entire supermini segment.  The wide-stance styling features strong wheelarch flares which give a ground-hugging look and mask the taller-than-average build which is part of the Sirion’s secret to its remarkable roominess.

The interior offers countless cubbies and storage areas plus tactile-grained plastics, large easy-to-use controls and thunk-shut doors for an overall quality feel.  Special ‘surprise-and-delight’ features include a pod-like oval speedometer – mounted on the steering column – which moves up and down with the standard height-adjustable steering wheel. The Sirion 1.3 SE has a circular pod-like rev-counter for added convenience and style.

All models have a 60/40 split-folding rear seat with an unusual feature. The seat cushions rise, hinge forward and then drop into the footwell.  This provides a soft carrying area for delicate items immediately behind the front seats. It also means when folded, the backrest creates a flat floor considerably deeper than would otherwise be possible.

Performance-wise, the Sirion 1.0 S has a top speed just under 100 mph with a 0-60 mph time of 13.5 seconds yet returns 64.2 mpg on the Extra Urban Cycle and has the lowest CO2 emissions in its class at 118 g/km.  By comparison, the 1.0 litre Vauxhall Corsa 5-door’s figures are 61.4 mpg and 129 g/km.

The Sirion 1.3 litre boasts a 106 mph top speed in manual form and 0-60 mph time of 10.9 seconds. Fuel economy is 58.9 mpg Extra Urban, which compares with 57.6 mpg Extra Urban for the Ford Fiesta 1.25 which produces 147 g/km versus the Sirion’s 137 g/km.

The new Sirion 1.3 litre engine also has the world’s first self-regenerating catalyst.  Apart from ensuring a longer working life – and therefore reduced maintenance bills – the system means the car will retain its low emissions over a much higher mileage than other cars.

Much of the chassis-tuning was conducted on European roads resulting in especially long-travel suspension matched to firm damping and stout front and rear anti-roll bars.  Combined with one of the widest tracks in its class, the new Daihatsu has an especially secure feel on the road with an absorbent ride yet strong straight-line stability.

Oh, and in case you were wondering, The Sirion takes its name from the broad river in the record-selling book The Lord of the Rings.